Five months after its release, “The Hunger Games” remains one of the most satisfying Hollywood productions of the year. Have yourself a great time with the new DVD/Blu-ray release, but when you're done, you might enjoy a look at the great-grandaddy of the murder-as-a-reality-show genre — Elio Petri's 1965 film, “The 10th Victim.” Unlike the generally serious “Hunger Games,” it's a satiric romp, with Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress as adversaries. Of course, they fall in love (or something like that), even though by the rules, only one of them can survive.
Endlessly inventive in both humor and visual design, the film is sheer candy. Based on a short story by Robert Sheckley, which he later reworked into a novel, “The 10th Victim” has since been an influence on the Austin Powers movies — see Andress' 1965-model bullet bra — and other comedies and action films. Perhaps what's most remarkable is the extent to which it predicts many of the details of reality TV 25 years before reality TV existed.
The history of the film on American video is, well, a little strange. Anchor Bay released a so-so DVD about 10 years ago. Their rights presumably expired, because a couple of years ago it was reissued by Blue Underground. These two discs were identical, except for the labels and cover. More recently, Blue Underground came out with aBlu-ray version, which is vastly superior. The improvement is way beyond what can be explained byBlu-ray's greater resolution: This simply had to have been a brand new transfer. Great! What gets confusing is that the company used exactly the same cover it had used for its DVD; i.e., there are two releases with the same cover but vastly different content; and two releases with the same content but totally different covers. Stick with theBlu-ray if you've got a player.
"The 10th Victim" (Blue Underground, Blu-ray, $29.98; DVD, $14.95)
ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on “FilmWeek” on KPCC-FM (89.3).Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun