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The Mephisto Waltz (1971) - Blu-ray Review

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The Mephisto Waltz (1971) - Blu-ray Review

3 beersAbout twenty minutes into The Mephisto Waltz all hell breaks loose when a costume party literally goes to the dogs.  With a human mask securely fastened to its head, a black dog strolls into the room.  Don’t adjust the picture.  Yes, even the canines are into the devil’s work in this bizarre slice of necromancy. 

Directed by Paul Wendkos, this creepy cult flick is as unsettling as it is trippy with its use of the fisheye lens.  The Mephisto Waltz is also California’s answer to Rosemary’s Baby, trading apartment living for the sun-soaked beaches, as one couple gets sent straight to hell when the most level-headed one among them suddenly becomes a vessel of pure evil.

Starring Alan Alda, Jacquelin Bisset, and Curt Jurgens as a reclusive pianist whose otherworldly compositions have devil-inspired origins, The Mephisto Waltz is a sneaky spook show of madness and melody.  Written by Ben Maddow and adapted from a novel by Fred Mustard Stewart, Alda plays a failed musician turned reporter who interviews Jurgens for his newspaper article about the composer’s music.  Turns out, it is Alda who is getting interviewed as Jurgens, a closeted Satanist nearing the end of his life, needs a new body with which to possess and continue doing the devil’s work here on earth. 

And it is all done via the face molds that Jurgens’ assistant, Valley of the Dolls’ Barbara Parkins, makes when not mixing potions.  Liszt's "Mephisto" is spread out during the course of the movie and Jerry Goldsmith fills in the rest with a creeping score that adds to the demented – if not a bit heavy-handed – satanic happenings coursing through this flick’s veins. 

Soon enough, the evil will infect their child.

The film is interesting shot and artfully framed, making the most of its familiar story with a detailed design scheme that is all its own.  Colors are also interestingly used.  Brights are bold and blacks are ratcheted to the nth degree as the wicked noose is slipped over the heads of Alda and Bisset as he, suddenly endowed with Jurgens’ money and musical talent, finds himself becoming someone else.  Beside him, Bissett dreams nightmarish visions of white interiors, rabid dogs, and the devil himself. 

With The Mephisto Waltz, it seems that classical music can be just as demonic as heavy metal.  Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents this creepy classic on blu-ray for the first time in its release history.  Buy it, prepare yourself for an arthouse flick, and then kick up the (classical) jams!

The Mephisto Waltz (1971) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
115 mins
: Paul Wendkos
Ben Maddow
Alan Alda, Jacqueline Bisset, Barbara Parkins
: Horror | Mystery
...The Sound of Terror
Memorable Movie Quote: "We could use a new brand of Scotch. This tastes like a poor man's kilt."
Theatrical Distributor:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 9, 1971
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 18, 2017
Synopsis: When was the last time you were afraid? Really afraid? Brace yourself for the ultimate transplant... the human soul! The devil is in the music in this sleek and scary piece of movie necromancy - when a failed musician-turned-journalist (Alan Alda, M*A*S*H) interviews a reclusive aging pianist (Curt Jurgens, The Enemy Below), he doesn't realize he's being interviewed himself... to be the vessel for the Satanist's dying soul! Back in a youthful body, the pianist plans for a long life in the spotlight, but when the journalist's wife (Jacqueline Bisset, Bullitt) realizes her husband's twice the man he used to be, she prepares to make his new life a living Hell!.

The Mephisto Waltz (1971) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- April 18, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region A

Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents The Mephisto Waltz on 1080p with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.  While fuzzy in some areas, the film is super soaked with a great use of color and designs.  Black levels are strong, too.  Obviously, the image is crisper than anything that has been previously seen, but there are some minor errors in the transfer.  For a low-budget film from the early part of the 1970s, the image – and its remastering – is a good experience as dirt and debris and random scratches are at a very low level.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound mix, while muffled a bit, is adequate for this release.



  • Interestingly enough, there are two commentaries.  One is from Film Historian Bill Cooke and the other is from actress Pamelyn Ferdin and is narrated by filmmaker Elijah Drenner.  Both are detailed about the film and its filming and the careers of those involved with the shoot.

Special Features:

There is a trailer and that is it.

  • Original Theatrical Trailer

The Mephisto Waltz (1971) - Blu-ray Review