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A Scorpion Release - Legendary international star Liv Ullmann (Cries and Whispers, Persona) stars as Leonor, in this chilling and poetic 1970s arthouse horror film about a medieval noblewoman whose untimely death haunts her husband Richard (Michel Piccoli, Belle de Jour, Contempt). After years of mourning and with Leonor’s body walled up in a tomb, Richard marries the much younger Catherine (Ornella Muti, Flash Gordon, Oscar, Oasis of Fear), but he still can’t find true happiness. Desperate the relive his life with Leonor, he makes a pact with the devil that indeed brings back his late wife, but she’s cold to the touch and now possesses an unearthly hunger that could destroy everyone around him. From director Juan Luis Buñuel (Expulsion of the Devil, The Lady with Red Boots), son of the legendary filmmaker, Luis Buñuel, and writers Jean-Claude Carrière (The Tin Drum, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) and Bernardo Zapponi (Deep Red, Spirits of the Dead) comes a beautifully acted tale of an uncanny and tragic love, featuring a haunting score by Oscar® winner Ennio Morricone (The Thing, Spasmo) and stunning cinematography by Luciano Tovoli (Suspiria, The Passenger). Available for the first time in HD.
-Brand New 2018 HD Master of the 85-Minute U.S. Cut
-Brand New 2017 HD Masrer of the 99-Minute International Cut
-In English and Spanish (with optional properly translated English subtitles)
-Audio Commentary by Film Historian Troy Howarth
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Please note that details of the plot are discussed in the following paragraphs.
In the 14th century, Richard, a middle-aged Spanish noble loses Leonor,
his young, beloved wife, in a horse-riding accident.
Stricken by uncontrolled grief, he has her interred immediately in the family crypt, without the proper Christian rites.
Without waiting for the proper mourning period, he immediately marries Catherine, a nubile girl of ravishing beauty.
Ten years later, Catherine has given him two sons, who fill him with immense paternal pride and joy.
Richard, however, is restless and still pines for Leonor. He occasionally catches fleeting glimpses of her shadow.
Then Richard meets an strange, itinerant hermit, who provides him with the sorcerous means to resurrect Leonor.
When he succeeds, Richard murders Catherine, so that the resurrected Leonor can again be his consort.
He thus sets into motion a chain of events that will claim dozens of innocent lives,
and precipitate the destruction of his domain, of his sons and himself.
All these events take place while the Great Plague comes marching, devastating the land and its people.
There is blind panic, famine, burning of suspected witches, processions of penitents.
With the exception of the burning of a young girl, suspected for witchcraft, there is little overt horror in the film.
Undead Leonor chases her young victims in broad daylight.
There are no horned devils, fangs or torrents of blood.
There is just forlorn longing for the life that has been, and unbridled sexual passion-
as symbolized by the red raiments of Leonor and Richard.
The film is enchantingly shot in the olive groves of Castile, Spain, in the stony scrublands
of the Pyrenees, in real castles and ancient ruins.
Some complain the pacing is slack and meandering, and that is an understandable reaction if you're not in the mood. It's even more so in the International cut, which is about twelve minutes longer than the U.S. version. Still, I would recommend it over the shorter cut.
Scorpion's blu-ray looks excellent, but there is a problem. The audio choices are Spanish and English on the International version and normally the Spanish might be preferable, but it's slightly out of sync. The English dub is okay, but the performances are perfunctory and blunt the overall effectiveness of the film.
Still well worth checking out if you're up for a slow build supernatural tale.