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Category:    Home > Reviews > Exploitation > Horror > Murder > Giallo > Sexploitation > Italy > Byleth: The Demon Of Incest (1972/Severin Blu-ray)

Byleth: The Demon Of Incest (1972/Severin Blu-ray)

Picture: B- Sound: C+ Extras: D Film: C+

Some films have shocking content and some have shocking titles, but for a non-X rated film to have a title like Byleth: The Demon Of Incest (1972), one becomes shocked until they also become puzzled. What is this? Well, considering we have not heard of it, unless it was one of the most censored films of all time (it is not) then what is its content? Probably coincidentally, it arrived the same year as the actual first-ever XXX film widely distributed: Deep Throat, so it could have been a crazy, quickly made cash-in, but it is not that either.

Instead, set in an earlier time, a Duke (Mark Damon) starts to have a sexual attraction to his sister (Claudia Gravy (yes, that's her name) in a situation that may have limited this film's release or got it banned in uneventful ways), but instead of some standard melodrama with who know's what point to make, this is also a horror film with a masked killer on the loose, making it an Italian Giallo. Additionally, other characters with their own power and sex agendas are present and add the supernatural demonic side of things and Co-Writer/Director Leopoldo Savona threw in everything but the kitchen sink... probably because that was not invented yet.

The result is a mess of debauchery not quite as bad as Caligula (and not because it is not as graphic, as that film was way more bonkers for all kinds of reasons) in that respect, but this is no epic at a mere 83 minutes. I will give the makers credit that the film looks like the earlier time period intended, as when the actors have their clothes on.

Though some of the women may be sexy in appearance, nothing else is and the supernatural aspect becomes silly quickly, making only so much sense and just an excuse for more scenes that don't add up and are nearly repetitive. Even if we changed the title to0 something more modest, clever, etc., that would not help the film much. Nothing really stayed with me and outside of daring to deal with a taboo issue, you've seen everything here elsewhere before, sometimes better.

I don't think there was a better film to be made either, so the result is a mix of genres in one film struggling for early attention in the marketplace and being it was the counterculture era, decided to go where it goes. At least the editing is not bad and the actors take the material and audience seriously, so this never becomes a spoof of itself, yet I waited for it to add up to something and it never really does. Instead, it is a curio that deserved to be issued so people could see what the fuss was about, yet I don't remember there ever being any fuss about it at all. It also most looks like something I saw decades ago on TV, albeit very edited, but whether it was this film or one like it, I'll never know. But if nothing else, it is a film that definitely defines the term EuroSleaze for better or worse.

Anyhow in playback, it is not bad for an orphan film its age, with a 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used and has some flaws, softness and slight damage that one could expect from such a film. Color is really good and consistent, down to fleshtones. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix shows its age more, with obvious dubbing typical of all post-WWII Italian films until the last recently and sonic limits from the low budget from when this was produced in the first place. As usual, Severin did their best to make this look like a lost 35mm print, but even they sometimes cannot fix certain flaws, no more than Criterion, Arrow, Blue Underground, Synapse or the major labels could. Still, at its best, it plays well enough.

There are no extras, but maybe enough is enough.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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