DELIRIUM (1987) Blu-ray
Director: Lamberto Bava
Code Red Releasing

Code Red busts out Serena Grandi's gravity-defying bust in HD with their Blu-ray of Lamberto Bava's 1980s giallo DELIRIUM.

When widowed hooker-turned-cover girl-turned-magazine editor Gloria (Serena Grandi, MIRANDA) decides to recreate on her famous photo shoots with model Kim (Trine Michelson, SPECTERS), she become the target of an obsessive fan who starts murdering her other models and posing their bodies in front of blown-up photographs of her. Inspector Corsi (Lino Salemme, DEMONIA) investigates and suspects include horny teenage paraplegic voyeur Mark (Karl Zinny, DEMONS) – whose paralysis may be psychosomatic – gay photographer Roberto (David Brandon, STAGEFRIGHT) – literally, the only motivation another character cites for him to be the murderer is because he is gay – Gloria's hulking actor boyfriend Alex (George Eastman, ANTHROPHAGUS), her brother Tony (Vanni Corbellini, IN THE BELLY OF THE ARCHITECT), her trusted assistant Evelyn (Daria Nicolodi, TENEBRAE), as well as professional rival Flora (Capucine, THE EXQUISITE CADAVER) from whom she has poached model Sabrina (singer Sabrina Salerno). As the killer turns his blade to the suspects, will Gloria discover the killer in time or become part of his ultimate tribute to her?

One of a handful of theatrical features Lamberto Bava directed during the mid-eighties when he was also working just as prolifically in television with the TV movies that comprised the BRIVIDO GIALLO series – produced like this feature by Luciano Martino's Dania Film – DELIRIUM (PHOTOS OF GIOIA) is a good-looking if unexceptional giallo. While the gore is rather toned down, what keeps the film interesting is its surreal peeks into the psyche of the killer who sees his victims before killing them as things like a large bloodshot eyeball or an insectoid head as the red and blue gel lighting cinematographer Gianlorenzo Battaglia (A BLADE IN THE DARK) throbs to the scoring of Simon Boswell (LORD OF ILLUSIONS) which seems to bridge his work from STAGEFRIGHT to DEMONS 2. The top-heavy Grandi pulls the appropriate faces as the damsel-in-distress but Nicolodi and Brandon give the better performances with not enough material while Salemme's (who went from DEMONS' punk Ripper to DEMONS 2's apartment security guard) detective proves just as dispensable as detectives in most examples of the genre.

Unreleased theatrically or on home video in the US, DELIRIUM was first accessible in English via a Japanese tape. Shriek Show's 2002 DVD – reissued in a boxed set with Joe D'Amato's BEYOND THE DARKNESS and Ruggero Deodato's THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK – presented the film in a PAL-converted anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that included interviews with Bava, Eastman, and Brandon. Code Red's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 widescreen transfer is a big upgrade in terms of color and detail, with the PAL-converted Shriek Show transfer looking hazy by comparison (and not just in terms of eighties TV-style photography). The blue and red gels are more intense and the prosthetic make-up effects of Rosario Prestopino (PHENOMENA) are easier to appreciate. On the other hand, the English title sequence unfolds entirely on black without the interspersed opticals of still photographs – shot by Angelo Frontoni – of Grandi (which make up about a third of the actress' nude scenes in the movie), apart from the ones that appear just after the director's credit. Presumably this is an oversight on the part of the licensor and I would be surprised if the recent UK Blu-ray took steps to rectify the issue since the running time is within two seconds of this release's 93:47 running time. Although the end credits specify that the film was mixed in Dolby Stereo, the disc presents its DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track in mono as was the case with previous releases.

In addition to the "vintage interviews" from the Shriek Show DVD, Code Red has conducted four new interviews in association with Freak-O-Rama. In "Snapshots of a Murder" (18:51), Bava confesses to having a love/hate relationship with the film because he liked the script but not so much Grandi. He expresses his admiration for producer Martino and his prolific output during the period as well as for actors Nicolodi and Brandon while also stating his preference for Michelson and Salerno over Grandi. In "Stories from the Bathtub" (8:58), actor Eastman lets loose on Bava, calling him a "half man" compared to his father Mario (with whom Eastman worked in RABID DOGS), Grandi a "pitiful actress" and annoying (he signed onto the production when Edwige Fenech was slated for the lead), and disliking Martino for changing his script for THE GREAT ALLIGATOR. He does have kind words for Brandon and Nicolodi but admits that much of his work was atrocious apart from a few works like KEOMA for which he wrote the script and a role for himself that was taken by another actor. In "Murders in Red and Blue" (8:32), director of photography Battaglia discusses the use of red and blue polarizing filters for the kill scenes, working with animal trainer Maurizio Garrone (OPERA) on the scene with the bees, and reiterates an anecdote told by Bava in his interview in which they started shooting the scene before noticing that Salerno had forgotten to take off her underwear so Bava was shouting "Take off your panties" through the bullhorn without noticing a troupe of nuns and schoolchildren in the courtyard behind the set.

In "Inside Delirium" (12:50), art director Massimo Antonello Geleng (THE CHURCH) reveals that it is not a favorite because there was little for him to do in terms of design since the villa was a furnished showplace. He did enjoy designing the set at De Paolis studios for Salerno's fashion shoot and the magazine office, and also takes credit for the killer's point-of-view visions of the victims as monsters. The vintage interviews with Bava (12:37) and Eastman (8:36) are interesting specifically because they directly contradict the remarks they made in the newer interviews about Grandi (with Eastman noting that they are still friends) and one another. Brandon also is present in an interview (12:09) in which he recalls touring in Italy with the Lindsay Kemp dance troupe before getting into acting. He has little to say about the film but does recall that Bava and his son Fabrizio (who served as assistant director) were good ping-pong players in between shooting, and that he broke his ankle during the climactic chase and had to do additional takes before going to the hospital. There is no trailer for the film (I've never come across one) and there are no trailers for other Code Red releases on the disc. (Eric Cotenas)