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Una vela para el diablo (1973)
New British DVD in 2008
An apparently new version of this obscure 1970s psycho-thriller is being issued on DVD in the UK in 2008.
Unfortunately this version is likely to further confuse anyone trying to identify a definitive version of the film.
Problems arise from the moment the title card appears on screen, with the title A Candle for the Devil, which clearly bears a production date of 1973 - three years later than many sources claim for the film, including the IMDb.
Neither does the film resolve the wild discrepancies in the film's reported running time. The IMDb states 120 minutes, the most common TV versions seem to clock in at 67 minutes, but various incarnations of the film have been described as being 82 minutes and 95 minutes. The new UK DVD version runs for 83 minutes; taking into account the compression differences between the theatrical and PAL versions, that would make the actual running time approximately 87 or 88 minutes. (A check with the British Board of Film Classification confirms that the DVD version was passed without cuts, thus represents the complete version presented to the censors - the theatrical version released in 1974, for the sake of comparison, ran to almost 84 minutes but with an unspecified number of cuts)
In terms of content, the DVD does seem to include all of the nudity and violence that was excised from some versions (and presumably the original UK theatrical release) small spoiler here! - including the still quite shocking scene of a mother being murdered in front of her baby.
On a personal note, I find it hard to believe that the film could have run any longer than the version presented here. The film already seems padded with extraneous travelogue sequences around the town where it is set, set to truly awful rinky-dink music. I certainly can't think what could possibly be included in a 95 minute version of the movie, let alone an 120 minute cut!
But if all this spurs you to seek out the new UK DVD, be warned: the print of the film is badly worn and obviously hasn't undergone any sort of digital cleaning or remastering at all. Nor is it an anamorphic disc: it plays at the 4:3 screen ratio, albeit letterboxed - which, in this day and age, is unforgivable!