Blu-ray Movie Review – The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970)

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Directed by Dario Argento
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1970
Blu-ray Release Date: June 20, 2017

I think every horror filmmaker has a single work that most audiences associate with when they hear his or her name. When folks hear George Romero, I’ll bet most think of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD; when they talk about Lucio Fulci, they think ZOMBIE; and when the discussion turns to Dario Argento, they think SUSPIRIA.

But when I personally hear Argento’s name, I immediately think of the film that put him on the map: THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE. This movie helped launch the giallo genre into the mainstream public’s eye, and it also introduced a master filmmaker to the world. Thanks to the fine folks at Arrow and MVD, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE is available now on a special edition Blu-ray that offers a slew of extras in addition to an HD version of the movie. Horror fans and thriller buffs alike will want to add this to their libraries immediately!

If you are not familiar with THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

In 1970, young first-time director Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria) made his indelible mark on Italian cinema with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage a film which redefined the ‘giallo’ genre of murder-mystery thrillers and catapulted him to international stardom.

Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante, We Own the Night), an American writer living in Rome, inadvertently witnesses a brutal attack on a woman (Eva Renzi, Funeral in Berlin) in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help, he grows increasingly obsessed with the incident. Convinced that something he saw that night holds the key to identifying the maniac terrorizing Rome, he launches his own investigation parallel to that of the police, heedless of the danger to both himself and his girlfriend Giulia (Suzy Kendall, Spasmo)…

A staggeringly assured debut, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage establishes the key traits that would define Argento’s filmography, including lavish visuals and a flare for wildly inventive, brutal scenes of violence. With sumptuous cinematography by Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now) and a seductive score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time in the West), this landmark film has never looked or sounded better in this new, 4K-restored limited edition from Arrow Video!

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Argento a few months ago at Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas (don’t believe me? Click here to check out the pics!), and the guy is a class act. I found it very humbling to be in the presence of such a horror genius, and I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity. Interestingly, Arrow Video was also in attendance at TFW for the first time ever, and they show the restored version of THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE as one of the weekend’s film features. This was obviously a major treat, since Argento was a featured guest.

THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE is shot very well, and the cinematography shows Argento’s trademark style of stark color schemes and a bizarre patterns. I love this aspect of his films, especially those seen in SUSPIRIA, because it draws the eye to unusual places on the screen. The HD transfer is fantastic, and the Blu-ray gives both the picture and the sound a major upgrade to previous DVD versions.

The acting is very good, although I’m not familiar with most of the cast. A couple of names, like Suzy Kendall and Tony Musante stick out, but only because I’ve heard them discussed within the context of this film.

The special effects are pretty good for the time period. Many of the films I see from around this era contain paint-like blood, which are blood effects that are thin, runny, and overly bright. The blood in THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE is actually darker than most, and therefore looks fairly realistic.

The plot is a slick “whodunit” with a nice twist at the end that I confess I did not see coming. Argento is to be commended for his directing as well as his writing; he creates a clever serial-killer mystery that leaves you guessing until the end.

THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE is a major win for me, and I’m extremely happy with how Arrow and MVD handled it. This Limited Edition set has beautiful cover art and a host of special features. Pick this one up soon, before they sell out!!

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the camera negative in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
• English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
• 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
• New analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger
• New interview with writer/director Dario Argento
• New interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp
• Limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook

MSB

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