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Her Private Hell
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Original Her Private Hell trailer
  • Alternative, uncensored US sequences
  • Screen Tests
  • Making Her Private Hell: new documentary with cast and crew interviews
  • Incident (Norman J Warren, 1959): newly-created HD version of Warren's enigmatic first film.
  • Fragment (Norman J warren, 1966): exquisite short about a woman's unhappiness after a failed love affair
  • The Anatomy of a Pin-up (David Cohen, 1971): modish documentary about attitudes to nude modelling in Britain
  • Fully illustrated booklet with new essays by Norman J Warren, David Cohen, Lynn Barber and Josephine Botting

Her Private Hell

Dual Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Norman J. Warren
1967 | 81 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £19.99 | Series: BFI Flipside | Edition: #22
BFI Video

Release Date: February 20, 2012
Review Date: February 29, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

The cautionary tale of an innocent girl abroad who gets caught up in the sleazy world of modelling, Her Private Hell was the debut feature of British exploitation director Norman J Warren (Satan's Slave, Prey and Terror) and the UK's first narrative sex film.

Beautiful but naÔve Marisa arrives from the continent for a job as a fashion model but soon discovers she's being groomed for a different purpose. Starring Italian actress Lucia Modugno (Il Generale della Rovere, Diabolik), the film ran for over a year in London and put Britain on the map in the realm of home grown adult features.


PICTURE

Norman J. Warrenís Her Private Hell comes to Blu-ray as part of BFIís Flipside series in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on a dual-layer disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz. This is a UK release but the disc is region free and should be able to playback on all Blu-ray players; I did not have an issue playing it on my North American PS3.

The image is a mixed bag and part of it has to do with the fact that the materials have not aged at all well, the film has been cut to pieces, and that BFI, in its quest to deliver the most complete version in the best possible way, has gone to multiple sources. The materials are in very rough shape and scratches and marks are always there in some form or another. Most of the film presents a minimal amount and in plenty of cases none at all, but there are moments, I suspect where the start or end of a reel has been reached, where the damage gets very heavy, with dirt and scratches raining through, marring the image. Thereís also plenty of splices present, frame jumps, and missing frames, a surprising number of missing frames actually. I suspect the damage was just too much in these cases and BFI has done what they could.

As to the digitial transfer, as is always the case for BFI, it looks superb overall. Though the primary print used has its issues the transfer itself is very sharp, with an extraordinary amount of detail. Mostly. As mentioned before BFI went to multiple sources to get the most complete version of the film they could as the print they worked with was heavily edited. To fill in some of the gaps they had to go to US distributor Something Weird and use segments from their DVD release of the film, which had some of the missing elements. Unfortunately what happens here is when we cut to a bit that has been taken from the DVD the image goes soft and murky, and it looks as though BFI may have scrubbed the image a bit to clean up any compression noise that would be obvious when the standard definition transfer was upscaled.

These moments are not too frequent and are usually quick, except maybe for a sex scene that goes on for a considerable amount of time. In most cases itís usually a quick cut though there are moments where they are inserted into a continuous scene. In one early scene Lucia Modugno gets out of bed, topless, and stands. She begins to turn and right when weíre about to get a pretty clear frontal shot the image quality degrades severely as we go to what is obviously footage from the DVD (I can only guess someone objected to the nudity and cut these frames out of the print the BFI has.) Once she turns back around we go back to the higher quality high-definition transfer. Stuff like this is where itís most noticeable, as not only does the image quality lessen but the frame rate seems to change as well, and in a continuous shot itís very noticeable. Though most of this occurs during sequences with nudity there are also some cut-aways that actually make no sense as to why they would have been chopped out since nothing offensive happens in them.

Itís rough but Iím still very happy with what BFI has done in their effort to give us the most complete version of the film and am happy they went this route instead of just giving us what would have been an even heavier edit of the film.

6/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Scene was taken from DVD edition

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AUDIO

We get a lossless PCM 1.0 mono track and it is what it is, a victim of its age and fairly poor source materials. I found it a bit edgy and weak, and there are a number of audio drops and pops. Sequences that appear to come from the DVD also sound a bit weaker. Rough but Iím sure all that could be done was done and this is likely the best weíll ever get.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Though the audio and video presentations may not be what we usually get from BFI (and again, theyíve done their best with what theyíve had) this edition actually sports one of the more impressive collection of supplements Iíve seen from them.

First up is the filmís original theatrical trailer, which is surprisingly dry, followed by alternative US sequences for the photo shoot with Matt and the party sequence, both which have more nudity present (the nudity in these sequences sound to have been specifically shot for the U.S. release.) Together they run about 3-minutes. We then get less than 3-minutesí worth of silent screen tests featuring a young Udo Kier trying out for the role of Matt, with the booklet explaining why he ultimately was not cast.

Next we get what could be classified as a ďmaking-ofĒ called Inside Her Private Hell, which gathers 15-minutes worth of interviews with writer Glynn Christian, actresses Jeannette Wild and Pearl Catlin, and director Norman J. Warren. Warren gets the most screen time, talking about the limitations getting the film made (even explaining the reason why everyone seems to be sneaking in and out of the set doors,) the filmís nudity, and its release. Everyone else talks about how they became involved and their reactions to it when it was released. With some amusing anecdotes and a fairly loose tone itís an interesting piece worth viewing.

Incident is a 13-minute short film directed by Norman J. Warren. According to the notes in the booklet the film, simply about a young couple at a fair, was pretty much made over a period of 48 years. The footage looks to have been shot back in 1959 and then the editing was finished around 2007. The audio sounds to be newly recorded so it doesnít seem to mesh completely with the footage. Itís nothing overly exciting and looks to be Warren more or less testing his filmmaking skills and learning. As to why it took so long itís has more to do with Warren and his collaborators going their separate ways and deciding to finish the film much, much later when they got together again.

Fragment is an 11-minute short film from Warren, made in 1966, and was his first theatrical release. With only a Jazz score and no dialogue the film is mostly a womanís flashback of a relationship that has just ended and then the bitterness and loneliness that follows. With this and Incident you see a far more artier, experimental side to Warren in comparison to the exploitive nature of Her Private Hell and itís interesting seeing him go to direct that after these films.

The Anatomy of a Pin-up is a 31-minute documentary from 1971 made by David Cohen. The piece is about Penthouse magazine and gathers together interviews primarily with the various models that have posed and then also gathers a few employees and photographers. Thereís also some thoughts about the magazine, and nude modeling in general, from various other people, including feminists and the ďman in the streetĒ (and even some random kid.) Itís obviously an exploitive piece, made to titillate, which packs in as much nudity as it possibly can under the guise that itís trying to be informative. Yet amazingly I actually learned something about the industry through the voice overs that speak over images of breasts, breasts, and more breasts. Notes in the booklet mention that the fact it is informative is how it probably got away with all of the nudity. It makes for a great companion piece to the film as itís another film from that exploitive period and more or less contains the same subject matter: models and sex.

BFI then includes one of their great booklets and opens with an essay by Josephine Botting followed by a reflection on the film by David McGillivray, who obviously didnít care much for it but does put the film into context. Adrian Smith then provides a short piece about the censorship the film experienced and the edits made to it. An excerpt from Lucia Modugnoís autobiography has the actress recall doing the nude scenes in the film which is then followed by a brief bio about director Norman J. Warren. We then get notes and essays for all of the supplements found on the release.

Overall an interesting collection of material that turns out to be better than the film. They give a great look at Warren and his career and also offers an interesting look at the exploitive film industry at the time.

7/10

CLOSING

Limited by the materials this is certainly not the best looking release from BFI but they did what they could and in the end I still think theyíve done a spectacular job with what they had. Theyíve also put together some great supplements to accompany the film. For those that enjoy the film, or at least the Flipside line in general, which is one of the more fun series Iíve come across, this comes highly recommended.




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