4K UHD Review: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

July 30, 2021

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Slammin’ Sammy (Tony Musante) is one of those American “writer” types… he’s also completely devoid of the creative spark, so he’s parked his ass down ol’ Italia way in the hopes that a change of scenery will give his juices a jolt!
Speaking of “jolting” things, our man Sam gets a real eyeful when he spies the ol’ murder biz goin’ down in a fancy-ass art gallery (really, there are seldom any other kind), but the victim, one Monica Ranieri (Eva Renzi), turns the tables on her faceless assailant who flees into the night (but not before being a real prize-winning dickus to ol’ Sam and Mony-Mony via some electronic doors and slow torture).
Enter: Inspector Morosini (Enrico Maria Salerno) who gives our man Sam-I-Am some static, as he holds the writer in Rome in the hopes he will help crack the case with the absolute unending terror he witnessed and all… but the killer at large is more than willing to make sure Sam never opens his yapper ever again!
Ya know cats n’ creeps, some mother fuckers come roarin’ right out the gate and do something so strong that they impress the hell out of you with their first go, and Dario Argento presents the perfect example of this with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage!
Laden with style (even simple conversations are presented at dramatic angles that make them anything but the info dumps they are at their core), aesthetic panache (everything from complete control of color and composition, to full on tried and true Gothic classic tropes such as thick fog and deep shadows), and some good ol’ social commentary (in particular the concepts of emasculation mostly conveyed via helplessness in the moment of danger).
This is one hell of a well-polished debut that manages to be absolutely lavish while offering up sparseness that manages to emphasize unease and isolation to ultimate effect… it’s  a delicate balancing act and shows a true artists’ eye in it’s execution.
Did I mention the excellent score courtesy of maestro Ennio Morricone?
Speaking of excellence, our putrid pals at Arrow Video (along with MVD Entertainment) have slapped a truly staggering amount of bonus material on this 4k Ultra release!
First up comes an ultra informative commentary courtesy of author Troy Howarth who covers the film’s history from inception to legacy in detail, followed by another great examination of the film’s significance, themes, and it’s prose origins!
After that comes a visual essay courtesy of author Alexandra Heller-Nichols which focuses on the roles of perception and art in Argento’s works, as well as archival interviews with Argento, actor Gildo Di Marco, and actress Eva Renzi.
Bringing up the rear we get three trailers for the picture, and six promotional image galleries.
Adding to the value of this package you also get an illustrated collector’s booklet, a fold-out double-sided poster featuring new artwork by Obviously Creative, six double-sided, postcard-sized, lobby card reproduction cards, and a limited edition reversible sleeve!
Argento brings his A-game to this fine specimen of giallo goodness, and I guarantee that if you’ve never laid putrid peepers on The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, or are already a fan this is the version you should grab!

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