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Death Laid An Egg Main

Death Laid an Egg Special Edition Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Cult Epics

Death Laid An Egg Large

Directed by Giulio Questi
Written by Franco Arcalli and Giulio Questi
1968, 105 minutes, Not Rated
Released on November 10th, 2020

Starring:
Gina Lollobrigida as Anna
Jean-Louis Trintignant as Marco
Ewa Aulin as Gabrielle
Jean Sobieski as Mondaini
Renato Romano as Luigi

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Review:

Marco and Anna own a high-tech poultry farm that has recently become fully automated, leaving workers laid off and angry. They are wealthy, self-absorbed and adore their live-in secretary, Anna’s beautiful cousin Gabrielle. Marco is having an affair with her and they plan to get rid of Anna and run away together. Marco has a secret regarding violent encounters with prostitutes at a motel and may have a history of mental problems. He is under pressure at work from the board of directors to maximize profits and they bring in a successful ad man named Mondaini to champion a new campaign. The scientists at the lab study embryo modification and create mutant chickens without heads and wings to exaggerate the meatier parts but Marco is revolted.

A series of accidents at the facility have Anna on edge and Marco tries to reassure her despite his own suspicions of sabotage. They feel their spirits will be lifted by hosting a large party filled with booze and games. It is here Marco catches the idea that Gabrielle may have a few secrets of her own. He grows paranoid that he is being watched and hears voices in the night coming from somewhere in the facility. Adding to Marco’s stress is the return of an old friend who has recently been released from a mental hospital suffering memory loss and looking for assistance. Marco’s life is turned upside down when he wakes in the motel next to a dead body and he is forced into action.

Death Laid an Egg (aka Plucked!) is an odd film with a plot presented in a fractured non-linear narrative that feels at times like something out of a fever dream. There are elements of danger, murder and madness but not everything is as it seems. The material is compelling and comes to a sufficiently dark conclusion presented in a manner that encourages repeat viewing to connect all of the dots. Its distinct visual style marks it as a product of the late 1960s and is frequently labeled by film historians as a proto-giallo. Many Italian movies of this era are given that moniker, but whether this picture fits into that subgenre – the ending notwithstanding – is doubtful.

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Director Giulio Questi (Django Kill… If You Love, Shoot!) sustains audience attention to his fractured fable by maintaining a brisk pace. Working from a script he co-wrote with Franco Arcalli (Once Upon a Time in America), he keeps all of the puzzle pieces in play, revealing clues at his own discretion. First-time viewers may feel frustrated with the storytelling approach, but are ultimately rewarded for their patience. Arcalli also serves as the film’s editor, building uncomfortable tension-filled sequences depicting Marco’s growing predicament. The cinematography by Dario Di Palma (Blonde in Black Leather) is striking and immersive. The most effective element keeping audiences off balance is the atonal music score by Bruno Maderna (The Temptress), which is aggressive and jarring and frequently bizarre.

The cast is headlined by Gina Lollobrigida (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1958), who was lauded in the press at the time as “the most beautiful woman in the world”. Her portrayal of Anna is self-assured and self-absorbed, but never in doubt about what she wants. Jean-Louis Trintignant (Three Colors: Red) stars as Marco, the troubled figure at the heart of the conflict. He is cool and collected at the office but, his personal life is a shambles and the actor balances the two effortlessly. The breathtaking Ewa Aulin (Death Smiles on a Murderer) co-stars as the not-so-innocent vixen Gabrielle, and the camera loves her. These three characters are tightly woven at the heart of this story and the actors shine in their craft.

Death Laid an Egg is challenging, but holds up well to repeat viewing. The film underwent drastic editing before being released internationally, removing fifteen minutes of footage, including one character and his subplot completely. The excised material doesn’t add much but it does advance the potential question of Marco’s sanity. Both versions are included on this release and I recommend the extended cut.

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Video and Audio:

This title has received numerous international releases with mixed results. Cult Epics first offered this film on Blu-ray in 2017 with rather disappointing video quality. Three years later, they have redeemed themselves with a gorgeous new 2K scan and restoration of the original camera negative that is a smashing success. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this transfer is sharper and more colorful than any previous release.

A LPCM 2.0 mono English dub and the original Italian track are offered and both are satisfying. The soundtrack is alive with activity and will stick with you when it’s over. When viewing the Director’s Cut in English, the restored scenes play in Italian with English subtitles.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

Both the original Director’s Cut (105 minutes) and the edited international version (91 minutes) are included.

The Director’s Cut features an audio commentary with film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson in which the production history is analyzed and given context. They discuss the history of the giallo and where this film fits. Additional topics include a look at the director’s filmography and notes on the cast members and the film’s soundtrack and studio forced edits.

Giulio Questi: The Outsider (2010, 13 minutes) is an archival interview with the director in which he reflects on the Italian film industry of the 1960s and ‘70s, and then focuses on the history of this film’s production. This segment is in Italian with English subtitles.

Italian film critic Antonio Bruschini reviews the movie in a short video appreciation (6 minutes). This segment is in Italian with English subtitles.

Questi’s entertaining short film Doctor Schizo and Mister Phrenic (2002, 15 minutes) is a nice addition for fans of the director’s work.

There are two trailers included, one in English and the other in Italian with English subtitles.

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Grades:

Movie: Twoandahalfstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourstars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Threestars
Overall: 3.5 Star Rating

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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