5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas DVD Review

Reviewed by Peter West

DVD released by Cinema Image Productions


Written and directed by Joseph F. Parda
1996, Region 1 (NTSC), 111 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on January 25th, 2004

Liz Haverty as Gloria Streeb
Joe Zaso as Bill Streeb
Mony Damevsky as Richard Streeb
Xavier Domingo as Inspector Andez



A jogger is killed in the shower, a controversial artist is stabbed and his body disappears. This sets the stage for Joseph F. Parda's award winning salute to the "giallo" genre of Italian films. When police can't find the evidence of a crime after Gloria Streeb reports seeing her husband brutally stabbed, she is treated as both a suspect and nutcase by the eccentric Inspector Andez. The missing artist's brother (Joe Zaso) arrives on the scene and decides to find who would want to see his brother harmed.

While Bill Streeb investigates the life of his brother Richard, it seems like everybody he talks to winds up dead. From a business manager with pet piranha, to a whore working out of a beatnik coffee shop, bodies drop and secrets are exposed. As hippie poet says: "the killing won't stop until there are five dead on the crimson canvas"!



5 Dead on the Crimson Canvas is a slick little indie film saluting the "giallo" subgenre of Italian films that was so popular in the '60s and '70s. Using subtle and sometimes not so subtle homage's in the film, Parda borrows from the likes of Mario Bava and Dario Argento to make this film work. The plot is well written, the actors while looking like they may be more comfortable on the stage than in front of a camera do an acceptable job. Joe Zaso doesn't take his character over the edge like he does in many of his newer films and looks like the kid right out of college he was at the time of the filming.

Parda uses camera angles to enhance the action as the plot twists and turns. In classic giallo style the killer dressed all in black manages to keep their identity a mystery till the very end. For a $9.99 list DVD, fans of Italian horror would be advised to pick this one up. Personally I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it!


Video and Audio:

Shot on Super8 film due to lack of or maybe existence of a budget, the pic is in pretty rough shape. In parts there's a lot of grain taking away from the image. It's a shame that the film was not preserved and was only available from archive elements.

Presented in Dolby 2.0 mono the soundtrack was in pretty good shape. Free of hiss and distortion it fit the film well.


Special Features:

For a low budget film Cinema Image gives us superb extras. There's a running full length commentary with director Parda and producer/star Joe Zaso. As on other commentaries with Zaso, it's a encyclopedia on how to make a low budget film. The two Joes discuss how they use every trick in the book to get the film done! There's also a trailer, slide show and the original audition tapes for the film. Not bad for a zero budget film!



Video: 2 Stars

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