Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Spirits of the Dead|
Actors: Jane Fonda, Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Terence Stamp, James Robertson Justice
Directors: Federico Fellini, Louis Malle, Roger Vadim
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror
Spirits of the Dead (a.k.a. "Histoires Extraordinaires") is an eerie film based on the grotesque and macabre stories of 19th century author Edgar Allan Poe. Three separate tales, each created with style and flair by three ... more »
It Could Have Been Great
James D Sigrist | Portland, OR USA | 05/08/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Janus Films participated in the restoration of this film and you would think that that alone would ensure high standards of quality. And for the most part it did. But unmentioned in all the reviews of this DVD is the fact that the best film of the three, Toby Dammit,does not have its English soundtrack included.
Terence Stamp is English and he spoke his part in English.(and what an amazing bit of verbal it was) It just ain't the same thing in dubbed French by another actor. An earlier release of this film delivered the English soundtrack as an option but did not allow you to turn off the English subtitles! (Some of the people that put these things together are really lacking in simple, common sense.) Also the image quality on the previous release is faded and not real sharp. Image quality on this current DVD is excellent. Rich color and very sharp. So the horror of it all is you are left with a very well done restoration with a rather important detail inexplicably left out. The English soundtrack exists and isn't this the whole point of DVD's? I took a chance buying this DVD hoping for an improved version that fixed some of the problems on the earlier release.
The frustrating thing is that it is so close to being there, but a French speaking Terence Stamp is just absurd. Janus Films was also involed in the Criterion Collection new version of Amarcord and they did it perfectly. Everything is there. Wish they used as much care on this one."
Heavy Theta | Lorton, Va United States | 02/05/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As originally conceived by Fellini, the Toby Dammitt segment was, imho, the greatest work he ever committed to film. Taut, lean, stylish and very effective. I saw the film when it was first released and am fortunate enough to have this segment on an old beta tape.
Beyond Terrence Stamp's wonderful delivery, is the crucial element of the english actor being alone and isolated in Italy by his language, slowly pushing him deeper into surrender and madness. All of this is lost in the current French dubbed edition.
(On the other hand, it must be a plus to have the first two segments, overdubbed into English for US release, back to their original French. However, these segments are competent, or somewhat interesting at best, compared to fantastic finale.)
Please let Janus know that they have broken trust by butchering a great artist's masterwork."
Toby Dammit, pourquoi parle francais?
B. Taft | Los Angeles, CA | 01/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In response to the reviewer's query below concerning the French overdubbing of "Toby Dammit" - sorry, this DVD ALSO features a French actor's voice dubbed over that of Terrence Stamp. I, too, was greatly disappointed at this.
I do not know of any other version available that has Stamp's English dialogue, but I remember seeing it on television in the 80s and onscreen at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood in 2004. Maybe if there is enough demand they will remaster it and put out an English version of this delightful foray into subtle, 1960's-style psychological horror? One can hope."
Handsomely mounted, only slightly scary horror
Jeremy Heilman | Brooklyn, NY USA | 12/09/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Spirits of the Dead, a handsomely mounted 1967 film that features three segments from three European giants (Vadim, Malle, and Fellini) all based on Edgar Allen Poe short stories. The third segment, Fellini's Toby Dammit, is so incredibly different and dense when compared to the other two that you almost forget you've watched an anthology by the time the film ends. His work here is as good as he's ever been visually, and the world that he creates perfectly represents the inner turmoil of the self-destructive actor Toby Dammit (Terrance Stamp). The director presents his typical circus or parade; whichever you want to call it, and this time it shows the world of the celebrity in modern day Rome. It's obviously been liberally adapted from the original Poe story, and it's only nominally a horror tale (Toby is stalked by a Björk-ish devil figure), but the film transcends any generic or authorial labels: it's purely Fellini's, and at a little over forty minutes long it doesn't burn out the audience in the way that his longer pageants tend to. The other two segments are certainly solid, even if they might not top Fellini's work with sheer panache. Vadim's piece is the better of the remainder, and it features Jane and Peter Fonda as feuding cousins. This is the most overtly supernatural segment of the trio, and even it feels somewhat subdued when compared to modern ghost stories. Jane Fonda is excellent in her role, and she brings a combination of refinement and haughtiness to the part that vitalizes the character. Like all of the film, this bit of the film is well shot, but Vadim's captured some gorgeous outdoor scenery, whereas the others take place mostly indoors. The tale itself is spooky enough, and the running time feels sufficient. The only real negative mark here is that the film resorts to a slightly jarring voiceover narration here to fill in background details. Malle's segment is likable enough, but it feels somewhat slighter than the other two. Its gambling scene evokes Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (just as the driving sequences in the Fellini segment recall A Clockwork Orange), even if Spirits was made several years earlier, and there is genuine tension aroused at the card table. Throughout the film, there is a relatively low gore quotient, and the acting is uniformly solid. As far as psychological horror goes, the films work well, and that they realize Poe's stories were mainly internalized distortions of the world works to their advantage, even as they approach the material in vastly different ways."