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The Devil’s Stairway (1964)

Released on July 4, 2019

Blu-ray Collection

The Devil’s Stairway (1964)

Director: Lee Man-hee

Year : 2019

Director Lee Man-hee's The Devil's Stairway is a revenge drama, one in which a woman is sacrificed by a man hungry for success. The film gets called both a Korean classic and the magnum opus of Lee's mystery horror films. In fact, The Devil's Stairway is closer to a mystery thriller than a classic horror, but it could still be considered a modified horror film given that the sound, mood, and setting embrace the conventions of the horror genre. Prior to this film, there were as the ghost story Madam White Snake (1960, Shin Sang-ok) and the authentic horror A Flower of Evil (Lee Yong-min, 1961), but The Devil's Stairway was the first true combination of mystery thriller and horror. 

Given that the director is Lee Man-hee, we anticipate something more than just a typical genre film. In fact, it is worth noting that the film also condenses down Lee Man-hee's soon-to-flourish auteur world. In particular, we get cinematographer Seo Jung-min's outstanding camerawork - traversing the outside and inside of the hospital that acts as the main set - alongside Lee's cinematic individuality in a plot that speaks through its places, characters, and atmosphere instead of its lines and incidents. The combination of elements - Lee Man-hee's unique auteurism, cinematic perfection, and an early masterpiece - grant The Devil's Stairway unrivaled recognition within the genre.

Director Lee Man-hee has long been known for films that include The Marines Who Never Returned (1963), Full Autumn (1966), and The Road to Sampo (1975). Indeed, it is true that Lee's film world was once reduced to just these three films. But after the Retrospective of the 2005 Busan International Film Festival and Full Exhibition of Lee Man-hee Film hosted by the Korea Film Archive in 2006, Lee was belatedly rediscovered as a film auteur. His remaining works are forever being reviewed, with many of them newly arriving on lists of Korean film masterpieces, including Black Hair (1964), A Water Mill (1965), Homebound (1967), A Day Off (1968), and 4 o'clock Nineteen Fifty (1972). The Devil's Stairway is one of the best-known masterpieces of the genre, but until now poor screen quality meant that it could not be properly evaluated.

This Blu-ray title of The Devil's Stairway not only solves that problem, it also includes film critic Kim Hea-ry's commentary. Kim, who approaches film with the most delicate sense of the critics of her day, reads the rich details of the film with her unique perspective. As you follow Kim's commentary, you will come to understand both the various meanings of a film that you have been missing, and the directing methods Lee employed. The Blu-ray title also includes a booklet with an article written by Huh Moon-yung, a leading film critic and someone who has both studied Lee Man-hee's films and introduced them to film audiences over the course of many years.
Subtitles: Korean, English, Japanese
Frame: 1080 HD 16:9
Audio: Korean LPCM Mono
Rating: Aged 15 or over
Running Time: 109 min.

Special Features
- Commentary: Kim Hea-ry(Film Critic)
- GV Clip: Kim Hyung-seok(Film Critic), Yim Pil-sung(Film Director)

- “A Scheme of Coincidence or a Trick of God: Bizarre Time and Space of The Devil’s Stairway”, Huh Moon-yung(Film Critic)