I recently recorded my first Jess Franco audio commentary for the German company Subkultur Entertainment, for their release of DAS GEHEIMNIS DES DOKTOR Z (THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z, 1965), which has just come out. Because the commentary was pre-scripted and required me to pronounce a number of French and Spanish names and titles whose pronunciations did not always come naturally to me, I found it difficult to handle all this while also keeping an eye on the scenes as they unreeled. Therefore, I opted to record my commentary, which is generally scene-specific, in bits and pieces (about 50 of them), which I then sent to Subkultur to synchronize with the image track. I was nervous about the outcome, since it was out of my hands, but I saw the result last night for the first time and couldn't be more pleased. I think it may be the finest audio commentary I've recorded to date, and I am not the sort of person to boast about such things. Suffice to say, I did my best and the folks at SE did a splendid job with it. (Tino at Subkultur told me the entire release required 1,176 hours of work to complete -- seven straight weeks -- but he agrees it is "the toughest but best product of Subkultur." The company acquired the exclusive rights to my commentary through 2017, so it won't be appearing on other releases issued closer to home in the meantime.
The two-disc set (limited to only 1000 units) looks splendid, but for territorial licensing reasons, the English dub included with Mondo Macabro's earlier release could not be used. The film's soundtrack is offered only in French and German, with my "audiokommentar" provided (on Disc 2) in English with German subtitles. As an added incentive to purchase, the second disc also includes a 4m introduction by Franco and actor Antonio Mayans, spoken in English, and a Franco filmography containing Easter Eggs of more than 30 Franco trailers!
So where can you find this item before its short supply is exhausted? There is an Amazon.de page, but they will not ship to America. As of today, the best sources appear to be Amazon.es or DTM. However, there is now the possibility that we at VIDEO WATCHDOG may be able to acquire a set number of copies for sale through our website. Stay tuned for more info.
Another exciting new Subkultur release is Tulio Demichelli's DRACULA JAGT FRANKENSTEIN (1969), the Paul Naschy monster rally known here as ASSIGNMENT: TERROR or DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN, released for the first time in its original aspect ratio. Also in the cast are Michael Rennie, Karin Dor, Patty Shepard, Fernando Bilbao (as the Farancksalan Monster -- yes, this movie really ought to be called "Dracula jagt Farancksalan") and Walter Barnes.
I also watched this last night and was very happy, after 40 years, to finally see its full scope image. The transfer is often on the dark side, but seeing that the rare glimpses of the sky are still blue and so bright as to threaten to bloom white if pushed further, I'm sure the SE disc producers did all that was possible to remain faithful to, and remain within the boundaries of, the source element, which is otherwise very colorful and very clean. The audio offers only the German track but there are English subtitles -- a direct translation of the German dialogue, not of the English dub track, though the English version followed the original dialogue fairly closely. The musical soundtrack is presented with more presence than it's ever had. The disc is in PAL and region free, and you may find it still in stock at Diabolik DVD here in the States.
Here are some frame grabs to tease and tantalize you (click to enlarge):