Raro Video // 2010 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // June 16th, 2012
"It's only a dream. It's only a dream!"
In order to get his latest film financed, young director Alessio Rinaldi (Giuseppe Soleri) is instructed by his production company to work with renowned horror novelist Ubaldo Terzani (Paolo Sassanelli). Before meeting with Terzani, Alessio and his girlfriend Sara (Laura Gigante) begin familiarizing themselves with the authors' work, becoming fans almost immediately.
Leaving Sara behind, Alessio heads to Turin to live with Terzani while they work on their screenplay, but as Alessio becomes more familiar with Terzani's world, he is horrified to discover the true source of the writer's inspiration.
An exploration into the source of horror fiction, Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show finds director Gabriele Albanesi is in no rush to unleash the splatter commonly associated with Italian horror, despite tantalizing the audience with random, but infrequent, bursts of violence throughout the film's opening hour. Though the film's pace may be a little too sedate for some, it is the way the narrative slowly descends into full-on horror that makes it so effective. There's something undeniably entertaining (in a somewhat macabre way) in watching Alessio and Sara go from being fans of Terzani's work to being the unwitting stars of his latest masterpiece.
Actor Paolo Sassanelli is in fine form as the mysterious Terzani. Softly spoken and never less than accommodating, Terzani nevertheless manages to unnerve both the young Alessio and the viewer from the moment he appears. Terzani is not a monster who hides in the shadows. In fact, this is a horror that takes place almost exclusively in well-lit rooms. Instead, it is his mannerisms and unerring ability to unnerve through the power of suggestion that keeps the hairs on the back of one's neck up as Terzani pushes Alessio's boundaries, whilst undermining him at every given opportunity. By the time Terzani finally unleashes his inner demon, it's almost a relief, as the tension that has been building so slowly finally gives way to the long-promised violence.
The special effects work employed, which makes use of practical effects exclusively, really is of the highest order. Multiple dismemberments and examples of unlicensed organ removal are delivered in graphic detail. My only grumble would be an eye gouging -- all shot in extreme close-up -- that fails to uphold the standard set by the rest of the splatter.
Despite nods to Italian horror cinemas past, Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show is very much a contemporary piece -- especially with its mild meta undertones. The one area that is overtly indebted to the past is Valerio Lundini's fabulous score. Recalling the Italian splatter movies of the 1980s, it brings a heap of atmosphere to the production -- particularly the opening theme that is built upon a repetitive, yet no less effective chord sequence.
Were I to offer a criticism of the film, I'd point to the rather rushed and somewhat unsatisfying way the film draws to a close. Having been the very definition of a slow burner, Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show reaches a climax that -- despite upping the ante considerably in terms of gore -- fails to really capitalize on all the good work put into it, as it delivers a formulaic conclusion that lacks the subtlety of what has gone before.
Raro Video's release of Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show (Blu-ray) presents the film in a 1.85:1/1080p transfer. There is a light amount of grain to the image, which I packed with fine detail. The picture is sharp with strong colors and contains rich black levels that add depth to the image. The 5.1 soundtrack also impresses, with the aforementioned score and dialogue being clear. The mix isn't the most dynamic, and rarely makes much use of the full 5.1 setup. Raro has put together a good selection of extras for this release. The commentary track is excellent, though it's worth noting that -- as it is in Italian -- you'll need to switch subtitles and audio tracks in order to appreciate it. A screen test for leading lady Laura Gigante is next, though it offers very little. A selection of trailers is also included, along with one of Albanesi's short films, "Braccati," The Blu-ray also contains a booklet, with essays on the film and director written by Chris Alexander of Fangoria, and a making-of featurette.
Clearly a student of Argento, Bava, and Fulci, writer-director Gabriele Albanesi delivers the first vital Italian horror movie in years with Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show.
Review content copyright © 2012 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Raro Video
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Italian)
* DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (Italian)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Screen Test