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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Demons > Possession > Erotic > Sexploitation > Religion > Witch Hunt > Vampires > Fr > Exorcism (aka Demoniac/1975)/Female Vampire (aka Erotikill/1973/Kino/Redeption Blu-rays)/I Love It From Behind! (1981)/Sex Hunter: Wet Target (1972/Nikkatsu/Impulse DVDs)

Exorcism (aka Demoniac/1975)/Female Vampire (aka Erotikill/1973/Kino/Redeption Blu-rays)/I Love It From Behind! (1981)/Sex Hunter: Wet Target (1972/Nikkatsu/Impulse DVDs)

 

Picture: B-/B-/C+/C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+/C+/C/C     Films: C+/C+/C/C

 

 

As softcore 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.

 

We start 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.

 

Definitely 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.

 

There are 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.

 

Besides 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.

 

 

A few 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.

 

Also this 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.

 

This was 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.

 

I give 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.

 

Besides 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.

 

 

Moving 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.

 

 

Yukihiro 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 production.

Unfortunately, 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.

 

 

Koyu 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.

 

The 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.

 

Extras on 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.

 

 

The 1080p 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 such.

 

Since 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 that either.

 

The 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 dub version.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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