I Don't Want to Be Born AKA The Monster AKA The Devil Within Her AKA Sharon's Baby (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Network
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (24th September 2021).
The Film

Joan Collins gives an instantly memorable performance as a stripper cursed by a dwarf to give birth to a demonic child in this classic '70s exploitation horror directed by Hammer/Amicus veteran Peter Sasdy. Co-starring Eileen Atkins, Ralph Bates, Donald Pleasence and Caroline Munro, The Monster (aka I Don't Want to be Born) is featured here as a brand-new High Definition remaster from original film elements in its original theatrical aspect ratio.

There's something wrong with Lucy and Gino's little boy... born with what seems to be abnormal strength and an innate hatred of people, he appears to enjoy inflicting injury on others. Doctors are baffled, but a nun is convinced that the baby is possessed. Then events take such a murderous turn that few can afford to ignore the nun's warnings!

Video

An absolutely barking mad slab of trashy, sleazy UK horror from Peter Sasdy about a demonic baby. Joan Collins pays a stripper who actually doesn't strip which is utterly bizarre. She's married to cod-Italian Ralph Bates and gives birth to a 12lb evil baby who kills and / or terrorises the cast. Bates has an Italian nun sister is played by Eileen Atkins no less! Both play the entire film with mild "atsa fine boss!" accents.

When Collins spurns the advances of an amorous dwarf called Hercules (George Claydon) he curses her and the demon cherub is the result. One of the most outré British horror flicks of the period and one of the silliest despite the large amount of hefty talent both behind and in front of the camera and easily one of THE great guilty pleasures of '70s genre cinema. Every time Sasdy shows the baby and it's meant to be demonic will have you in stitches. It's all so poorly staged and contrived.

The previous UK DVDs from Carlton and Network were barebones affairs using a decent ITC master dating from the early 2000s. However, Network's superb new Blu-ray blows both of those very respectable transfers out of the water with an uptick in detail, contrast and colour. It's a very brown film - it is 1975 after all - but it looks about as good as it ever has on this BD50 with a maxed out bitrate. Flesh tones are a little ruddy but naturalistic and there are some lovely, velvety reds in the club scenes that are well defined with no bleed. It's happily a very filmic presentation with plenty of fine grain and a decent encode. The print is free from damage and looks clean enough to have been shot yesterday. I saw no signs of digital tinkering.

Black levels are excellent with no pallid grays, some decent shadow detail and no signs of unintended crush. Contrast is also well balanced and supportive allowing detail to shine. This is a very good presentation of a very good master.

1080/24p / AVC MPEG-4 / BD50 / 1.66:1 / 93:55

Audio

English LPCM 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English HoH

Mono sound is clean, clear and robust. It gets the job done without having a great deal of range which is not surprising considering when this film was made. The score is well balanced in the mix with no distortions that I could hear; even when played very loud.

Excellent subtitles for the hearing impaired have been provided.

Extras

Audio commentary with the Cult Second Features Podcast team (Laura Mayne and Adrian Smith) (2021)

A chatty couple who deliver an excellent and rollicking and occasionally personal commentary for the film that kicks off with a discussion of the multifarious titles that this film has been sold under (I first encountered it on an ex-rental VHS as The Devil Within Her. In any case, they know their stuff and both have been discussing films for decades. Presented in LPCM 2.0 Mono.

"Sasdy's Baby" 2021 interview director Peter Sasdy (23:30)
"Holding the Baby" 2021 interview with continuity supervisor Renée Glynne and wardrobe supervisor Brenda Dabbs (14:29)
"The Excisist" 2021 interview with editor Keith Palmer (10:14)


An excellent clutch of featurettes totally 48:13 collectively and forming a very nice retrospective with lots of great stories about the production, it's history and what it was like to make. Interesting to hear Sasdy's comments; he's pretty fair in his assessment looking at both good and bad aspects of the piece. Interesting it started life as a project for Hammer and ended up being an Italian-English production. Presented in 1080/24p 1.78:1 with LPCM 2.0 stereo sound.

Alternative Titles: "I Don't Want to Be Born" (3:30)

These should have been at the front of the film because the title "I Don't Want to Be Born" is the main UK title from first release; quality is on a par with the main feature. Presented in 1080/24p 1.66:1 with LPCM 2.0 sound.

Theatrical Trailer (2:34)

Vintage promo has been restored, is grainier than the main feature and presented in 1080/24p 1.66:1 with LPCM 2.0 sound.

Image Gallery (4:53)

Excellent silent slideshow presented in 1089/24p with varying ratios.

Start-up Trailers (5:16)
- The Possession of Joel Delaney (3:02)
- Death Line (2:14)


Trailers for other Network releases presented in 1080/24p 1.85:1 with LPCM 2.0 sound.

Liner notes booklet by Adrian Smith

Sadly, not provided for review.

Packaging

The usual, clear, slimline BD case.

Overall

One of the great guilty pleasures of UK horror cinema gets the deluxe treatment from Network in the UK. Excellent image and sound supported by a lovely extras package. Highly recommended!

The Film: C- Video: A- Audio: A- Extras: A+ Overall: A

 


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