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Quick Review: Belladonna of Sadness

April and May have blessed us with the release of several excellent films from Fantastic Fest 2015, including Too Late, Green Room, The Invitation, and Men and Chicken. I’m very excited to add Belladonna of Sadness to the list. (On Friday the 13th no less — how appropriate!) Check out my quick review from FF:

Belladonna of Sadness
Director- Eiichi Yamamoto
Cast- Tatsuya Nakadai, Aiko Nagayama, Chinatsu Nakayama, and Masaya Takahashi

Seeing Belladonna of Sadness on the big screen is one of those experiences you come away from feeling lucky. It’s a dark and beautiful Japanese animated film with killer visuals and jammin’ music. It mixes still watercolor paintings and drawings, with animation and voice-over narration, and the result is like someone is reading you an exceptionally well-illustrated story while you hallucinate on mushrooms. It features themes of eroticism, explicit sexuality, and witchcraft.

Upon its release in 1973, Belladonna was a commercial failure. It didn’t receive a US release and was never seen by a wide audience. The weird imagery is a cult favorite amongst musicians seeking trippy visuals to accompany their music. Clips are available on youtube, but they’re low-quality. The movie was recently given a beautiful 4K restoration by Cinelicious, a Los Angeles-based post-production company. Their distribution company, Cinelicious Pics, is co-presenting the re-release along with The Cinefamily and Spectrevision. Cinelicious founder and CEO Paul Korver, and Hadrian Love, co-founder and Creative Director of The Cinefamily, were on hand to present the film and talk about the restoration.

Belladonna of Sadness is getting a limited release in theaters and the Blu-ray will be available for purchase on July 12th. Do not miss your chance to see it on the big screen. The movie is enchanting and it immediately joins the ranks of my favorite animated films. Those who attended the FF screening were given nifty enamel pins. (Best pins of the fest!)

5 out of 5 Nerdskulls

Belladonna of Sadness is now playing in Houston at Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park. It opens today in Los Angeles, Austin, Denver, Providence, Tuscon, and Boston. Check here for theaters and more cities/opening dates.

Also, check out the Cinelicious Belladonna of Sadness tumblr page . It’s full of beautiful stills and info about the restoration. The new scan is a vast improvement and really brings out the colors.

Red Band Trailer:

A few of the pics are *NSFW* (click to enlarge)

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Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.