Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blu-ray Review: The Image (1975)

THE IMAGE (1975)
Release Date: June 14, 2011

REGION CODE: ABC
RATING: Unrated
DURATION: 91 mins
VIDEO: 1080p 16:9 1.85:1 Widescreen
AUDIO: DTS-HD MA English 5.1 Surround, English 2.0 Mono
DIRECTOR: Radley Metzger
CAST: Carl Parker, Marilyn Roberts, Mary Mendum


SYNOPSIS: 'The Image' (1975) is a fascinating study of the sadomasochistic relationship between a man, a young girl, and an older woman. Jean (Carl Parker, 'Score'), meets his old friend Claire (Marilyn Roberts) at a party and is introduced to the young, seductive Anne (Mary Mendum). Jean discovers the two women have a master/slave relationship and gets seduced into their perverse sexual games. 


THE FILM: Synapse's entry into the blu-ray market this past year has been marked by some fantastic titles beginning with VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972), EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008) and the early 80's slasher THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1982). The latest film to get Synapse's deluxe treatment is Radley Metzger's THE IMAGE (1975) based on the novel L'IMAGE. The film is alternately known by the more sensational but no less appropriate titles THE PUNISHMENT OF ANNE and THE MISTRESS AND THE SLAVE. It's been a tremendous year for Metzger junkies with Cult Epics releases of SCORE (1974), THE LICKERISH QUARTET (1970) and an extended edition of CAMILLE 2000 (1969) on Blu and now Synapse have thrown their hat in the ring with an uncut presentation of THE IMAGE. 

The events of THE IMAGE  are told in retrospect with narration by a writer named Jean who is portrayed by actor Carl Parker who also portrayed the randy-handyman Mike in Metzger's THE SCORE. While attending a snooty social gathering he encounters a middle-aged acquaintance Claire (Marilyn Roberts). She's a stern woman who's accompanied by the younger and much more striking Anne (Mary Mendum). It turns out the young beauty is  Claire's submissive sexual plaything. Noticing Jean's interest she offers to loan her plaything to him though he refuses at first. Try though as he might he cannot shake the overpowering attraction to the woman and finds himself drawn into an erotic sadomasochistic triangle of both pleasure and pain.

THE IMAGE at it's essence is a string of erotic  scenarios by which the submissive Anne is put through the wringer of humiliation and the pleasures of pain at the hands of her mistress and Jean. It's not particularly deep in regards to it's plotting but we're not watching this for it's Shakespearean complexity, let's be honest. What we wanna see are the lurid pleasures of the flesh in all their hardcore glory and they are ever present in a way that only Metzger can deliver. While humiliation and pain aren't my particular kink the film is hypnotic in its dark exploration of sadomasochism, the power of control and the pleasures of being dominated. The sexual tension is wonderfully mesmerizing and while I found some of the imagery difficult to watch I was unable to look away and it had everything to do with Metzger's artful eye and clever editing. Whether through arousal or repulsion there was a lot of squirming in my seat throughout the film but it's undeniably titillating despite it's dark nature.

BLU-RAY: THE IMAGE get a gorgeous 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer presented in pants tightening 1080p struck from the original 35mm negative. Audio options include both DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono and a newly remixed 5.1 surround mix. The original mono sound quite good and while the 5.1 does give some added depth to the proceedings it's not overwhelming. Dialogue, score and effects are well balanced with no distortion. We get English language subtitles and isolated music and effects track to further enjoy the  groovy 70's soundtrack. By Synapse standards it's a pretty bare bones affair but to have the film uncut and so finely restored is pretty great in itself. The film is also available on DVD from Synapse with the same special features.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- All New (1.85:1) High Definition Transfer
- Newly Remixed 5.1 Surround Soundtrack
- Original 2.0 Mono Soundtrack
- Isolated Music and Effects Track
- Director Filmography
- Liner Notes
- Booklet with liner notes from Nathaniel Thompson of www.mondo-digital.com

VERDICT: Metzger's artful erotica manages to elevate smuttiness to a level that suits the grindhouse and art house with an eye for cinematography, style and explicit sexual perversion. It was an uncomfortable watch for me but if you like you're kink with a dark twist grab yourself Synapse's blu-ray of THE IMAGE (1975) in all it's pants-tightening glory. 3.5 outta 5



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