Spirits of the Dead

Spirits of the Dead

Director: Federico Fellini, Louis Malle, Roger Vadim
Cast: Jane Fonda

DVD (Wide Screen / Mono)


During the 1960s, Edgar Allan Poe became fashionable again, due largely to director/producer Roger Corman's series of Poe films starring Vincent Price, among others. Made on shoestring budgets, the films wonderfully captured the surreal mood of the original source material with evocative set designs, lush cinematography, and tongue-in-cheek performances. Yes, the films weren't always faithful to the original stories, but they sure made up for it with much imagination and style. Made at the tail end of the Corman films, Spirits of the Dead likewise captures the lunacy, bombast, and fantastical terror that have continued to make Poe's stories relevant. Split into three parts, Dead allows three distinctly different directors a chance to adapt the master scribe to the screen. The first film, Metzengerstein, is directed by Roger Vadim and stars his then-wife, Jane Fonda, and her brother, Peter. Louis Malle handles the second film, William Wilson, starring Alain Delon and the kittenish Brigitte Bardot. But it's the third of the bunch that has rightly made this anthology film so memorable: Federico Fellini's Toby Dammit starring Terence Stamp as a drunken actor who is haunted by a little girl who may or may not be Old Nick himself. Home Vision Entertainment's disc is a vast improvement over earlier video presentations of this film. Letterboxed at 1.75:1 (enhanced) and available in a French-language mono soundtrack (with clear and easy-to-read subtitles), the disc is superb looking in every way. Occasionally there are hints of some compression problems, especially during the first installment. But overall, the picture and sound are great. The only real complaint is that there isn't an optional English-language soundtrack available, since Stamp's track should really be heard with his own voice to be fully appreciated. The disc also allows you to watch each segment by itself if you feel so inclined. Nice liner notes have also been included. Definitely a worthwhile disc for your collection.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/27/2001
UPC: 0037429161227
Original Release: 1968
Rating: NR
Source: Homevision
Presentation: [Wide Screen]
Sound: [monaural]
Time: 2:01:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jane Fonda Countess Frederica
Terence Stamp Toby
Brigitte Bardot Giuseppina
Alain Delon William
James Robertson Justice Countess' Advisor [Metzengerstein]
Peter Fonda Wilhelm
Françoise Prevost Friend
Fabrizio Angeli 1st Director
Rick Boyd [Never Bet The Devil Your Head]
Katia Christina Young Girl
Ernesto Colli 2nd Director
Paul Cooper 2nd Interviewer
Umberto D'Orsi Hans
Georges Douking du Lissier [Metzengerstein]
Anny Duperey 1st Guest [Metzengerstein]
Philippe Lemaire Philippe
Carla Marlier Claude
Serge Marquand Hugues [Metzengerstein]
Polidor [Never Bet The Devil Your Head]
Salvo Randone Priest
Anne Tonietti Television Commentator
Andréas Voutsinas 2nd Guest [Metzengerstein]
Alcardo Ward 1st Interviewer
Clement Biddle Wood Narrator
Marina Yaru Child
Renzo Palmer Priest [William Wilson]
Vincent Price Narrator
Marco Stefanelli Wilson as a child
Daniele Vargas Professor

Technical Credits
Federico Fellini Director,Screenwriter
Louis Malle Director,Screenwriter
Roger Vadim Director,Screenwriter
Jean André Set Decoration/Design
Franco Arcalli Editor
Suzanne Baron Editor
Daniel Boulanger Screenwriter
Tonino Delli Colli Cinematographer
Pascal Cousin Screenwriter
Jacques Fonteray Costumes/Costume Designer
Jean Forestier Art Director
Alberto Grimaldi Producer
Carlo Leva Art Director
Diego Masson Score Composer
Ruggero Mastroianni Editor
Joseph Natamson Special Effects
Hélène Plemiannikov Editor
Jean Prodromides Score Composer
Claude Renoir Cinematographer
Nino Rota Score Composer
Giuseppe Rotunno Cinematographer
Piero Tosi Art Director,Costumes/Costume Designer
Ghislain Uhry Production Designer
Clement Biddle Wood Screenwriter
Bernardino Zapponi Screenwriter

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapters
1. Metzengerstein:Logo & Credits [:06]
2. Young Libertine [4:49]
3. The Encounter [5:07]
4. Revenge Costs [6:28]
5. Mysterious Steed [4:46]
6. Possessed [5:45]
7. Give Me Death [7:15]
8. William Wilson:Chasing Destiny [4:54]
9. He Met His Match [2:57]
10. Let's Be Perverse [5:46]
11. How About The Military [6:54]
12. Cheater [6:32]
13. Exposed [5:20]
14. One For All [6:45]
15. Toby Dammit:Star [2:26]
16. Fortune Told [:20]
17. The Interview [4:30]
18. Have Another [5:00]
19. Lion & Tiger [4:20]
20. Toby Dammit [5:59]
21. On The Run [4:44]
22. Head's Up [4:57]
23. Credits [5:03]

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Spirits of the Dead 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ChandlerSwain More than 1 year ago
"Spirits of the Dead" is an anthology of three tales adapted from the works of Edgar Allan Poe, directed by three of the most notable foreign directors of the Sixties. The first, "Metzengerstein" directed by Roger Vadim, concerns a sadistic hedonist Countess Frederica, awkwardly portrayed by then-Mrs. Vadim Jane Fonda as if she were searching for any hint of direction. Frederica torments her staff and guests until she becomes infatuated with her cousin Wilhelm (uncomfortably cast with Fonda's own brother Peter!). Tragedy ensues in the usual Poe fashion, but the minor mood piece is not a good fit for the sensualist Vadim who, instead of finding a cinematic equivalent to what is basically not a narrative driven tale, turns his segment into a ridiculous anti-erotic fashion show with Mrs. Vadim flouncing about in a different Barbarella outfit in, seemingly, every cut. The second segment improves somewhat with Louis Malle's adaptation of "William Wilson" with Alain Delon portraying the title character haunted by a doppelganger. The story unfolds smoothly but rather coldly, and in the end unravels at a tepid pace until it's obvious and telegraphed conclusion. An extended card playing sequence featuring Brigitte Bardot offers little dramatically except to prove she swallows with great distinction. Which leaves the third and by far best sequence, Fellini's "Toby Dammit" based upon the humorous story "Never Bet the Devil Your Head". Brilliantly photographed by Giuseppe Rotunno, in Fellini's vision Toby is tranformed into famous actor who is suffering an apocalyptic burnout. Arriving in Rome to star in a Western retelling the story of Christ, Toby arrives metaphorically already dead, on the edge of Hell. At the airport he sees visions of a sinister young girl (his view of the Devil) playing with a ball, a vision he has obviously seen before. The skies are lit with oranges and reds as if smoking brimstone surrounds the terminal, and Toby as played by the intensely magnetic Terence Stamp is ready for the abyss. Fellini pulls out his usual satirical jabs at television and celebrity but in this context it works brilliantly; this could be seen as the film that Fellini relinquishes, once and for all, any adherence to realistic narrative. In Dammit's world, everything is dreamlike, but it is only Fellini's wit that prevents us from experiencing that dream as an unbearable nightmare. The film features an extended car sequence (emphasizing the pristine artistry of editor Ruggero Mastroianni) that builds and builds with simultaneous unease and comic tension, finally unleashing into the logical (and improved upon) conclusion of Poe's tale. Poe's hilarity becomes Fellini's hysteria in what is ultimately, not only the sole reason to seek out this trilogy, but also one of the finest feats of filmmaking in that decade.