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Writings > DVD Image Comparisons > Four Flies on Grey Velvet


Four Flies on Grey Velvet

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I've decided to do things slightly differently for this comparison. Given that there is yet to be an authorised release of Four Flies on Grey Velvet on DVD, several copies are floating around, with various bootleggers repackaging the same versions and putting them out under their own labels. As such, this is less a comparison between specific releases and more one between the various different "editions" that are floating about.

Until recently, it was generally accepted that there were three major versions doing the rounds:

1. A truncated English language version, presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This release is very dark and, during the climax, it becomes virtually impossible to see what is happening. I refer to this as the OAR English version.
2. A composite version, taken from a French print with English audio overlaid in most instances. This release is cropped to approximately 1.85:1 and is much brighter, but with the whites blown out. This version carries a Luminous Film & Video Works watermark during the opening credits, so I refer to this as the Luminous version.
3. An English language version cropped to 1.33:1. This verion supposedly features the best quality out of these three releases, but, as I haven't seen it for myself, I can't comment.

A fourth version, a Region 0 PAL DVD, surfaced in December 2007 from German label Retrofilm. The first release of the film to be taken from a film source rather than an nth generation video copy, there was initially some speculation that this was a legitimate release, but, although there have been arguments on both sides of the fence, it does at this point seem that Retrofilm's copy is unauthorised. It is, however, quite clearly the best available version by some considerable margin, as you will be able to see from the screen captures below.

For the most part, Retrofilm's release uses a rather scratched-up English language print as its source material, with speckles, scratches and tramlines are visible for the duration of its running time. The colours and black level are also inconsistent, with several scenes looking overly pink and the overall saturation level seeming too high most of the time. Additionally, given that the English language print is a few minutes shorter than its Italian counterpart, some material has been spliced in from a VHS source, and at these points the quality is much poorer than the rest of the film (although still an improvement on the other two bootlegs compared here). A handful of other minor flaws, including the title card being misplaced (it appears at the very start of the film here, rather than in its proper place after Michael Brandon, Mimsy Farmer and Jean-Pierre Marielle's names have been displayed), and the occasional instance of the entire frame floating slightly too high or low, resulting in the top or bottom of the next frame being visible, show that this is release is very much rough around the edges.

The quality obviously falls short of the standards set by major publishers, but considering the previous treatment of this film, it seems like a revelation, and in terms of clarity actually compares quite favourably to some giallo transfers put out by reputable firms. Someone quite aptly described this as an Argento grindhouse experience, and, provided you go into it with this in mind, you are unlikely to be disappointed.

 

Screen Captures

Example 1

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 2

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 3

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 4

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 5

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 6

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 7

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 8

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 9

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 10

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 11

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison

 

Example 12

Mouse over to switch between versions:
OAR English | Luminous | Retrofilm

DVD Image Comparison