Soavi's Masterpiece, Dellamorte Dellamore

Ah man, it's been a long wait for a proper HD release of Michele Soavi's Dellamorte Dellamore, the demented comic book adaptation that's often called the last great Italian horror film.  It had some fine releases on DVD, and I've owned a few of them over the years, but on BD, they were both rare and uninspiring.  You'd be happy to pay to import a German, barebones disc with the old DVD master just because it wasn't compressed to 720p.  We were all excited when Shameless finally announced a BD special edition for 2018 until somebody asked them for the specs and it turned out the frame-rate was botched.  Still, a lot of desperate fans bought it anyway.  But happily, you can put all that behind you now.  Severin has a brand new 4k restoration from the negative with a whole ton of special features on BD and 4k Ultra HD with Dolby Vision HDR, fancy packaging and everything you could want.
Dellamorte Dellamore is based on Italian horror comic Dylan Dog, or more precisely Tiziano Sclavi's prototypical novel about a similar character in the DD universe, Francesco Dellamorte.  Both characters were drawn to resemble Rupert Everett, so it was quite a coup for Soavi to cast him here, not just for the coincidence, but the pitch-perfect performance Everett was able to deliver in a film where, after all, a lot of the cast is dubbed.  And it's not just Everett who's pitch-perfect here; the stylish direction, score, practical effects, supporting cast and the writer's clever blend of humor and genuine ennui are all operating on a level I'm not sure the original source material even fully deserved.  The elements have aligned to lift up an above average graphic novel to a bit of a cinematic masterpiece.
1) 2006 Anchor Bay DVD; 2) 2012 Shameless DVD;
3) 2023 Severin BD; 4) 2023 Severin UHD.

Each of these discs pretty much preserve the slightly pillar-boxed aspect ratio of 1.66:1, though if you look closely, you'll see Anchor Bay's disc is cropped a little tighter and really framed at 1.62:1.  I only replaced the AB DVD with the Shameless because it subtitled the Italian commentary for the first time, but I never realized until I started doing this comparison how they improved the picture.  It's not just the framing, which the 4k restoration has mirrored, but they've got more natural colors and toned down the edge enhancement/ contrast.  Of course, that's all academic now.  The colors are even more natural now and fine detail, like the mayor's hair, has been restored.  Of course, we're comparing UHD to DVD, so they have a huge advantage; but happily they didn't blow it.  Grain is still tough to discern, which seems to be a thing with Severin - are they lightly DNRing their UHDs (or is the Italian company that owns the film materials)?  Because the feature's only about 100 minutes and they've given it nearly 80GB, so it shouldn't be a compression issue.  Not that this looks like Predator anything.  And everything else, like the black levels (especially considering how much of this film is set at night) and the naturalism of the 4k are quite strong.

We're given a surprising amount of options for the audio: a Dolby Atmos track, a 5.1 and a 2.0, both in DTS-HD, all of which sound bold, clear and frankly rather similar.  We also get the Italian 2.0 in DTS-HD, and optional English subtitles for both the English and Italian audio tracks.  I'd recommend the English audio, since Rupert is speaking English in his own voice, but a number of supporting characters are dubbed, so both are valid options.
As far as extras?  Oh boy, Severin has us covered.  But they're not the only special features in town.  Anchor Bay had a nice half-hour featurette, which talked to a number of the key players, including Soavi, screenwriter Gianni Romoli, Sergio Stivaletti and Anna Falchi.  Shameless dropped that, but they preserved that aforementioned commentary from the 2008 Medusa DVD, and they added English subtitles for the first time.  It's Soavi and Romoli together, and it's pretty great.  They go at a good pace and cover a lot, including a few details that don't pop up in other extras.  Both discs also included inserts with notes, the trailer and a bunch of bonus trailers (especially Shameless, they have like fifteen!).
Thankfully, Severin keeps the commentary, too; though they almost don't need it, since the new interviews they conducted are pretty comprehensive and cover just about every topic mentioned and ignored by that commentary.  Romoli's interview goes for a good hour.  And they manage to get a great sit-down with Rupert Everett, which is impressive.  They also got a new interview with Falchi, plus cinematographer Mauro Marchetti, Stefano Masciarelli who played the mayor, Fabiana Formica who played the mayor's daughter, composer Riccardo Biseo, set designer Antonello Geleng and of course Sergio Stivaletti.  There's also a brief interview with Alan Jones to fill in the last few informational details, though he clearly doesn't know what he's talking about regarding the comics.  He goes into a whole explanation of "why hasn't there ever been a Dylan Dog film," when of course there was.  It's no Dellamorte Dellamore, but it has its qualities.  Jones also points out that "in Dylan Dog, the sidekick is based on Groucho Marx.  Here, I don't quite understand what he was doing."  I've never read an issue, and even I know Dylan Dog's sidekick was Groucho, not Dellamorte's, so of course he's not doing the Groucho schtick.  But hey, he's a film guy, not a comic book guy; what do you want?
Also on here is the old featurette that also used to be on that Medusa disc, though this one had subtitles even at the time.  It's good because it was made during production, so it has on-set footage and interviews with a couple people, including the editor and François Hadji-Lazaro, who couldn't contribute to the new features.  The Anchor Bay featurette wasn't so fortunate to make the transition, but that's fine, since nobody says anything in that that they don't also say in these other extras.  There are also two theatrical trailers, the complete soundtrack CD, a glossy full-color 50 page book, and a stylish slipbox.
So this is unquestionably recommended.  A fantastic film that's been in dire need of a fully loaded special edition since the concept existed, finally gets one.  This and Spider Labyrinth in the same month has Severin taking some serious cracks at Italian Horror fans' want lists.  What could be next... Demons 5?


  1. The Medusa DVD had the strongest image from the DVD era, and was worth holding onto considering the pallor and black crush of the various BDs, but the Severin release is quite a stunning upgrade. I am curious if there is a bit too much highlight detail in the last shot before they enter "the rest of the world", since you can see the road continuing outside the tunnel, whereas it was previously just blown out to white.

  2. The Devil's Veil / The Mask of Satan is indeed coming.

    1. Nice! It's goofy (and surprisingly non-violent), but I like that one.

  3. I'm just hoping they (SOMEONE!) releases a bluray edition at some point. can't use the uhd and the cd, okay-neat, but don't crave it...for this price? pass, unfortunately. the brs are so friggin exciting! thankfully the psychic and spider labyrinth have options for cats like me.

  4. woohoo! apparently i got my wish! (we'll see when it comes) the severin blu is on its way for those of us who aren't on the 4k train yet!