Saturday, April 14, 2012

La muerte incierta Demands DVD Release

It seems that most significant (and a great many minor) horror films have by now been released on DVD. Even more titles are available on VHS, if only as used copies. Yet a few stragglers remain. Horror films that one has read of, but never seen.

Some of these lost films may be found on bootleg or file-sharing sites, or even on Ebay. Apparently, a loophole in copyright law allows an out-of-print film to be copied and sold. (At least that's what one seller told me.)

But one horror film that remains elusive, though I've sought it since the 1990s, is La muerte incierta. (You can see its trailer, below.)





This Spanish film was released in 1973. The Internet Movie Database says that it also has an Italian title: La morte incerta. But the IMDb lists no English title. Perhaps the film was never released in an English-speaking country?

My favorite online translator translates the Spanish tile as The Uncertain Death, the Italian title as Death Uncertain.

Certainly, La muerte incierta is an obscurity. I've never met a horror fan who's ever heard of it, though it's been talked about online. As best I know, the film was never released on home video in any format. It might not ever have had an American theatrical release.

Even so, La muerte incierta is not without a respectable pedigree. The film was directed by José Ramón Larraz, who is perhaps best known to horror fans for Vampyres (1975). It also features actress Rosalba Neri (The Devil's Wedding Night).


But I'm most interested in La muerte incierta because it features my favorite obscure British horror actress: Mary Maude.

Maude may be best known to horror fans for her role as the sadistic schoolgirl in
The House That Screamed (aka, La residencia). Maude told Filmfax No. 75-76 that she considers her work in the film only half a performance, because her voice was dubbed by another English actress. Maude was working on another project at the time of dubbing, and thus was unavailable.

Maude's only other starring role in a horror film was in the oddball Crucible of Terror, though she also had a bit part in Terror (British 1978).

As you can see, Maude's body of work in horror is small. Which makes me all the more curious to see La muerte incierta.

Considering that La muerte incierta involves José Ramón Larraz, Rosalba Neri, and Mary Maude, I think there's a decent-sized market for it, should any DVD distributor be paying attention.

Of course, there's always the grim possibility that the film is truly lost. All copies trashed or burned or destroyed beyond repair. All that remains are some posters and lobby cards, and a trailer. Hints of what might once have been.

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For more about obscure, "must see" horror films, see Horror Film Aesthetics: Creating the Visual Language of Fear. This blog represents a continuing discussion of my views on horror, picking up from where the book left off.

5 comments:

  1. I actually believe that despite many ones have been released, even without specific poignant reasons, there are however a still good number of flix,that haven't, believe it or not!
    La muerte incerta is one of those!Can assure u that,like many others, that one was never released or previously seen or just even screened, East or West,in the United States (our Country!).
    But,also know there used to be a copy in Italy,since used to live there in the late 1970's&throughout1980's, often knew of that movie being shown by some minor networks,late at night!It did barely have a release in Italy,it seems,also according to Rosalba.
    But,did ok in Spain, and, later, in Northern European Countries,even in Greece&Turkey, I guess,between 1974/1975.
    Most of those movies had however more of a real follow,since life was so slow back then,obviously did not have internet or DVD/Blue Ray's,not even a real VHS Market,until 1984/1985!
    So,they had many decrepit,at times even filthy&gigantic theaters,where they'd play those movies for even long weeks,sometime, doing excellent business:prices were a half of a normal Cinema,especially during the weekends, many low to middle class folks,lots of guys,of course, especially, guys in training for the Army,used to be regulars,for the well known double show,sometime, just 2 movies,with a pause (given to socialize lol) in the middle,at times, i remember was told seemed to be never ending!The idea or winning formula,if you'd rather,was to give to all people,younger or middle age married bored couples,but, lots of dudes,mainly,the chance to spend a late afternoon/evening,during the Fall/Winter,or Summer even, just for half the price of 1 regular movie, while,vaguely always suggesting the possibility of some unexpected encounter or,at least,to get to watch a movie with few acquaintances,while exchanging conversation,gossip,lurid subjects similar to those told in the movies being shown,juvenile comments,laughing, and,for the more fortunate.. fellatio!No,ain't kidding!Maybe you know this,but,if you don't,u may actually see it happening as a form of rather regular weekend's "activity",in one of the most mainstream Giallo's ever produced,the splendid "The Sunday Woman"directed by famed Luigi Comencini in 1975,starring Jacqueline Bissett,Marcello Mastroianni,a great Jean Louis Trintignant,also, with a superb cast of exceptional supporting actors!Not saying the movies(and, at times,even a little,amateurish vaudeville show)did not matter!At the contrary: for many the shows were more than sufficient@the time,to spend a sunday filled with laughs, a little kink, while,it would be as hypocrite as they then behaved,saying there was no hope for some sort of sexual encounter,too!
    Morals were absolutely against this type of behavior,but,then,even the same police didn't certainly look for lewd conduct cases:they were the first ones to know,when off,of course,they'd go,as well!
    Sorry if carried away from La Muerte Incerta, but,couldn't right now, don't even know why,maybe,cause that type of bigot behaviors saddened me,not tell about those famous,very busy theaters, whose profits were of course at the foundations of then still extremely very profitable Genre films industry in Italy,but,in Spain,France,Germany,Denmark,Holland, even in the UK!
    Sort of have mixed feelings about them,actually!By the time I was a teen ager, so able to go myself,with a couple of older buds, were almost in the mid 80's, morals were strict, but,not as strict as those of the 1970's +the new VHS market,was beginning to doom those great silver screens,,in fact for me, most positive thing was actually audiences of very diverse upbringings were actually mixing,still watching movies on wide screens,made like movies that had to be shown on panoramic screens,if u know what i mean:that was more like the real thing to me! The movies!

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  2. Hello! just want to say that the movie is not lost. I have a copy (in Spanish) that I downloaded from the Internet and I will watch tonight.

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  3. I have a widescreen copy of it in Spanish with English subtitles. The print has some scratches and is far from perfect but very watchable. For more information, email mariobavafan@yahoo.com

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  4. Hi, I'm preparing an article on Larraz for Weng's Chop magazine, and I was just wondering where you got the ad art used in the above post. If you own copies, I'd love to inquire about getting scans of them for the article. Thanks!

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  5. I found all that art -- poster and lobby cards -- on the internet, as jpegs. I do also own those lobby cards, on paper, which I bought on Ebay. However, I don't own a scanner, so I can't scan them.

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