Friday, September 9, 2011

THE 10TH VICTIM (Blu-ray)

A cult classic from the swinging sixties, Elio Petri’s THE 10TH VICTIM (1965) is a fun slice of Europop, with an intriguing sci-fi premise that has proven to be somewhat prescient in recent years. Now, Blue Underground has given it an HD upgrade for Blu-ray, and it looks terrific.

It is the 21st century and the governments of the world have turned murder into a sporting event called The Big Hunt. Intended as a sort of pressure valve for society, volunteers sign on to hunt and be hunted by other players. Each volunteer is contracted to ten "hunts;" five as hunter and five as victim. Survivors receive huge cash prizes, and if they survive all ten hunts, they get a million bucks cash. When lovely Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress) is pitted against Italian champion Marcello Polletti (Marcello Mastroianni) in her last hunt, she arranges to have her presumed victory televised for her corporate sponsors. Unfortunately for her, Marcello has no desire to cooperate.

An audacious mix of satire, farce, science fiction and romance, THE 10TH VICTIM is a genuinely unique film experience. Its tone, story and production design has influenced a wide variety of subsequent films, from DEATH RACE 2000 and THE RUNNING MAN to Mike Myers’ Austin Powers series, and predicted the "reality television" craze that plagues us today. For aficionados of 60s Eurocinema, it’s a must-see.

Previously released on DVD by Anchor Bay and Blue Underground, the latter company's new Blu-ray disc is newly remastered from the original negative and looks superior in every way to the prior standard-definition releases. Presented in 1080p at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture quality is remarkable for a 46-year old film. Color and detail are good, and it is virtually blemish-free, with a fine, non-obtrusive layer of film grain that gives the presentation a suitably film-like look. Audio is provided in DTS-HD Italian and DTS-HD Mono English (dub). Optional English, French and Spanish subtitles are available. Extras include a new-to-this edition featurette on Marcello Mastroianni, the U.S. and Italian theatrical trailers, and several still galleries.

A one-of-a-kind film, THE 10TH VICTIM is very much a product of its era, with a 60s "mod" vibe that may seem campy or dated today. But if you have a genuine interest in cinematic sci-fi satire, I strongly recommend checking it out. If you are already a  fan of the film and are Blu-ray equipped, you may want to consider an upgrade when it is released next Tuesday.

Recommended.

BUYThe 10th Victim [Blu-ray]