Double Face - Double Face(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2019]Following on from early Arrow Video releases this year, Double Face is another lesser-known, largely bloodless & more moody Giallo film reissued by the company. The Blu Ray features a new commentary track from genre expert Tim Lucas, some neat extras, and a new well-defined print.
Double Face( aka A doppia faccia, Puzzle of Horrors, Liz & Helen) was an Italian/German production that appeared in 1969 - the film was sold as a Giallo in Italy, and in Germany as a krimi- so it’s very much a film between two fairy similar genres. It was directed by Egyptian born Italian director Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampton) - a fairly prolific & genre-jumping filmmaker, who directed some of the early Italian horror films like 1957’s Lust of The Vampire and 1962’s The Horrible Mr Hitchcock- as well latter on spy films, melodramas, a western, and Gallio’s- such this, 1971’s The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (which got reissued on Arrow early this year) and 1972’s Tragic Ceremony.
The film's plot revolves around well-to-do London businessman John Alexander(Klaus Kinski), whose heiress wife is killed in a car crash, and the insuring police investigation that seems to suggest she was murdered. The film unfolds at a slow, and often dialogue-heavy pace- though it’s often decidedly moody & at times creepy, as the action shifts from a shadowy & grand gothic mansion, London’s Nighttime streets that move from eerier half-lit alleyways, trippy & disorientating clubs, and starkly neon lined streets. The whole thing is well-scoped with some great footage of London in the mid-sixties, and it’s scored by in an often grand & dramatic Piano focused by Nora Orlandi(The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh & The Sweet Body of Deborah). As you expect with Giallo we are present with a series of suspects- we have of course the shifty, but seeming caring Husband John. His wife Lesbian lover Liz, Christine-mysterious women who have seemingly done an arty skin flick with his wife, and a few others
Kinski plays his role surprisingly low-key but well, and if anything I’d compared it to his performances on Franco’s Jack The Ripper- so no Herzog like Over-topness here. The rest of the cast is good enough, though nothing too memorable. As mentioned in my introduction the film is pretty much completely bloodless, though there is a fair bit of female flesh on display- and seemingly there was a French version released in the mid-’70s with Hardcore inserts- though this version just skims light soft-core. On the whole as late 1960’s thrillers/ Giallo/ krimi go Double Face is entertaining enough- with some stylish & moody shot choices, and a twisting plot that leads to a fairly surprising end turn- I just wish it had been a little more dramatic, with a few pulse-racing moments- because at times it shifts from been effectively & moody in it's pace, to downright slow & plodding.
For the most part, the new print looks very good- really highlighting the more atmospheric night time & eerier settings. Though where it does fall down, and highlights the films age/ budget on is the very cheap looking effects sequence- like the opening car crash that’s clearly a model, or the cringe-inducing superimposed footage of John & wife supposable sledging down snowy slopes. The sound is good & crisp- with Orlandi dramatic & showy score coming across very powerful. We’re presented with two versions of the film, English & Italian.
Moving onto the extras we have a new commentary track from genre expert/ film historian Tim Lucas- the track is very informative, fact-filled & far-reaching- as he discusses everything from the book the film was based on, whether the film is a Giallo or krimi, the films budget, the cast & crew- with often lengthy bios, impactful scenes, and more- instead of been a linear following action on screen, the track is more of an audio essay- so if you wish you could easily play this as a stand-alone and find it very worthy as such. Next we The Many Faces of Nora Orlandi- this is forty-three minute featurette from DJ & soundtrack collector Lovely Jon, who's now done a few featurettes for Arrow’s Giallo releases, and once again he does a great job here- as it title suggests it covers the whole of Ms. Orlandi career, going from her playing violin, onto her set up her respected choir, before of course going onto discussing her film work, with the whole thing finishing with a close look at the Soundtrack for Double Face. Next, we get even more Orlandi focused material with a new half-an-hour interview with Ms Orlandi from this year. We get The Terrifying Dr. Freda- this is a nineteen-minute audio essay from author and critic Amy Simmon- this finds her starting off discussing the director's early horror films, before going onto focus on his three Giallo films. We get English & Italian trailers, and an extensive image gallery featuring poster artwork, German press book, lobby cards, and the complete Italian cineromanzo adaptation of the film. So once again Arrow have pushed out the stops for a great selection of lengthy & definitive extras.
With this release of Double Face Arrow Video has once again shining a light on one of the lesser-known Giallo films- giving the film a great new print, and a bumper selection of worthy extras.Roger Batty