(aka Demoniac/1975)/Female Vampire (aka Erotikill/1973/Kino/Redeption
Blu-rays)/I Love It From Behind!
(1981)/Sex Hunter: Wet Target
B-/B-/C+/C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+/C+/C/C Films: C+/C+/C/C
and ‘nudey’ films gave way to XXX hardcore films and were joined by them, world
cinema also found itself with mixtures of said nudity, sex and other
genres. For a while now, Redemption has
been issuing some of those films in the Horror genre while Impulse has been
issuing Dramas and Comedies from Nikkatsu the same way. I thought this would be the time to tie the
two together with two releases per company that happen to be coming out at the
same time to demonstrate the new freedom in world cinema that resulted, even at
the somewhat exploitive end of the spectrum.
with two film directed by the enduring Jess Franco, who has well over 100
features to his credit, but he hit a particular stride in the early 1970s as
cinematic freedom caught up with his ideas and style.
Exorcism (aka Demoniac/1975) is a satanic possession tale, but mixed with heavy
doses of nudity, sex and even S&M in the porno chic mode as a woman (Lina
Romay, Mr. Franco’s wife) stages fake Satanic rituals, a defrocked priest into
S&M (among other things) encounters her work and takes it too seriously, he
decides to go after her and all the women in Paris as sick inquisitor and more
as something darker is about to be unleashed.
intended to capitalize on Friedkin’s The
Exorcist (1972, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), it has its
moments and I like the look of it, overdone S&M silliness not
withstanding. Definitely a time capsule
of sex and counterculture of the time getting wild, the film looks good and has
a cinematic visual density that even makes the lesser moments watchable. It is also one of Franco’s more memorable
films and has a following that makes sense.
two versions of the film here, including the shorter Demoniac version that is less graphic and has several instances of
scenes being shot with totally different clothes and sex set ups than the
longer, original version of the film (rarely seen anywhere, so its great
Redemption was able to get this long version since so many video and film
prints are not it) to make it to different markets and be accepted by varying
censorship standards worldwide. What is
interesting is that the alternate versions have the same feel and consistency
as their more graphic counterparts, even when they negate some of the danger
and terror intended making for interesting comparisons.
the two cuts of the film the only other extra is the Original Theatrical
Trailer, but this is a solid Blu-ray releases that is worth a good look for
fans and the curious.
years before, Franco was being racy in another direction with Female Vampire (aka Erotikill/1973) in which a sexy,
conniving vampiress (Lina Romay again) is using sexual intercourse and other
forms of sex on her victims, but instead of just getting blood by fangs, is
sucking the life force out of her victims which would almost technically make
her a succubus but she is also doing the usual vampire seduction and feeding
techniques. Not too ironically, this was
later remade as Incubus in 2002.
time, the style is a bit different as the film goes for a more naturalistic
look to emphasize a vampirism and sex connection that hides the darker
supernatural evil she is capable of. It
is shot in widescreen scope framing (specifically Techniscope, like the
Spaghetti Westerns of the time) and the result is a mix of the Franco style
similar to Exorcism and a sense of
freedom (even if it can be deceptive) in that scope frame.
the trend with a newer cycle of vampire films versus the rich color of the
Hammer productions, as this particularly reminded me of The Velvet Vampire (which works better than this film but is in the
same more; see reviews elsewhere on this site) and the lesbian subgenre of
vampire films of the time that were trying to reveal a new side of such
films. This is a bold twist on the
legend not unlike Brian Clemens’ Captain
Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974, Hammer) in which the vampires are stealing
youth from their victims.
credit to Franco for being so bold here and the sex will surprise some people,
but what it gains in honesty and something new, it looses in narrative and in
both cuts offered here (this was too erotic for TV and certain markets, so the
reason for a censored edition was far more obvious) the longer uncut version is
the best. It is a must-see for anyone
serious about vampire cinema and I will not say anything more as not to spoil
any additional surprises, but it is great that Redemption has an uncut longer
version here because that really makes a difference.
both cuts, extras include Original Theatrical Trailer and two featurettes: Destiny In Soft Focus: Jess Franco Remembers
Female Vampire and Words For Lina
in which Miss Romay (who just passed away in 2012) co-star Jean-Pierre Bouyxou
talks about working with the actress and making this film.
over to Japan, where erotic culture can be as racy as anything French, Nikkatsu
made a long series of short, soft core (and maybe hard core, depending on if
some of the digital cover-ups in various scenes on these DVDs were not so in
their respective theatrical releases) feature films meant to be the cinematic
equivalent of small erotic paperbacks that were a major financial success for
the studio. Not getting into the genres
above, the films are still interesting for what they were intended to be and
the latest two are not as similar as you might think.
Sawada’s Sex Hunter: Wet Target
(1972) is a rape/revenge film where the male lead finds out his sister was
raped and killed by U.S. soldiers while he was away (itself a politically
exploitive reference to Post-WWII U.S. presence in the country) so when he gets
out, he intends to kill them all. In the
midst of this, there is far more sex than you would get in a mere violent
exploitation film and every twist and turn is also exploitive, yet the film
reflects the kinds of erotic narrative cinema that was surfacing outside of XXX
there is not much of a script here, this is pure exploitation and at (look out)
only 69 minutes, is not long enough to deal with all of its issues seriously as
it is meant to get the audiences’ goat on a base level. Still, it is well made enough not to look too
cheap and will be a curio for its content.
Ohara’s I Love It From Behind! (1981)
comes across more like a bolder variant of a softcore British or Australian sex
comedy of the 1970s than the usual Nikkatsu Erotica as a young lady infatuated
(to be subtle about it) with an “alternative” kind of intercourse goes bonkers
about it and this extends to involving others, including males who are usually
not interested. This always leads to
homophobic humor and every XXX cliché on the subject you could imagine, but to
make this wackier, she is trying to get on paper 100 prints of men in peak
sexual intercourse mode.
result is a film that is too silly for its own good, as well as too obvious and
one that misses too many opportunities to be truly funny or sexy because of its
tired preoccupations. At 65 minutes, the
makers are quitting while they are ahead.
The film is too graphic about its sex to be an outright or lite comedy,
but that will also be a reason some will want to see it to begin with.
both Impulse/Nikkatsu DVDs include an Original Theatrical Trailer on their
respective discs, while the respective cases have paper pullouts with essays by
Japanese Film Scholar Jasper Sharp, who really knows his subject.
digital High Definition image transfers on the Redemption Blu-rays may have
prints that show their age and can look a little dated, but they are the best
transfers (as expected on the list) and despite that, I prefer the films look
raw instead of manipulated and turned into something they are not to which all
serious films fans appreciate. I felt
the 1.66 X 1 on Exorcism was very
narrowly better than the 2.35 X 1 HD image on Vampire because it was more color consistent and had less overall
issues, including in their alternate versions.
Vampire was shot in two-perf
Techniscope and issued at least in outside of the U.S.
in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints, but we could not confirm a U.S. release of
this is from original film elements as the Blu-ray case claims, Vampire has more grain than a real
Technicolor print (any copy of which is worth serious money these days) would
since it is from non-dye-transfer materials.
There are a few shots where you can see what the Technicolor would have
looked like, but not as many as expected, though in fairness to the film, many
shots have some limited color range in its drive for naturalistic shots. Turning up your HDTV color will not change
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 on both DVDs are softer than their Blu-ray
counterparts, but have their moments of good color and definition, plus the
makers (especially of Target) use
the full width of the scope frame, which is a plus. Expect more than a few instances of softness
and their own print age issues.
The PCM 2.0
Mono on the Blu-rays and lossy Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the DVDs are
about even sonically since these were theatrical monophonic releases (optical
sound we gather as well) and are only going to be so dynamic. The French PCM 2.0 Mono track on Exorcism sounds better than the English
- Nicholas Sheffo