Shock Treatment (1973) (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Nov 18, 2020
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Shock Treatment (1973) (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Alain Jessua

Release Date(s)

1973 (October 27, 2020)

Studio(s)

A.J. Films/Belstar Productions/Lira Films/Medusa Distribuzione (Severin Films)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: C

Shock Treatment (Blu-ray Disc)

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Review

Causing a stir in 1973 due to the level of nudity from its cast, Shock Treatment (AKA Doctor in the Nude) is a horror drama in the vein of Parts: The Clonus Horror, but in a more sophisticated manor. Helmed by Alain Jessua (Life Upside Down, The Dogs), it has garnered a certain kind of reputation over the years. Not for the level of violence or gore (of which there is little), but due to all of the naked French actor flesh on display, specifically Alain Delon and Annie Girardot, both of whom are fully nude in a beach scene romp that must be seen to be believed.

The story concerns the troubled Helene (Girardot), a successful older woman who is feeling her age and wishes to do something about it. She checks into a private retreat for people like her, complete with strict diets, exercise, various spa treatments, and most of all, a secret serum administered by doctors that will help to rejuinvate their clients. One of the doctors, Devilers (Delon), takes a special interest in Helene, to the admitted jealousy of other clients. Helene begins to notice that the Portuguese servants who wait on them hand and foot are beginning to disappear and are being replaced with new help. Digging deeper, Helene discovers a horrifying secret, but being able to leave the retreat and report it proves to be a deadly prospect.

Never before available on home video in the US, Severin Films brings Shock Treatment to Blu-ray for the first time utilizing a new 2K scan of the uncut interpositive courtesy of StudioCanal. It’s an excellent presentation with mostly tight grain, relaxing only slightly here and there, and an enormous amount of fine detail on clothing, objects, and landscapes. The color palette doesn’t offer a wide array of hues, but the blue skies, green foliage, and flesh tones all appear natural. Blacks are deep with an abundance of shadow detail, particularly on clothing, while brightness and contrast levels are ideal. It’s also a clean and stable presentation with only mild specks popping up from time to time.

The audio is provided in English and French 2.0 mono DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH and English for the French audio. Unsurprisingly, the original French track is a much better listen compared to the English dub, which is frankly not very good. In addition, the French track is also wider, allowing for more breathing room for the film’s score and sound effects. The English track is flat and narrow with echoey dialogue. It also features a prominent layer of hiss. The French track is free of any such damage, further establishing it as the clear winner sonically.

The following extras are also included, all in HD:

  • Alain Jessua: The Lone Deranger – A Portrait by Bernard Payen (20:13)
  • Koering’s Scoring (23:43)
  • Doctor’s Disorders: An Interview with Director Alain Jessua (9:51)
  • Drumrunning: Rene Koering’s Commentary on Three Sequences (8:19)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:44)

In The Lone Ranger, Bernard Payen, who is the curator at the Cinematheque Francaise, discusses the career of director Alain Jessua in detail. In Koering’s Scoring, composer Rene Koering talks about his beginnings as a musician and painter, how he became a film composer, and working with Alain Jessua. In Doctor’s Disorders, Jessua goes over his approach to making films, specifically what he did for Shock Treatment. In Drumrunning, Rene Koering talks about the music he composed for the film’s opening titles, the sauna and beach sequence, and the finale. This release is also available as a Limited Editon with an exclusive slipcover and a CD featuring 12 tracks of Rene Koering’s score for the film.

Shock Treatment is an interesting film that plays with the paranoia of its protagonist well, but doesn’t hold quite as much power as it perhaps did upon its initial release thanks to similar films made since. For many, the sight of seeing so many French actors and actresses in their birthday suits is reason enough to seek it out. Thanks to Severin Films, its decades-long unavailability on home video has been rectified.

- Tim Salmons

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