For most of my film loving life I have been a huge admirer of Dario Argento. The Italian Hitchcock has created some of the most influential horror films of all time including Suspiria, Tenebrae, Opera, Inferno, Phenomena, Deep Red and The Stendahl Syndrome. His unique blend of horror, gore, and art house aesthetics have cemented his place in film history. Arrow Video, one of the premiere labels for classic horror releases on Blu-ray, has released a huge new special edition of Argento’s directorial debut, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.
Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) is an American writer working in Italy when he witnesses the attempted murder of Monica Ranieri (Eva Renzi), an art gallery owner. Inspector Morosini (Enrico Maria Salerno) is on the trail of the serial killer responsible and asks for Sam to help. But will Sam, staying with his girlfriend Julia (Suzy Kendall), be putting more on the line than a delayed trip home by helping?
When I sit down and watch The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, the first thing that always comes into my mind is – this was Argento’s FIRST attempt behind the camera? It is such a beautifully films, meticulously constructed and wonderful mystery/thriller/horror film it is astounding to me that it was his first film. The entire cast are excellent, the story is classic yet original, and the music by none other than Ennio Morricone is haunting and worth a listen all on its own. Even with all his great films, Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage remains one of his very best.
The new special edition from Arrow will literally make Argento fans drool. It starts off strong with a thick slipcase with gorgeous new artwork, a limited edition 60 page booklet on the film that is stunningly designed, 6 lobby card reproductions, a double sided poster featuring original poster art on one side and the new art on the other which also serves on the reversible Blu-ray sleeve. On the actual disc you get a brand new 4K restoration print that is staggering, Italian and English soundtracks, new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, The Power of Perception, a new visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, a new analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger, a new interview with writer/director Dario Argento and a new interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp). The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is an exhaustive and absolutely definitive special edition of a true masterpiece of horror. Very highly recommended.