Shock - Shock( Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2022]
Appearing in the late 1970s Shock, was the final film from respected and influential Italian horror director Mario Bava. It’s a woozy at times psycho-psychedelic thriller/ horror film, which charts a couple moving back into a house from one of their pasts, which may or may not be haunted by the spirit of one of the couples’ dead lovers. It’s a very 70’s euro horror film, which slips between camp creep-ness & telekinesis silliness, dread-filled surrealism & dreamy-ness, and moments of slashing ‘n’ spurting gore. Here from Arrow Video, both in the Uk & US, is a new blu ray release of the picture taking in a new 2k scan of the film- for both English & Italian language version, a commentary track from Bava expert Tim Lucas, and a good selection of other extras.
Shock (aka Beyond the Door II, Suspense) appeared in the year 1977, three years before Mario Bava sadly passed at the too-young age of sixty-five. And really if you have any knowledge of euro horror/ Giallo you’ll be familiar with Bava- in total, he helmed thirty-one films, with important titles like early euro gothic horror classic Black Sunday (1960), genre-defining giallo Black and Black Lace (1964), and A Bay Of Blood (1971) seen as one of the key influences of the American slasher genre. Shock may not be as impactful and influential as some of Bava filmography- but it’s a well-made film, that nicely builds in both unease and mystery.
The film kicks off with Dora (Daria Nicolodi), her airline pilot second husband Burno Baldini (John Steiner), and Marco (David Colin Jr) Dora’s eight-year-old son from her first marriage, all moving back into the old house she used to live with her ex junky husband, who apparently killed himself in the house. At first, the move back into the dusty house seems tiring but fine, but as time goes on young Marco seems to be acting strangely- as if mental unwell, possessed, or channelling the spirit of his father.
The film is largely set in the house, and this Bava edges with a feeling of creepy unease- with quite a few effective daytime/ well-lit moments of wonky creepiness. The small cast is good- Nicolodi plays well the is she/ isn’t she going mad Dora, Steiner is well placed as the seemingly caring, though at times slightly shifty new husband, and Colin Jr as the wide-eyed and tight curl headed youth is largely good, staying away from annoying horror film kid tropes. We get a small supporting role from Ivan Rassimov playing child psychologist Dr Aldo Spidini- Rassimov will of course be well known to Italian genre film fans, and he does a good enough job
The film slowly builds in both atmospheric unease and horror-filled trip-ness, all edged by moments of telekinesis- which switches between silly campness and subtle creepiness, as we see swings, box cutters, weird large China hand, and furniture moving on their own. With a great soundtrack by I Libra, which I believe features members of Goblin- the score mores nicely between creepy and moody bass guitar-led atmospheric, darting and dramatic guitar ‘n’ synth workouts, tuneful/ bright acoustic/ electric strum fest, and moments of woozy synth scaping. I first saw Shock say fifteen or so years back as part of a budget DVD release under the name of Beyond the Door II , and watching it again with this great new release it still retains its feeling of woozy horror and icky unease.
Moving onto this new Blu Ray- we get a wonderful new 2k scan of the film, really enhancing the subtly creepy house setting, surreal/ trippy moments, and the blood reds. There’s a new commentary track from genre expert & writer Tim Lucas, who wrote Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark. And this is a great professional track- packed to the gills with facts, observations, and rewarding criticism. He starts off commenting on the film's soundtrack, relating that it featured the drummer from Gobin, pointing out this is one of the first connections/influences of Dario Argento. Moving on he discusses young actor David Colin Jr and his bio mentioning that he appeared in Beyond The Door, hence why in some territories it got re-titled Beyond The Door 2- though the films have no connections, aside from the young actor. Moving on he talks about the filming locations/ sets, and apparently, it was filmed in just five weeks. He gives in-depth bios for each of the lead adult actors, as well as giving relevant quotes from interviews he did with both actors. He talks through Brava’s filmography, commenting on on-screen action & clever use of the camera. He quotes from an interview he did with Colin Jr, regarding the painful contact he had to wear in one scene, and much, much more- making for an easy play again track.
Moving on we get a wonderful bumper crop of new extras- A Ghost in the House- a video interview with co-director and co-writer Lamberto Bava( 30 mins), Via Dell’Orologio 33- a video interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti(33 mins), The Devil Pulls the Strings, a video essay by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas(20 mins), The Most Atrocious Tortur(e), an interview with critic Alberto Farina( 4.12 mins). And lastly, but hardly least Shock! Horror! – The Stylistic Diversity of Mario Bava, a video appreciation by author and critic Stephen Thrower- this runs fifty minutes, and as always you get a wonderful in-depth and interesting feature from Mr Thrower. He starts off by discussing that Shock was the first Bava film he saw, so as a result, he didn't judge it on the directors back catalogue as many did. Moving on he discusses the two lose periods of Bava’s filmography- the often gothic-tinged past, and the then present, and how/ why this shift occurred. Moving on he talks about the various shocks in the film, and how they build up to unbalance the viewer. He talks about the film's soundtrack- commenting on the different moods created, discusses its release in Italy and beyond, and the wonderful performance by Ms Nicolodi. So, a really great watch.
Otherwise, we get the original Italian trailer, radio spots, and image gallery. The finished release comes topped off with a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Christopher Shy, and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Troy Howarth. So, a really nice selection of extras.
I’ve always seen Shock as one of my favourite films of Mario Bava’s filmography. So it's really wonderful to see it getting the full and classy Arrow Video treatment, with an excellent new 2k scan, and a marvellous selection of new extras too. A great start to the labels release schedule for 2022- and I can’t wait to see what else they have to offer this year!.Roger Batty