January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

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Plot: What’s it about?

Jane Baker (Bernice Stegers) is a married woman with two children, but she leads a hidden life that not even her family is aware of. She has a lover on the side, a man named Fred and she visits him often to indulge her sexual desires. But when she goes to see Fred this time, she leaves her children home alone and her imbalanced daughter Lucy (Veronica Zinny) decides to murder her younger brother Michael. She does to by taking him into the bathroom, forcing his head under the water in the bathtub, and holding him under until he has drowned. Then she calls her mother and informs her that there’s been an accident, which causes Jane to have Fred get her home as fast as possible. But en route to her home, the two get into an accident of their own, one which leaves Fred as dead as a doornail. The grief in Jane’s life has driven her mad at this point, so she is placed in a mental institution to rest and attempt to overcome her losses. She is soon released however, though she quickly returns to Fred’s apartment and begins some deviant behaviors. A shrine is soon built to her former lover and as she revisits the encounters in her mind, she swells with sexual desire and gives herself relief in that area. But when a handyman in the building gets involved and little Lucy begins to sneak around, will Jane’s dark secrets be revealed?

Once, she kept a lover on the side, but that’s nothing compared to what she’s keeping in the freezer. With a tag line like that, its hard to resist the debut feature film from Lamberto Bava, son of horror legend Mario Bava. But Macabre isn’t a traditional horror movie from start to finish, its more like a psychological drama for the first hour or so, though things pick up toward the final act, to say the least. The story is solid, but basic and until the final one-third of the movie, things tend to be slow and often predictable. But there’s some solid suspense and if all else fails, Bava has included ample nakedness to maintain the audience’s attention. But once you’ve cleared that first hour or so, sheer chaos is unleashed and a mad spiral of deviance launches out, with bloodsoaked rage, sexual depravity, and some downright freakish happenings. The final half hour is so wild, its more than worth the slow first two-thirds of the picture, since very few flicks can pull off this kind of visceral rampage, short of a handful of sickies out there. Bernice Stegers leads a fair cast that also includes standout Veronica Zinny, who plays the young girl with immense skill. If you’re a fan of horror movies with a dash of madness, then Macabre is well worth a look, even though it takes a while for those wheels to turn into high gear.

When you’re the son of one of horror cinema’s most beloved & respected directors, the pressure must be immense to continue the tradition. And Lamberto Bava did work within the horror genre just like his father Mario, though he wouldn’t find the same level of success, but then again, who could? The younger Bava has done some solid pictures however, so when graded on his own merits, his horror efforts are pretty good. He’s had more failures than successes, but a few of his films have found cult audiences within the genre’s fanbase. In Macabre, we have his feature film debut and while slow for the first hour, Bava soon shows he can be bold and throws together a violent, oversexed, and disturbing final act that redeems the entire picture. If he could have enhanced the first hour of Macabre, it could have been an awesome movie, but even as it stands, that last half hour makes it worthwhile. Other films by Bava include A Blade in the Dark, Demons, Delirium, The Ogre, Demons 2, and The Midnight Killer. The cast here includes Bernice Stegers (Doll’s Eye, The Garden of Redemption), Stanko Molnar (The House of Raoul, Lady of the Night), Roberto Posse (Django Strikes Again, Island of the Fishmen).

Video: How does it look?

Macabre is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was quite pleased with the effort here, as the source materials look much better than expected. I’ve seen this movie only in murky, grainy transfers up until now, but Anchor Bay has tracked down a choice print and the result is an impressive treatment. The print has few defects and most of those are minor, with even grain being absent through most of the duration. The colors look excellent here, with vivid hues and no signs of error, while flesh tones are natural also. I found contrast to be more than solid as well, with only a few scenes in which black levels weren’t up to snuff. And when compared to previous versions, this one is much more refined and shows off much more detail. This is the best edition of Macabre to date and as such, I commend Anchor Bay for their work on this disc.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio here is basic, but seems to handle the material well and that’s what matters in the end. As far as sound effects and such, this movie has some potential for atmosphere, but this soundtrack never really makes much of an effort, perhaps some production limitations held back the audio’s presence. I didn’t hear any hiss or other age and budget concerns, so that means all the elements come across in clear fashion throughout. The music sounds pretty good too, while dialogue is clean and never hard to understand. So not a homerun in terms of performance, but a solid, acceptable presentation.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a brief interview with Lamberto, a talent file on the director, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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