The Unliving (Retromedia) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots + Packaging Shots

The final Paul Naschy / 
Waldemar Daninsky film comes to blu-ray with a nice selection of extras.

Studio: Retromedia
Release Date: June 8th, 2004 (video premiere) / February 5th, 2024 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes 42 seconds (director's version) / 1 hour 21 minutes 43 seconds (r-rated version)
Region Code: FREE
Disc Count: 1 (BD-R 25)
Picture: 1080p (1.33:1 aspect ratio) (both versions)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (director's version) / English Dolby Digital 2.0 (r-rated version)
Subtitles: No
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Paul Naschy, John Henry Richardson, Michelle Bauer, Stephanie Bentley, Danielle Petty
Written by Fred Olen Ray
Directed by Fred Olen Ray
Rating: Not Rated (some much more 
sexuality/nudity and the same amount of some violence) (Director's Version) / R (sexuality/nudity and some violence) (R-rated Version)




What's It About?

The story begins as a TV crew makes its way to Castle Daninsky in search of a story. The Castle is rumored to possess a secret treasure hidden within its walls, but ultimately death is all they find as the eternal Countess Elizabeth Bathory seeks to sacrifice them in order to please the Lord of Darkness, bathe in their blood and revive Daninsky from his tomb.


Shot on digital video, and presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio (the back of the box says the AR is 1.66:1 but it isn't. This is true with both versions.), THE UNLIVING looks fine. This was not shot on consumer grade equipment so it doesn't look like shit. It still doesn't look the greatest but we aren't looking for that. I am just glad that Fred Olen Ray didn't upscale the video here like he did with the horrendous blu-ray of SCREAM QUEEN HOT TUB PARTY. That video looked so bad. Here, we get good colors and minimal picture problems. I didn't see any of the typical video problems like what we see on true "shot on video" movies. This is just about as accurate of a presentation as one can get. It's still video, though, so don't expect something amazing. 


Audio Commentary - Fred Olen Ray and David DeCoteau sit down for a discussion about the making of the film along with their love of all things Paul Naschy.
A Werewolf in Hollywood (23m 21s, SD, 1.33:1) This is a fly-on-the-wall type of making of. There is a scene early on where Ray's young children are playing with a fake zombie torso and head. He even asks them how they are not creeped out by this thing. He doesn't get an answer because the kids are KIDS but it is pretty cute otherwise. We see all the different aspects of the film including the creation of the werewolf mask, people hanging out and
R-rated Version (1h 21m, SD, 1.33:1) This was the version that was released on video in 2004. All of the film's many sex scenes are heavily cut with some scenes being cut in half or worse. If you don't want to watch sex scenes that go on forever then watch this version of the film. If I ever revisit The Unliving, which is highly unlikely, I would watch the R-rated version. This version is titled Tomb of the Werewolf.
Trailer (1m 29s, SD, 1.66:1) A very typical mid-2000s trailer if ever I saw one. 


I have to say that I was not expecting there to be as much sex as there is in this one. In the main version of the film, which is director Fred Olen Ray's preferred version, the sex scenes go on for a really long time. The only thing that is missing from here are some hardcore shots. That is how close these scenes are to actual porn. You guys remember the PIRATES films that porn company Digital Playground made in the mid-2000s? I worked at a Blockbuster when these things were released and I was surprised to find that they made R-rated versions of both films to get it into video stores. They wanted porn to go mainstream like it did in the early 70s. They made movies with plots and CGI. The R-rated versions cut out all of the hardcore shots and left in the rest of the sex. This is what THE UNLIVING feels like. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a hardcore version out there. I know there isn't but it still wouldn't shock me. 

This blu-ray that Retromedia has put out is much better than the film probably deserves. The picture and sound quality are fine for a movie shot on video but the special features are where it's at. There is a commentary track with Ray and David DeCoteau that is just plain fun. I love listening to these guys talk about movies and would love to hear more tracks featuring them. We get a nice little making of that gives us some insight into what everyone was thinking when they made this thing. We also get the film's R-rated version that was made for video stores. 






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