Release Date(s)1976 (April 6, 2021)
Studio(s)Taurus Film/G.D. Films (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: D-
- Video Grade: C-
- Audio Grade: D+
- Extras Grade: C-
After years of working in TV, independent filmmaker Nico Mastorakis finally transitioned to the big screen, making his first film under the guidance of a pornography producer. Death Has Blue Eyes (AKA To koritsi vomva, The Girl Is a Bomb) established him as a writer and director who could get things done on small budgets. Despite its giallo-ish title and a heaping helping of sensuality and nudity, it’s far from a mystery thriller or a horror film. Instead, it’s a jumbled mix of eroticism, espionage, science fiction, and action. None of it ever coalesces, making it both chaotic and tedious at the same time, as odd as that sounds. Frequent cuts, a lack of focus, and an impenetrable narrative make it a tough sit, though not for lack of trying. It has elements that could be effective had they been put together with any kind of rhythm or pace. Instead, it introduces character after character while frolicking and meandering through its story, which never comes together until the final minutes. Nico Mastorakis would certainly go on to make much more penetrable and enjoyable genre fare, but despite its cult appeal, Death Has Blue Eyes just doesn’t work.
Peter (Robert Kowalski) is newly-arrived to Greece, meeting his close friend Ches (Hristos Nomikos) at the airport. The two men wind up in a number of compromising situations, usually due to their penchant for sleeping with the opposite sex. One day at dinner, they meet Geraldine (Jessica Dublin) and Christine (Maria Aliferi), who turn out to be deadly psychics with an incredible bond. Peter and Ches are subsequently hired to protect them from a group of gangsters who want them dead, but unbeknownst to them, Geraldine and Christine have plans of their own.
Arrow Video, who has released most of Nico Mastorakis’ catalogue of films, brings Death Has Blue Eyes to Blu-ray with a new 2K restoration from the original 35 mm camera negative, which was performed entirely by Mastorakis himself. Two versions are presented: the original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical version and an optional 1.33:1 full screen version. Both are unfortunately inconsistent, top to bottom. While there’s great clarity at times thanks to the depth of the initial scan, as well as a bright, lush color palette, it’s mostly smeared and waxy with a heavy dose of digital noise removal and doesn’t appear natural in motion at all. It also suffers from contrast issues and leftover damage. An attempt to repair it is evident, but it stands out even more because of it. Blacks are either crushed or too bright, and minor instability creeps in from time to time. It’s too bad because the original scan with a bit of color correction and mild clean-up would have provided a more than adequate presentation. As such, it’s a disappointment. It’s worth noting that the running time is a little over 80 minutes, and since the film has been released several times in its life with a variety of running times, it’s unclear just which cut of the film this is. Judging by the newly-rendered and unmotivated dip to black at around the 01:18:04 mark, it’s likely that this is Mastorakis’ new and preferred version of the film.
The audio is provided in English 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. The English overdubbing is loose against the picture, rather obviously. Like the video portion, it also suffers from inconsistency. The film was originally released in mono, and this track appears to be an attempt to make a stereo presentation out of it. It’s far from narrow as it travels from the left and right speakers unnaturally, dropping and rising in quality, especially when it comes to hiss, crackle, and distortion. A dropout at 0:19:06, presumably from a reel change, also sticks out. The dialogue is clear and fairly uniform in volume, regardless of which speaker it springs forth from, but the overall track is a mess.
The following extras are also included, all in HD:
- An Interview with Maria Fliferi (17:49)
- Nico Mastorakis (In His Own Words) (24:43)
- Dancing with Death (42:03)
- Theatrical Trailer (2:25)
- Extended Theatrical Trailer (3:32)
- Image Gallery (25 in all – 4:10)
In the interview with actress Maria Fliferi, she talks about becoming an actress, working with Nico Mastorakis, being thrilled with getting the part, where she was in her career at the time, the reaction to the film from the press, her memories of working on the film, the difficulty of filming in cold water, the subject matter, an affair on the set, working with the other actors, the thought of having real psychic abilities, and her thoughts on the film today. Before the Nico Mastorakis interview begins, there’s a very thoughtful 80th birthday surprise to the director from his family and the Arrow Video crew. The interview continues thereafter. He discusses his life and career before Death Has Blue Eyes, the producer’s pornographic background, working with Maria Fliferi, doing stunts without stuntmen, shooting in unusual locations, making a film that was uncharacteristic of Greek films at that time, overdubbing, the music of the film, and his reflections on the film. Dancing with Death offers 14 tracks of song and score from the film set to stills. The rest of the extras consist of two trailers for the film and an image gallery containing 25 stills of promotional photos, press materials, posters, and home video artwork. Also included is a 20-page insert booklet featuring cast and crew information, Nico Mastorakis: The Greek Tycoon by Julian Grainger, and transfer information. Everything comes housed in a clear amaray case with double-sided artwork, the original UK poster on one side and new artwork by Graham Humphreys on the other.
Rarely do we come across a disc of this sort, particularly from a company known for its high quality presentations and extras. Death Has Blue Eyes has potential, but the audio and video leave much to be desired. And the extras, while produced with care and love behind them, aren’t all that intriguing. As such, we can’t recommend this one.
- Tim Salmons