Saturday, January 14, 2023

IN THE FOLDS OF THE FLESH (1971) (Mondo Macabro Blu-ray Review)


Label: Mondo Macabro
Region Code: Region-Free
Duration: 92 Minutes 
Rating:  Unrated 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: Italian and English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Dual-Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Sergio Bergonzelli
Cast: Eleonora Rossi Drago, Pier Angeli, Fernando Sancho, Alfredo Mayo, Emilio GutiĆ©rrez Caba, Maria Rosa Sclauzero 

The Sergio Bergonzelli (Blood Delirium) directed In the Folds of the Flesh (1970) is one of the more bug-nuts Italian giallo films you will ever see, in it we get not just the usual early 70's style galore but multiple dismembered heads, neck snappingly wild character turns, sibling incest, flashbacks to a Nazi death camp and more Etruscan skeletons than could possibly makes sense. Set in a castle by the sea the film opens with a severed head rolling across the floor, it's a film that wastes no time in getting to the good stuff, and it only getting weirder from there. While this is happening the police are in pursuit of an escaped criminal on motorbike named Pascal (Fernando Sancho, The Big Gundown). After travelling through a rural area he ends up on the coastal castle grounds where he witnesses a woman burying the headless corpse of her husband in a shallow grave before sending a driverless boat out to sea. Pascal is captured soon after but keeps what he saw at the to himself, figuring he can use it to his advantage at a later date. 

Thirteen years later after serving his sentence Pascal returns to the castle, intent on blackmailing the woman, but it turns out the repulsive criminal may have bit off more than he could chew with this demented family unit. At the castle we have Lucille (Eleonora Rossi, The Secret of Dorian Gray, Camille 2000), her son Andre (Alfredo Mayo, My Dear Killer) and daughter Falesse (Pier Angeli, Octaman). The trio live peculiar and weirdly artistic lives at the castle where they operate a bed and breakfast. They keep pet vultures, and occasionally dig up Etruscan skeletons from the burial ground beneath the castle, and dissolving their victims in a vat of acid. 

It's established well before the return of Pascal that the whole family is demented murders, with the pretty Falesse taking on several lovers only to cut off their heads in short order. The film also establishes a disturbingly close relationship between the siblings, and lets you know that this is a family not only OK with murder but also one willing to do whatever it takes to keep their family secrets are buried. While this one steers away from the usual black-gloved killer tropes of typical gialli we do get is a ludicrous amount of reality warping twist and turns that will leave your mind reeling to keep up with the who really killed who and why. There's also the added elements of an undercover 
detective lurking around, a connection to an insane asylum, cyanide gas baths, plus kaleidoscopic camera tricks and several black and white flashbacks to a Nazi death camp. It's quite a vibrant and stylish entry in the sub-genre with cool arty flourishes and flamboyant early 70's fashions that are quite eye-catching, including a cool swirling-paint opening title sequence that recalls the Corman produced Poe films. 

The whole shebang is a lurid psycho-sexual and psychedelic
slice of Eurocult filled with madness, mayhem and plenty of murder, creating a feverish and reality warping murder tale that would sit well alongside other heightened gialli like Hotel Fear, Nine Guests for a Murder and All the Colors of the Dark. There's really no other giallo quite like In The Folds of The Flesh though, it stands apart as one of the more insane and twisty gialli of the era, and it's ridiculously entertaining. 

Audio/Video: In the Folds of The Flesh arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro in 1080p HD widescreen, sourced from a new 2k transfer from original 35mm camera negative. We get the option to view the English or Italian version of the film, both look great, aside from a stock footage insert of a bolt of lightning that pops-up several times throughout the film. The differences aside from language options include title card and credit sequences in either language, but otherwise these appeared identical to me. The stylish giallo looks quite splendid on Blu-ray, the source features nicely resolved grain with exciting fine detail in the close-ups of the clothing textures. The film is quite colorful and the HD presentation offers an assortment of vibrant visuals throughout that looks awesome. 

Audio comes by way of both Italian and English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Dual-Mono with optional English subtitles. The track is clean and free of obvious issues, dialogue sounds great, and the groovy score from Jesus Villa Rojo is pretty cool. Both tracks are solid but I give the edge to the English tracks which is ever so slightly more robust. 

Extras include a terrific Audio Commentary with film historian/author from Samm Deighan who astutely discusses the more absurd elements of the film, the Gothic trappings, elements on Nazisploitation, the myriad twist and turns it takes and getting into other films of this caliber, plus the background of the cast and crew. We also get an archival 22-min In The Folds Of Sergio Bergonzelli featurette focusing on director Sergio Bergonzelli, featuring  interviews with Corrado Colombo and Attilio Perillo, in addition to still from his films. Also included are both the  English Trailer and the Italian Trailer, us a recently updated 13-min Mondo Macabro Preview reel which is always a treat. The single-disc release arrives in a standard keepcase with a single-sided sleeve of artwork. 

Special Features:
- Brand new 2K transfer from negative, digitally restored.
- Documentary featurette on director Sergio Bergonzelli (22 min) 
- Audio Commentary from Samm Deighan.
- English Trailer (3 min)
- Italian Trailer (3 min) 
- Mondo Macabro Previews (13 min) 

Screenshots from the Mondo Macabro Blu-ray: