Vinegar Syndrome’s ‘Olivia’ (1983) 4k Restoration DVD/Blu-Ray Review

It’s Vinegar Syndrome time again! For March/April 2020, we were a bit spoiled, getting 4 separate Blu-rays to review from the film restoration company. We started with a review of Vin Syn’s Deadline (1980) 2k restoration DVD/Blu-ray (you can read that review here), then we went with James Bryan’s scenery-chewing romp, Hell Riders (1984 – read that review here). The third film for the month is Ulli Lommel’s 1981 sleazy thriller, Olivia (1983 – AKA Prozzie and Double Jeopardy).

From Vinegar Syndrome’s website:

This special limited edition embossed slipcover (designed by Earl Kessler Jr.) is limited to 2,000 units and is only available here at VinegarSyndrome.com!

When she was a child, Olivia (Suzanna Love) witnessed the horrifying and violent murder of her prostitute mother at the hands of an angry John. Now an adult, she’s married to an abusive and controlling factory worker, that is, until her mother appears to her and demands that Olivia avenge her death by seducing and then slaying men. While disposing of a body near the London Bridge, Olivia has a chance meeting with a friendly American named Mike (Robert Walker Jr) who reveals that he’s visiting England in order to dismantle and move the bridge to Arizona, setting off a series of increasingly strange events, and a lot more bloodshed…

Perhaps the most offbeat film in the fascinating career of German actor turned exploitation auteur, Ulli Lommel (Tenderness of the Wolves, The Boogeyman) OLIVIA (also known as Prozzie and Double Jeopardy) finds a distinctive blend of slasher, erotic thriller, and straight forward sleaze, seasoned with touches of semi-surrealism. Atmospherically photographed and featuring a moody score by Joel Goldsmith (Man’s Best Friend), Vinegar Syndrome brings this nearly unclassifiable piece of early 80s genre weirdness to Blu-ray, newly restored in 4K from its original 35mm camera negative and presented in its completely uncensored version for the first time on disc.

Directed by: Ulli Lommel
Starring: Suzanna Love, Robert Walker Jr., Jeff Winchester, Ulli Lommel
1981 / 85 min / 1.85:1

Special features:

• Region Free Blu-ray/DVD combo
• Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative
• “Becoming Olivia” – an interview with actress Suzanna Love
• “Taking on Many Roles” – an interview with writer/asst. director John P. Marsh
• “A Chance Meeting” – an interview with cinematographer Jon Kranhouse
• “Learning From Ulli” – an interview with editor Terrell Tannen
• Super 8mm behind-the-scenes footage shot and narrated by writer/a.d. John P. Marsh
• Original theatrical trailer
• Reversible cover artwork
• SDH English subtitles

Let me just start by saying that I have a teenage daughter named Olivia, so seeing the title of this release gave me quite a start. I think I actually felt even more sympathy for the character because of this.

Olivia is a seedy exploitation flick obviously inspired by the direction of Alfred Hitchcock. Writer/Director Ulli Lommel (AKA Mario Van Cleef, Ulrich Lommel and Steven Sondberg) admits to being a fan of the Master of Suspense, and it shows. John P. Marsh (A Taste Of Sin 1983) and Ron Norman (Horizons 1980) co-wrote the script with Lommel. Besides casting his wife at the time, Dupont heiress Susanna Love (The Bogey Man 1980), and Easy Rider’s Robert Walker, Jr., Lommel hired Bibbe Hansen (Adam Green’s Aladdin 2016), Nicholas Love (Twin Peaks TV series) and Michael Evans (Bye Bye Birdie 1963) to act in the film, while the director himself took on the role of The Detective. The music was composed by Star Trek’s Joel Goldsmith. The highly qualified special FX crew includes Tassilo Baur (Killer Klowns From Outer Space 1988 – read our retro review here), Dessie Markovsky (Flight Of The Navigator 1986) and Scott Andrew Tessler (Scream 1996).

The film starts off as a five-year-old Olivia watches through a keyhole as her prostitute mother entertains men in her bedroom. She witnesses a John kill her mom, an event that will haunt her for her entire life. She manages to keep afloat despite this traumatic event. Fifteen years later, she’s married to an abusive husband, which may be a product of her guilt after watching her mother die without helping her. Her shame and resilience are further accentuated when she sees the ghost of her mom who tells her to seduce and then kill men. Unfortunately, Olivia’s guilt and her mother’s ghost are not assuaged by just one murder, and the young woman goes on a killing spree, meting out the punishment she feels they all deserve by proxy.

Things take a turn when she meets Michael (Walker, Jr.), an American man interested in moving the iconic London Bridge to the US. An instant attraction drives them both, and even years later when they meet up again, sparks (and more bloody knives) fly.

More of a grim, steamy mystery than an outright horror film, Olivia is visually attractive with a grim yet satisfying ending. The sex-then-death scenes are memorable and striking as well. The story never gets boring, despite the different directions the script goes in. Susanna Love does a fantastic job portraying Olivia as she evolves from having a severe inferiority complex into a strong, proud, happy woman through the power of murder.

The video and audio are much better than expected, especially after a notice from Vin Syn at the beginning of the film announcing that the first reel of the original 35mm format was irreparably damaged. Giving Olivia the 4k restoration treatment had beautiful results. Blacks are black, and colors are bright. I love how clear and crisp even the most minute details came through. As for the audio in Olivia, I barely noticed any glitchy sounds, silences or distortion. I’m extremely satisfied with this Vinegar Syndrome restoration.

Final Thoughts

Vinegar Syndrome’s 4k restoration of Ulli Lommel’s 1983 film, Olivia, is focused and vivid with clear, sharp sound and a steady storyline. This is one of the best results I’ve seen from them so far. Highly recommended.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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