14 October, 2007

Leon Klimovsky & Paul Naschy on Blu-ray!

A Leon Klimovsky film on Blu-ray?! A Paul Naschy film on Blu-ray!? When I first heard of this HD format I never dared imagine this longtime favorite but relatively obscure Spanish horror director would end up with one of his films getting this treatment. And I never really thought that any of the fascinating directorial efforts of Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy would ever appear on HD or Blu-ray. Current Mainstream Hollywood films? Yes. Family Entertainment? Yes. Leon Klimovsky and Paul Naschy? NO! But it looks like it's going to happen in January 2008.
http://www.fangoria.com/news_article.php?id=5172 ... Could the above image, taken from the recent BCI/DEIMOS DVD presentation of VENGEANCE... look any better on Blu-ray? And how about the Paul Naschy self-directed NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF? This 1980 entry in Naschy's long running werewolf cycle never did much for me until I saw it on BCI's uncut, HD-quality presentation in OAR and which allowed for the possiblity of watching it with its Spanish language track. Seeing it this way caused me to upgrade the film to one of Naschy's top directorial efforts. Watching VENGEANCE again last night in the wake of this welcome news had me wondering just how much more detail, color and atmosphere can be revealed by a Blu-ray presentation. I did notice some possible motion blurring for the first time, but that can no doubt be totally eliminated. The question for this blog: Can the films of Jess Franco be far behind?

Hopefully these will do well enough so that DEIMOS can see the way to release even more Klimovsky/Naschy/Spanish horror on this format. I've encountered references to an No Adult fare Blu-ray policy, but these films hardly qualify as that. In the case of Jess Franco a myriad of problems loom. We must remember that JF had a sort of student-menter relationship with Klimovsky, who came to Spain in 1955 from Argentina where he worked as a dentist, film club organizer, critic, radio commentator (CINEMA DIARY) and finally, film director (EL JUGADOR-1947). Settling in Spain he worked continuously for three decades in many popular genres: crime, musicals, comedies, westerns, and finally horror films. His first, 1970's WEREWOLF SHADOW is regarded as the film which ignited the 1970s Spanish horror boom and its success established Paul Naschy as a bankable horror star.
Jess Franco worked as Klimovsky's scriptwriter/assistant on such projects as MEIDO (1955) and AMA ROSA (1960). Franco and Klimovsky hit it off and the eager young man absorbed much valuable experience in writing and directing under the guidance of the older journeyman. But Klimovsky never got into hardcore erotica and his sexy 1970's horror films now seem quite tame beside such JF titles as PLAISIR A TROIS, FEMALE VAMPIRE and LORNA, THE EXORCIST. Franco quickly became a director of Adult Films in the early 1970s and has never looked back. That makes some of his best films a big IF for Blu-ray, if they do indeed strictly enforce a no Adult Material policy. Would the S&M soaked SUCCUBUS be considered Adult? How about VAMPYROS LESBOS? The title alone may be problematic. But it's still too early to tell. One thing is for sure, times are changing and new formats will be hungry for product.

I called a friend in LA after watching VENGEANCE and stayed up late discussing the possibilities of Eurotrash/genre titles on Blu-ray and HD. We talked about the good old days in the 1980s and early 1990s when these things were only available as fullscreen, dubbed, and often censored old VHS prerecords, if you could find them. He reminded me of some industry insider's wisdom he had read that predicted whatever medium [Blu-ray or HD] that the Adult Film Industry adopts as a standard will be the one to prevail and will be followed by the Majors as it seems that the Adult Industry makes and sells more movies on all formats than all the Hollywood mainstreamers put together.
In the meantime, guarded congratulations to the late Leon Klimovsky and the very much alive Paul Naschy...

Thanks to Eric Cotenas.
(C) Robert Monell, 2007

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