FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Sep 14, 2010

This is not a review.

Now, y'all know I love my movie multi-packs. In fact, "multi-pack movies" is one of the categories in Operation: 101010. Quite frankly I'm not sure I hope to fulfill all the categories in the remaining time of the year, but I'm still trying. As such, I figured I'd add another review to the list today by watching A Bell from Hell (La campana del infierno, 1973). "Ooh, Euro-horror," thought I. "I like that. And the synopsis on the cardboard sleeve! I do so love movies where people try to drive other people insane in order to procure their's such a deliciously Scooby-Doo notion. Oh, and it stars Maribel Martin? How surprising! Why, after seeing The Blood Spattered Bride, I'd watch her in anything. And it also stars Viveca "dotty old Aunt Bedelia" Lindfors? Verily, this Bell from Hell should be a delight."

A DELIGHT IT WAS NOT...but it's not really the movie's fault, I discovered quickly enough- it's the cruddy 50-pack quality of the transfer. Sometimes you can live with it, and sometimes you simply should not. Remember how I said as much when I recently reviewed Messiah of Evil, how you'd be cheating yourself if you watched the Mill Creek cheapo version and not the special edition? Well, I'm going to take my own advice with A Bell from Hell. Yeah, I watched the whole thing. But the audio was so damn awful- I mean truly, truly, truly outrageous awful that I could barely tell what was going on. Huge chunks of dialogue were simply lost to me because it sounded like the cast of characters consisted solely of Charlie Brown's teachers.

The picture quality was equally awful, but I'll get to that.

Basically, I got enough of the gist of things to know that the film had to be better than what I was watching. I wondered if there was a better version out there somewhere- and guess what? There is! Take a gander at these comparisons between the "Chilling Classic" version I watched and Pathfinder's Special Edition:

There are COLORS! I had no idea. And this isn't the worst of it; there were certainly plenty of times I couldn't tell what the hell was going on at all.

So, I'm going to pretend I've never seen A Bell from Hell at all. I'm fixin' to seek out the Special Edition so I can give both the movie and my eyeballs the treatment they deserve. The multi-packs are sneaky, you see, and cheaper isn't always better. They've got good films- really good films- mixed in with the utter crap. I know enough to stay away from the obligatory Argento films, to wait to see those the way they're meant to be seen. But A Bell from Hell...I didn't know, I swear! A real review, then, will have to will we. Nyah.


Anonymous said...

Judging by these screen grabs, you were suffering from a pretty bad pan & scan too. Enough to make Tim Lucas turn over in his grave (if he weren't still alive and healthy.)

Craig Blamer said...

What's especially messed up about the movie is that the director died on the last day of shooting... falling out of the same bell tower.

Frank White said...

I applied for a job at Mill Creek, but decided against it before going in for the interview. It wasn't worth selling my soul to the gods of mediocrity... also I probably wasn't qualified.

Stacie Ponder said...

Yeah, Craig, I read about that when I was looking for info on the film and other editions...and I guess there's some nice political undertones to the movie as well- I...uh...didn't pick up on those since I couldn't make out most of the dialogue.

These Mill Creek movies are...well, I don't think I've ever seen one in the proper aspect ratio. Sometimes that's acceptable, maybe- especially if there are no restored alternatives- and sometimes it's REALLY not, as is the case here.

CashBailey said...

I suggest anyone who liked the sound of MESSIAH OF EVIL buy that excellent Code Red DVD right now.

Code Red have just announced that they would be closing down next year.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I can give it another chance. I saw that Mill Creek version and it shattered something in my brain.

Carrie said...

Is it just me or is it two different women in the scene where she's looking in the mirror? That's pretty bad quality!

Thomas Duke said...

I originally saw this via the Unicorn VHS (which is where the Mill Creek may have been sourced from), and couldn't get into it, but I loved it when I saw the Pathfinder DVD (which I now own). The Mill Creek may be heavily cut, as was the VHS tape, particuarly with the flashback to when the dude is working at a slaughterhouse.

dementia13 said...

Something else I've seen with these 50-packs, is that you often get heavily-cut American or PG-versions of these movies. And I hate this because...I'm a perv, and I want to see all the naughty bits left in? No, sometimes they're chopped so badly that they don't even make sense anymore.