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Shadow of Death

original title: Viaje al vacío

Comparison:

  • Italian Version (Cineploit)
  • Spanish Version (Mondo Macabro)
Release: Jan 23, 2024 - Author: brainbug1602 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB

The Austrian Blu-ray from Cineploit Records (Italian version) was compared with the US Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro (Spanish version).

The Phantom Killer Strikes

One day, the mysterious Gert Muller appears in a small Spanish town. He knows that the pharmacist Peter is having an affair with Denise, the wife of his twin brother John, and tries to extort hush money. At the same time, Denise and Peter plan to drive John insane to inherit his wealth. Gert's appearance plays into their hands. Through psychological manipulation, John is induced to shoot Gert, but Gert survives. Driven by guilt, John tries to find out what really happened to him, but all clues have been removed, causing him to doubt his sanity.

In 1969, the Italian-Spanish co-production Viaje al vacío (English title: Shadow of Death) was created, a kind of crime/psychological thriller that is sometimes associated with the Giallo genre. The idea of twins, where one tries to drive the other insane, is interesting but at times absurd. Due to an insurance clause, John must stay alive, or else Denise and Peter won't get his money. Larry/Peter is portrayed by the US actor Larry Ward, and it's not always easy to understand which character he is embodying. Confusion arises in scenes where Peter pretends to be John, who pretends to be Peter. Shadow of Death is not always easily accessible, occasionally abstract, but still compellingly directed. It is worth a look for fans of the genre. In Germany, the film was given the title Der Phantom-Killer schlägt wieder zu (which translates to the heading used for this paragraph), raising the question of who this Phantom Killer is. The number of murder victims is very low.

Two versions for different markets

Since the films was financed with both Italian and Spanish money, a separately edited version was created for each market. On April 30, 2021, Cineploit Records released the film on Blu-ray in Austria, including the Italian version. On November 14, 2023, Mondo Macabro released the film on Blu-ray in the USA, but with the Spanish version.

Generally, the plot is similar to identical in both versions. In the Italian version, some scenes were slightly shortened, which is not very noticeable. Minimal cuts under half a second are not listed in the report. The meeting between Peter/John and Annie differs in both versions. In the Italian version, Peter and Annie have sex. When John then appears at Annie's, there is sex again before John loses control. In the Spanish version, Peter simply leaves Annie's apartment again. When John appears, he confronts Annie immediately. It is noteworthy that Annie is seen naked in the Italian version, while in the Spanish version, she is always wearing underwear.

Due to censorship regulations, nude scenes were not allowed in Spanish films at that time. The alternative scenes of John/Annie can be found in the bonus material of the US Blu-ray. There are other instances where alternative footage was used, not included in the bonus material.

Image Comparison:

Austrian Blu-ray (Cineploit Records):

US Blu-ray (Mondo Macabro):

Runtimes:

Austrian Blu-ray (Cineploit Records): 88:49 min.
US Blu-ray (Mondo Macabro): 92:16 min.

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[00:00:17][00:00:16]

During the opening credits, a shot of the steering wheel of the car is cut.



US: 19 sec


[00:00:17][00:00:36]

Alternative title overlays.

Austrian Blu-rayUS Blu-ray



No time difference.


[00:02:56][00:03:14]

The road can be seen longer after the car has turned.



US: 2 sec


[00:03:09][00:03:29]

The interior view of the car is longer than it drives along the road. The rest of the credits fade in.



US: 9 sec


[00:03:52][00:04:21]

Gert can be seen for longer as he walks along the building. Water drips from the gutter onto the ground.



US: 8 sec.


[00:04:27][00:05:04]

Peter can be seen for longer as he runs to Gert.



AT: 1 sec


[00:09:27][00:10:05]

In the Austrian Blu-ray, Denise kisses John several times. He takes her in his arms.



The US Blu-ray uses alternative footage. Denise also kisses John several times, but he does not reciprocate her displays of affection.



AT: 22 sec.
US: 25 sec.


[00:10:46][00:11:27]

The Austrian Blu-ray shows Gert looking at John.



The US Blu-ray shows an alternate shot of Gert.



AT: 3 sec.
US: 2 sec.


[00:10:52][00:11:32]

John is seen longer at the gas pump, then a cut to Gert in the car. The following shot of John walking to the car starts earlier.



US: 7 secs.


[00:11:41][00:12:28]

The US Blu-ray continues showing John getting up from his desk, taking his jacket and walking down the stairs. In the following shot, Denise can be seen earlier.



US: 19 secs.


[00:11:47][00:12:53]

The Austrian Blu-ray shows John getting up and taking his jacket. How he walks down the stairs is missing. Peter drives off.



The US Blu-ray continues to show Peter closing the car door after he gets in.



AT: 13 secs.
US: 1 sec.


[00:12:01][00:12:55]

John is seen longer as he comes down the stairs.



US: 1 sec.


[00:12:12][00:13:08]

John and Denise are seen earlier.



US: 1 sec.


[00:12:20][00:13:17]

The US Blu-ray now shows Peter driving off in his car. The shot is longer than in the AT.



US: 5 sec.


[00:13:43][00:14:46]

Gert can be seen longer on the stairs. The next shot begins earlier. Two women walk along the street.



US: 6 secs.


[00:16:36][00:17:45]

Peter is seen for longer after Denise says she needs a real man by her side.



US: 1 sec.


[00:18:38][00:19:47]

Gert can be seen earlier as he walks into the bar.



US: 4 sec.


[00:20:26][00:21:40]

The dishes can be seen for longer.



US: 1 sec


[00:20:53][00:22:08]

Peter is seen earlier putting on John's suit.



US: 2 secs.


[00:21:18][00:22:35]

Peter can still be seen in front of the mirror. He combs his hair.



US: 4 sec:


[00:21:31][00:22:52]

Denise is seen earlier as she calls after Peter.



US: 0.5 sec.


[00:22:58][00:24:19]

The Austrian Blu-ray cuts to Peter at the wheel of the car.



The US Blu-ray continues to show Peter chasing Denise. This is followed by a short scene in which the two get closer to each other by a bookshelf. Peter gives Denise a kiss.



AT: 4 sec
US: 18 sec.


[00:23:14][00:24:49]

Before cutting back to Peter and Denise at the bookshelf, the US Blu-ray here shows the shot of Peter at the wheel of the car.



US: 4 secs.


[00:23:57][00:25:35]

Peter's car can still be seen on the road.



US: 4 sec


[00:27:09][00:28:52]

The US Blu-ray cuts briefly to the street name sign.



US: 1 sec.


[00:27:12][00:28:56]

The Austrian Blu-ray shows an alternate shot of the sign after Annie says it's house number 5.



AT: 1 sec


[00:28:34][00:30:17]

Annie is seen earlier as she knocks on the wall.



US: 1 sec.


[00:29:54][00:31:38]

The Austrian Blu-ray shows Annie being grabbed by Peter. Annie says he should leave her alone.



The US Blu-ray shows an alternative shot of this.



AT: 4 sec.
US: 4 sec.


[00:30:16][00:32:00]

In the Austrian Blu-ray, Peter pushes Annie onto the bed. He demands the same kisses that John got before he forces a kiss from Annie. She takes a liking to it and lets Peter kiss her all over her body. After sex, Peter stubs out a cigarette. Annie, who is sleeping next to him, wakes up. Peter asks if he was as good as his brother. Annie says that he is the only one she is interested in now. The two kiss.



In the US Blu-ray, Peter pushes Annie onto the bed before leaving the apartment. Annie cries but then gets up again to knock on the wall to turn on the light.



AT: 1:51 min.
US: 34 sec.


[00:35:13][00:35:42]

Peter's car can be seen for longer.



US: 1 sec.


[00:35:34][00:36:04]

Peter and Gert can be seen for longer.



US: 1 sec.


[00:38:52][00:39:24]

Peter can be seen playing the record for longer.



US: 2 sec


[00:38:56][00:39:30]

The record player can be seen earlier.



US: 2 sec


[00:39:29][00:40:05]

The US Blu-ray cuts to the record player. John threatens to topple over. Peter picks him up and leans him against a wooden beam. In between, a cut to Denise.



US: 18 sec.


[00:39:33][00:40:28]

The Austrian Blu-ray shows Peter taking the cartridges out of the revolver.



The US Blu-ray cuts to the record player.



AT: 7 sec.
US: 2 sec.


[00:39:55][00:40:45]

The US Blu-ray now shows a shot of Peter changing the bullets in the revolver. Then a cut to the record player.



US: 11 sec


[00:44:58][00:45:59]

John's hand can be seen earlier.



US: 1 sec.


[00:44:59][00:46:00]

The shot from John's hand that follows also starts earlier.



US: 1 sec.


[00:45:15][00:46:17]

In the Austrian Blu-ray, the camera pulls back from John. You see him shooting Gert in the basement.



The US Blu-ray shows an alternate shot of John as the camera pulls back from him. In his programmed memory, he shoots Gert in the car.



US: 7 sec.


[00:45:24][00:46:29]

The US Blu-ray shows Gert falling backwards in the car, then another cut to John.



US: 2 sec.


[00:45:29][00:46:36]

The US Blu-ray again briefly shows Gert in the car, then a cut to John.



US: 3 sec.
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