Tuesday, March 10, 2015

L'assassino ha riservato nove poltrone - Camera Obscura Blu-ray review

L'assassino ha riservato nove poltrone, aka The Killer Reserved Nine Seats
Italy, 1974
Directed by Giuseppe Bennati
Written by Giuseppe Bennati, Paolo Levi and Biagio Proietti
Cast: Chris Avram, Rosanna Schiaffino, Howard Ross, Paola Senatore, Eva Czemerys, Janet Agren, Lucretia Love, Gaetano Russo, Andrea Scotti, Eduardo Filipone

Label - Camera Obscura
Release Date - June 26, 2014
Running Time - 1.43.31
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1
Video - 1080p, AVC
Audio - Italian, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
Subtitles - German, English
Region Code - B

The Movie

A group of people led by wealthy Patrick Devenant arrive to an ancient theater in the middle of the night to continue the party they were having at Patrick's place. Among the guests are mostly Patrick's relatives, his fiancée and daughter and friends. Also a stranger who claims he knows everything about the theater. But the problem is that no one really knows who that stranger is. The theater has been owned by the Devenant family for centuries. It's been abandoned for the last 100 years. Soon the stranger disappears and a black gloved hand cuts a rope holding a big wooden beam to crush Patrick. Fortunately for the man the beam misses its target. Patrick gathers the group together to tell them someone has just tried to kill him. But someone locks all the doors trapping the group inside the theater and a crazed masked man starts killing off the cast one by one. As the killings go on Patrick remembers the legend about the curse on his family: Every 100 years on the 15th of February in this theater a group of people is killed. Also there's a picture showing various methods of killings and the maniac follows that picture very closely. Who is that killer? Someone from Patrick's relatives? Or maybe one of his friends? Or maybe the mysterious stranger? Or maybe someone from the netherworld?

Shot in 1974 by Giuseppe Bennati, L'assassino ha riservato nove poltrone is a very good but weird giallo. By that time the giallo genre was slowly dying off. Giuseppe Benatti wasn't a very well-known director. Before L'assassino he made a couple of films in the 50's and 60's. L'assassino was his last movie. As I said L'assassino is a weird giallo. It starts as a routine giallo but soon gets supernatural touches. The plot is simple and is a variation of Agatha Cristie's "Ten Little Indians" or "And Then There Were None" if you prefer this title - ten people arrive to an island and are killed one by one. In the movie there are 9 people related to each other and everyone has their own motives to kill. We get back stories of all the characters except the stranger, plus a lot of red herrings to keep us busy guessing who the killer might be. At the same time there are questions that weren't answered. Whose voices we were listening from the stage? Why those voices couldn't be recorded? Who was that stranger and who opened the doors of the theater in the morning? As you can see, there's not much logic in this movie but we don't love Eurohorror and gialli for logic, do we? We have all the giallo ingredients, beautiful babes, who don't think twice to get naked, lesbians of course, a masked killer. Also some incest. Heavy on atmosphere and light on gore although we get one very gruesome scene, L'assassino ha riservato nove poltrone is a beautifully filmed movie. The ancient theater is beautiful, the scenes in the crypt remind me of the gothic movies of the 60's. The cast is great as well.  It is an excellent giallo with touches of gothic and supernatural. Very highly recommended.

L'assassino ha riservato nove poltrone arrives on a 50GB dual layer Blu-ray disc. Encoded in 1080p AVC, the 1.85:1 framed picture looks absolutely fantastic. It was a very obscure and hard to find title. For years it was available on bootleg VHS and VHS-to-DVD releases, with horrendous image quality. Last year Camera Obscura went HD with this stunning release. Colors look very natural, black level is very strong, no contrast boost. The grain looks very filmic, no traces of DNR and edge enhancement. It was a revelation to watch this release after those murky bootlegs.


We get two audio options: Italian and English DTS-HD Master Audio in Mono. Optional German and English subtitles are included too. Both audio tracks are well balanced and sound fine and are easy to follow. No issues here. The English subtitles are easy to read.
Please note that there are some scenes for which no English audio was dubbed. Those scenes are presented in Italian with optional German or English subtitles.


Camera Obscura provided the following extras for this release:

Audio commentary with Marcus Stiglegger and Kai Naumann. It's in German but Camera Obscura provided English subtitles for it. As usual Marcus and Kai give us a lot of useful information on the film’s background, cast etc. 

Interview with Howard Ross - In this 8 minute interview, the actor talks about the cast, the director and the main location of the movie, Fabriano Theater.

Interview with Biagio Proietti - the interview runs for 28 minutes and he talks about his career and L'assassino ha riservato nove poltrone.

Picture gallery.

Italian and English trailers for the film.

A very interesting and informative booklet is inside the packaging.

Final Thoughts

L'assassino ha riservato nove poltrone is Camera Obscura's first release on Blu-ray. Camera Obscura saved it from obscurity by releasing this impressive edition. I'd easily include this Blu-ray in the top 10 genre releases of 2014! If only all the labels would work like Camera Obscura. Wonderful HD debut from one of the best labels specializing in Italian genre cinema.

Show your support to Camera Obscura and purchase this Blu-ray from DiabolikDVD.  

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