How does the new 2K restoration stack against Blue Underground’s already respectable 2011 disc?
This article contains several comparisons which contrast the older Blue Underground Blu-ray transfer with the new Arrow Video restoration. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.
Arrow Video’s new edition of Torso releases on October 30.
Arrow Video’s upcoming Blu-ray edition Sergio Martini’s Torso boasts a new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative by Arrow Films. The film was previously released on a very respectable Blu-ray edition by Blue Underground in 2011, which was also a transfer from the original negative, and new at the time.
These comparisons use the 90-min English version of the film. Comparing them overall, Arrow’s new version tones down the brightness and contrast which were a bit too high, and also opens up to a slightly wider, less cropped picture. The grain is also less noisy and pointillized than before. (The comparison is similar to that of The Cat O’ Nine Tails, another Italian title which Arrow released after a previous version from Blue Underground).
On the English version of the film, Blue Underground’s release actually displayed (added?) the alternate title of “Torso” on the title card, not seen in Arrow’s release.
The shots below demonstrate how the older transfer was bit too bright — the sky blows out to white. In the new transfer some color information is retained, and you can also see the wires between the buildings more clearly.
The film’s nocturnal scenes also benefit from the reduced brightness, looking more natural and atmospheric.
Of particular note on the shot below is that the lower contrast improves the legibility of the “Paesa Sera”signage.
A few close-ups to give an idea of detail:
Both transfers/discs are quite good, but I’d give Arrow’s the edge. I like the reduction of artificial brightness, which is fitting given the overall tone. If you don’t own the film but want to, this is the version to buy. Though in defense of the older disc, I do like its more pronounced grain (which, as absurd as it might sound, is a look I closely associate with Italian films).
As for upgrading, not as easy to recommend based on PQ alone. On this, the disc’s ample new supplements make a better argument than the restoration. Also of note is that while Arrow’s disc has a bout three hours worth of newly produced featurettes (and clearly more bonus material overall than the prior disc), it does not port over all of the Blue Underground disc’s prior materials, which also included a 10-minute interview with Sergio Martino, a short intro by Eli Roth, and a pair of TV spots. For this reason, fans who choose upgrade might still want to hang onto their old discs all the same.
Here’s an outline of the disc’s specs (as provided by Arrow):
• Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative by Arrow Films
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of both versions of the film: the 94-minute Italian and 90-minute English cuts
• Original lossless Italian and English mono soundtracks*
• English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
• New audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author of All the Colours of Sergio Martino
• New video interview with co-writer/director Sergio Martino
• New video interview with actor Luc Merenda
• New video interview with co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi
• New video interview with filmmaker Federica Martino, daughter of Sergio Martino
• New video interview with Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film
• 2017 Abertoir International Horror Festival Q&A with Sergio Martino
• Italian and English theatrical trailers
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Howard Hughes
* The English audio track on the original, longer cut has some portions of English audio missing. English audio for these sections was either never recorded or has been lost. As such, these sequences are presented with Italian audio, subtitled in English.”
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.