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6 Degrees Entertainment

Mill of the Stone Women: Special Edition
(Pierre Brice, Scilla Gabel, Wolfgang Preiss, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1960) 2021 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Before Black Sabbath, before I Vampiri, director Giorgio Ferroni (The Lion of Thebes, Blood for a Silver Dollar) introduced audiences to period horror Italian-style with his chilling 1960 shocker Mill of the Stone Women – a classic tale of terror redolent with the atmosphere of vintage Hammer Horror.

Young art student Hans von Arnam (Pierre Brice, Night of the Damned) arrives by barge at an old mill to write a monograph about its celebrated sculptures of women in the throes of death and torture, maintained and curated by the mill’s owner, the hermetic Professor Wahl (Herbert Böhme, Secret of the Red Orchid).

But when Hans encounters the professor’s beautiful and mysterious daughter Elfi (Scilla Gabel, Modesty Blaise), his own fate becomes inexorably bound up with hers, and with the shocking secret that lies at the heart of the so-called Mill of the Stone Women.

The first Italian horror film to be shot in color, Mill of the Stone Women prefigured a raft of other spaghetti nightmares, including the work of maestros Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Arrow Video is proud to present this brand-new restoration of one of the foundational titles of Italian horror.

Blu-ray Verdict: Director Giorgio Ferroni’s career ended when he went deaf in 1972. Before that, he worked in many of the genres of the Italian exploitation film world, from peplum like Hercules vs. Moloch to westerns like Fort Yuma Gold and Eurospy like Secret Agent Super Dragon.

His last major directing efforts would be The Night of the Devils, which is an adaption of Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy’s The Family of the Vourdalak (which also inspired Viy and Black Sabbath) and a 1975 comedy Who Breaks ... Pays.

The first Italian film shot in color, this movie Mill of the Stone Women takes us to an island in Holland that houses a sculpture of several women created by art professor and sculptor Professor Gregorious Wahl.

Hans van Arnhim has traveled here to learn what the statues mean, but he’s also found love in the form of Wahl’s sickly daughter Elfie.

Now go with me on the plot. It turns out that the sculptor has hired a doctor to keep his daughter alive. Together, they run a secret lab where Elfie receives blood-transfusions from kidnapped female victims who posthumously become part of the stone art of the professor. So what we have here is: House of Wax + Eyes Without a Face = Mill of the Stone Women.

Still, 60’s Eurohorror is, as they say, where it’s at. There’s so much to love in this movie and I love the doomed heroine and the just as damned hero who cannot help but to remain in love with her.

This also has the interesting formula of gothic horror + science fiction + the magic of Technicolor, so there is just so much to love (especially now that Arrow Films UK have released this incredible 2-disc Blu-ray, of course).

As for the mill at the center of the piece, well to my mind it makes for an excellent location for this story to take place in. Old castles are a more common location for Gothic horror, so the fact that this one takes place in a mill again differentiates it from the norm, and is yet another example of the imagination behind the story.

The color scheme is largely quite drab, even with the addition of Technicolor, and to be honest, I’d have preferred either more striking colors or a black and white picture (as the in-between look doesn’t do the film justice, in my humble opinion).

That’s pretty much the only thing I didn’t like about this film in regards to the style and sure, the plot moves slowly, but this means that the film has time to both build and wallow in the atmosphere it creates.

One of the trademarks of Italian horror is a muddled plot and things that don’t completely make sense; and this film adheres to that! There are several threads within the plot, and a number of them are left unexplained by the conclusion. Which is a shame. Still, the final conclusion is fitting and at least it doesn’t suffer from bad dubbing! Highly recommended. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

New 2K restoration from the original negative by Arrow Films
1080p Blu-ray™ presentations of four different versions of the film: the original 96-minute Italian and English export versions, the 90-minute French version, containing exclusive footage, and the 95-minute US version, containing alternate dubbing, re-ordered scenes and added visual effects
Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Roberto Curti, an in-depth comparison of the different versions by Brad Stevens, and a selection of contemporary reviews
Fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards

DISC 1 – THE ITALIAN AND ENGLISH EXPORT VERSIONS
Restored original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
New audio commentary by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark
Mill of the Stone Women & The Gothic Body, a new visual essay on the trope of the wax/statue woman in Gothic horror by author and critic Kat Ellinger
Turned to Stone, a newly edited featurette containing archival interviews with actress Liana Orfei and film historian Fabio Melelli
A Little Chat with Dr. Mabuse, an archival interview with actor Wolfgang Preiss
Rare opening titles from the UK release, re-titled “Drops of Blood”
German opening titles
US and German theatrical trailers
Image galleries

DISC 2 – THE FRENCH AND US VERSIONS (LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE)
Restored original lossless mono French soundtrack for the French version
Restored original lossless mono English soundtrack for the US version
Newly translated English subtitles for the French soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

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