Blu-Ray Review: Death Smiles on a Murderer (Arrow Video)

by robotGEEK

Much like Jesse Franco, Joe D'Amato was a highly prolific filmmaker spanning several decades, with nearly 200 credits to his name as a director, nearly 200 as a cinematographer, and nearly 50 as a screenwriter.....that we know of. The truth is, he used so many pseudonyms that we may never really know how many films he actually made and in what capacity, but what we do know is that D'Amato (real name Aristide Massaccesi) loved making films and worked relentlessly at a breakneck pace, sometimes directing up to 25 films a year. D'Amato dove into nearly every genre, sometimes even mixing them all together, but found his biggest success and cult status within the Italian Trash/Post Apocalyptic and horror genre's. While a lot of people would associate D'Amato with his erotic films, he would always find a way to infuse a lot of that in most of his other films, no matter the subject matter or genre. 

Released in 1973, Death Smiles on a Murderer would mark his first entry in the horror genre, and did so with style and pizzazz. A hybrid of different themes and genre's, making it a mixture of eroticism, Gothic, horror, giallo, and thriller, Death Smiles on a Murderer honestly doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but is such a treat visually to look at and admire. A nearly incomprehensible smorgasbord of different storylines that make it hard to follow, DSonM is able to rise above those pesky little issues by being a surprisingly well-made film, with some impressive eye candy, and an effective mixture of different genre's thrown together in a dream-like world.

Just The Disc:


  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original Italian and English soundtracks
  • Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio
  • 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 writer and critic Tim Lucas
  • D’Amato Smiles on Death, an archival interview in which the director discusses the film
  • All About Ewa, a newly-filmed, career-spanning interview with the Swedish star
  • Smiling on the Taboo: Sex, Death and Transgression in the horror films of Joe D’Amato, new video essay by critic Kat Ellinger
  • Original trailers
  • Stills and collections gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

Arrow's new Blu Ray release of Joe D'Amato's first horror film comes in an excellent new 2K restoration from the original camera negative. The Gothic setting is captured gloriously in it's new 1080p transfer. The film comes in both an English language dubbed version as well as it's original Italian language version. For those of you who enjoy it's original language, there are English subtitles included as well. 

The extra's included are fun to dig through as well, with the "D'Amato Smiles on Death" interview being pretty fun as he discusses his career and experiences making this landmark film. I swear he looks like Robert DeNiro to me. The new interview "All About Ewa" where we get to sit down with the films gorgeously stunning Swedish lead Ewa Aulin is just as engaging and informative as she discusses her entire career and how she began as a model. Kat Ellinger's video essay "Smiling on the Taboo: Sex, Death and Transgression in the horror films of Joe D'Amato" is probably the most impressive and rewarding in the bunch, where she goes through his entire career and I have to tell you, it's easily the most informative out of anything I've ever seen regarding D'Amato.

Joe D'Amato's Death Smiles on a Murderer is available now from any number of online retailers, as well as directly through Arrow's official website HERE.

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