For a while I had been reading some mixed bag comments about a new DVD company on the scene called Eurovista, with in particular some other industry types (mainly at the Mobius Home Video Forum) making comments about Eurovista's transfers for their releases. So, I felt it was time to take a look at what exactly the fuss was about with Eurovista's debut on the DVD scene with Armando Crispino's rarely seen vintage shocker 'The Dead are Alive'.
The story basically concerns boisterous ex-alcoholic archaeologist Jason (played by Alex Cord) and his team, who have uncovered an ancient Estrucan burial ground that brings with it a series of mysterious violent deaths. Our hero Jason quickly becomes the police's main suspect (due to his lack of alibi) but is it him or is it the disrupted undead rising from their tombs to seek revenge...
Violence, mystery and intrigue Italian style...it's all here in this underrated vintage thriller that should be a very welcome release to fans of retro Italian cinema. Director Crispino (who is mostly known these days for his work on 'Autopsy') does an excellent job in this great slice of pseudo giallo thriller. The film bizarrely opens with the impression that what you are about to watch is a strange hybrid of the 'Blind Dead' series and 'House by the Cemetary' but quickly drifts firmly into the more traditional thriller style with some excellent murder scenes and build up of suspense leading to a great edge of the seat finale that I enjoyed no end. Sure, the films not infallible purely to the dated feel that it does at time have, with some unintentionally amusing moments of convoluted drama (not dissimilar to Mario Bava's work at times) and cringeworthy dialogue that had me laugh out loud. But Cord's over the top performance as the aggressive hero and Crispino's excellent direction make this worth the (low) entry price alone! Also noteworthy is the great score provided by fan fave Riz Ortolani that is regrettably not done justice by the mono track of this presentation and is gagging for an audio tweak (that hopefully Eurovista will in time be able to consider when they are rightfully more established in the DVD scene).
The film is presented in (what looks like just slightly over matted) widescreen and at the start of the film you really do start to sweat when the print (well, the video master) shows some worrying wear but in general things are pretty good throughout with only the odd hair in the corner of the image (from the original print) making it still a very enjoyable viewing experience. And let's be honest here, Eurovista should be commended for putting this title out in the first place, the title anyway is strictly for fans of this particular genre and I know I'm happily forgiving just to get the opportunity to check this rarity out (and I don't see any of the other DVD companies committing themselves to releasing good old titles like this!) My only real complaint about the disc in fact is the pressing itself, as in the very last frame of the film itself (before the closing titles) the disc resets to the main menu, which while not being the end of the world it's still a bit of a pain - though I'm sure Eurovista will be doubly vigilant with future pressing due to this unfortunate mishap.
The Region 0 disc also contains some very informative (and crammed) bio pages and a lovely still gallery, showing Eurovista truly are fans of the scene. But best of all, the package also includes a gorgeous reproduction Press Pack booklet with lots of fun publicity material from the films theatrical release. This is a commendable move from Eurovista and beats the old 'card' chapter one sheet that others stick inside their releases - take note the rest of you!
'The Dead are Alive' is a great film that (for me) surpassed Crispino's 'Autopsy' by some way, and although not faultless this debut package from Eurovista is a very worthy addition to the collection of any fan of vintage Italian thriller scene. Check it out!
Review by Alan Simpson
The Eurovista line can be ordered direct from Luminous Film & Video Wurks by clicking here.
|Directed by Armando Crispino|
|Released by Eurovista|
|Region '0' NTSC - Not Rated|
|Ratio - 2.35:1 Widescreen|
|Audio - 2.0 Mono|
|Running time : approx 103 mins|
|Bios, Trailer and Press Book|