A supernaturally tinged take on “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, UNTIL DEATH (Per sempre) is part of a quartet of feature length films shot for the Italian television series, "Brivido giallo". Other entries in the series include Una notte al cimitero and A cena col vampire - both of which have recently seen releases through Mya Communication under the titles GRAVEYARD DISTURBANCE and DINNER WITH A VAMPIRE, respectively - and La casa dell'orco, which was released on DVD by Shriek Show as DEMONS 3: THE OGRE. A somewhat deceptive title given that it has nothing at all to do with the Dario Argento-produced DEMONS films from which it is being associated.
Having successfully murdered her husband and disposed of his body, Linda (Gioia Scola, CONQUEST) and her lover Carlo (David Brandon, STAGE FRIGHT) settle into their new lives, running a seaside diner and renting boats to the locals. Years later their relationship, which is already rather tumultuous, is put to the test by the unexpected midnight arrival of rugged stranger Marco (Urbano Barberini, OPERA). Hired on to help with the restaurant, both Linda and Carlo can not help but take note of Marco’s disturbing familiarity with their home and business. He knows where old clothes are kept without being told, he has knowledge of family recipes that Linda has yet to make public and his fondness for Alex (Marco Vivio, DEMONS 2), Linda’s son, is kind of creepy given that he’s only known the little guy for a couple of days. Marco’s inside knowledge of their lifestyle and habits lead Carlo to believe that he is working with the police, who undoubtedly must have uncovered the body of Linda’s husband. Linda however is not so quick to jump to such conclusions as she is busy grappling with her own feelings for Marco, all the while trying to raise a son who keeps having nightmares about a dead man breaking through his bedroom walls.
All four films in the "Brivido giallo" series were directed by Lamberto Bava, offspring of the great Mario Bava (BLACK SUNDAY). No stranger to chilling material, Lamberto’s previous projects include A BLADE IN THE DARK and MACABRE, each of which featured their fare share of horror and suspense. Lamberto also co-wrote each of the four "Brivido giallo" entries alongside Italian screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti, whose list of credits include collaborations with such notable directors as Lucio Fulci (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD) and Dario Argento (CAT O' NINE TAILS). Utilizing minimal set pieces, simple but solid visual effects and an effective score by Simon Boswell (HARDWARE), Bava delvers a strong and stimulating tale of murder and suspense. Tension builds steadily from the moment the film starts and is held till the film's conclusion thanks in part to the incredible effective portrayals from the two leads.
Gioia Scola is absolutely stunning! The film warrants repeat viewings if for no other reason than as an excuse to watch her prance around in her evening attire. She is able to make confusion look sexy; all the while delivering a performance that is enigmatic and at times sympathetic, which is quite the feet when you consider that she helped to murder her husband in the opening reel. David Brandon is equally as effective as Carlo. Brandon does a tremendous job of playing aggressive towards those he is clearly stronger than yet hesitant and almost afraid toward anyone who might see him for the coward he actually is. His gruff, bug eyed reactions are priceless and just over the top enough to extenuate just what an unrelenting asshole his character is capable of becoming.
Released on VHS overseas by Trans-Global International under the curious title THE CHANGELING 2: THE REVENGE, UNTIL DEATH found its way onto DVD in both Germany, through X-Rated Kult Video, and Italy, via the Italian arm of the now defunct NoShame, but hasn’t had an easy time finding its way onto American shores until now. The picture is presented in anamorphic widescreen that preserves its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The print used for this transfer shows very little in the way of dirt and debris with coloring appearing accurate if not at times a bit soft. Audio is available in both an English Dub and Italian track, both of which are mono. The English audio wears down toward the film's conclusion as a steady and persistent tick can be heard in the closing reel, comparable to the steady skip of an old LP. The Italian track is in noticeably better condition but unfortunately comes without subtitles, English or otherwise.
There are no extras with this release but in terms of both quality and execution, Mya Communication has taken a couple of baby steps in the right direction with UNTIL DEATH. With a slew of titles scheduled to be released this year, including THE LAST DECAMERON, SWEET TEEN, SATAN’S WIFE and ANNA: THE PLEASURE, THE TORMENT, which was previously release by NoShame under the title SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL, here’s hoping that Mya continues to make marked improvements and successes in 2010. Adding subtitles when the non-English speaking track is clearly superior to the English dub would be a good place to start. Just a suggestion. (Jason McElreath)
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