31 July, 2008

She's back...!

Here's our mystery actress in another provocative pose...

Can anyone "ID" her?*

*There's a big hint in the above question.

25 July, 2008


The Sultry look! If I were casting a film in Spain or anywhere she would be on my short list...

21 July, 2008

BFI's CFFP Filmo

[From the British Film Institute site. Anything missing? Hey, any company which produced JUDEX, THE 3 FANTASTIC SUPERMEN and THE PERVERSE COUNTESS can't be all bad!]

Comptoir Français du Film Production

Production Company as C.F.F.P. JE BRULE DE PARTOUT (1978)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. LOLA 77 (1977)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. ELLES FONT TOUT (1977)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Les THEATRES EROTIQUES DE PARIS (1975)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Les GLOUTONNES (1975)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. ONZE MILLE VIERGES (1975)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Los AMANTES DE LA ISLA DEL DIABLO (1974)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. LORNA, L'EXORCISTE (1974)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. L' HOMME LE PLUS SEXY DU MONDE (1974)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Les CHATOUILLEUSES (1974)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. CELESTINE, BONNE À TOUT FAIRE (1974)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. TAROTS (1973)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. PLAISIR À TROIS (1973)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. La MALDICIÓN DE FRANKENSTEIN (1973)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. MACISTE CONTRE LA REINE DES AMAZONES (1973)

Sponsor as C.F.F.P. La COMTESSE PERVERSE (1973)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Un CAPITÁN DE 15 AÑOS (1973)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO (1973)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Les EBRANLÉES (1972)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Le JOURNAL INTIME D'UNE NYMPHOMANE (1972)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. DRACULA CONTRA FRANKENSTEIN (1972)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Los DEMONIOS (1972)


Production Company as C.F.F.P. La PHILOSOPHIE DANS LE BOUDOIR (1969)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. MEKTOUB (1969)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. AUX FRAIS DE LA PRINCESSE (1969)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. COPLAN SAUVE SA PEAU (1968)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. CON LA MUERTE EN LA ESPALDA (1968)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. MANDABI (1968)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. KOMMISSAR X DREI GRÜNE HUNDE (1967)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. I FANTASTICI 3 SUPERMEN (1967)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. ROGER LA HONTE (1966)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. MISSION SPÉCIALE A CARACAS (1965)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. JOHNNY WEST IL MANCINO (1965)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. L' HOMME DE MYKONOS (1965)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Les DEUX ORPHELINES (1965)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. COPLAN FX 18 CASSE TOUT (1965)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. La STRADA PER FORTE ALAMO (1964)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Die GOLDENE GÖTTIN VOM RIO BENI (1964)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. MACISTE E LA REGINA DI SAMAR (1964)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. CORIOLANO, EROE SENZA PATRIA (1964)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. COPLAN AGENT SECRET FX-18 (1964)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. L' AMOUR À LA CHAÎNE (1964)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. SANDOKAN, LA TIGRE DI MOMPRACEM (1963)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. I DIAVOLI DI SPARTIVENTO (1963)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Il VECCHIO TESTAMENTO (1963)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. La PORTEUSE DE PAIN (1963)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. ERCOLE CONTRO MOLOCH (1963)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. JUDEX (1963)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. FIGLIO DELLO SCEICCO (1962)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. COL FERRO E COL FUOCO (1962)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. Una REGINA PER CESARE (1962)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. ANNO 79 LA DISTRUZIONE DI ERCOLANO (1962)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. La VENGANZA DI MASCO DE FERRO (1961)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. URSUS E LA RAGAZZA TARTARA (1961)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. I PIANETI CONTRO DI NOI (1961)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. La FURIA DI ERCOLE (1961)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. VENDETTA DELLA MASCHERA DI FERRO (1961)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. ERCOLE ALLA CONQUISTA DI ATLANTIDE (1961)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. La VENDETTA DI ERCOLE (1960)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. La REGINA DEI TARTARI (1960)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. IMAGINATION (1959)

Production Company as C.F.F.P. NAVIRES (1952)

18 July, 2008


How to make an Enzo G. Castellari film: Enzo and his fan... and vice versa.

Enzo in 1967...

Tarantino's version of INGLORIOUS BASTARDS reportedly will begin filming this October...

Hell No, They Won't Go!

INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (1978) is a very entertaining Italian WWII action-adventure, especially when one experiences it via the new Severin DVD presentation. Sharing Disc 1 with the film itself is the featurette A CONVERSATION WITH QUENTIN TARANTINO AND ENZO G. CASTELLARI. Watching the wildly enthusiastic Tarantino gush over the film in the presence of the serene, subdued auteur (who admits he can't wait to see his famous fan's upcoming remake) brought a smile to my face, but not as big as the one Enzo wears. I can't imagine he ever thought his 30 year old knock-off of Robert Aldrich's THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967) would be getting this kind of deluxe digital treatment and be slated for updating by one of Hollywood's most high profile names.

It's endless Enzo on this 3 DISK "EXPLOSIVE" EDITION. Along with the Quentin-Enzo duet Disc 2 contains two documentaries: TRAIN-KEPT-A-ROLLIN', with Castellari, Fred Williamson, Bo Svenson, Massimo Vanni, FX artist Gino De Rossi, the producer and screenwriters, and BACK TO THE WAR ZONE, a locations featurette guided by the still bursting with energy Enzo. Disc 3 presents Francesco De Masi's bombastic soundtrack on a bonus CD. That's a lot, but there's even more... The extras, in this case, may surpass the feature, and the package offers several hours of bliss for the Euro genre gourmet, a delightful journey into a 1970's wonderland with the people who lived and made films there, painstakingly assembled by those who obviously care. The entire package adds up to one of the more impressive presentations of an obscure, decades-old Italian genre film. The feature itself has an audio commentary by Castellari, plus the Mono English track with optional English subtitles.

This is not a review, btw. I have a lot of watching and listening to do first. That will appear on my CINEMADROME DVD REVIEW FORUM when I have finally managed to make it through the feature with the commentary on, not to mention the three documentaries. Consider it a preliminary report...

Is it a great film? After an initial viewing of the feature last night [first time ever since I missed the old DEADLY MISSION and GI BRO video versions] I can immediately say that from its colorfully rotoscoped opening credits to its closing pyrotechnical display it's a helluva good ride, Pilgrim.

(c) 2008, Robert Monell

13 July, 2008


A female predator (Rocio Fexias) moves toward a fateful encounter in Jess Franco's GEMIDOS DE PLACER (1982), a remake of PLAISIR A TROIS (1973), credited as "based on the writings by the Marquis de Sade." The impressive villa where the action is set was owned by the film's producer, Golden Films Internacional S.A. founder/CEO, Emilio Larraga.

Franco has said there are approximately 20 shots in this film, but I have counted over 30 at various times based on my viewings of the old Caliente Video from Million Dollar Video Corporation (cropped at 1.33:1) Spanish language VHS and this 2006 Spanish DVD. This DVD version is part of the CINE EROTICO ESPANOL series- CLASIFICADA "S", licensed from VIDEO MERCURY FILMS S.A., Formato 4:3 [non-anamorphic, and it shows]; Mono; Multizona "0"; DVD5; aprox. 83 min. Genero: Erotica; Boutique Multimedia S.l. Grupo Edider 88, S.L. there's even a Madrid ground mail, and this web address www.internacionaldersa88.com


"Una presumible orgia con un desenlace soprendenta" [or, as I said to Jess when we first met: "Lo siento, no hablo Espanol"]

Back copy: [Un liberal matrimonio quieren probar a realizar un trio sexual con una amiga de ambos. Pero en relaidad la utilizan para matarse el uno al otro con argucias y todo tipo de artimanas. El desenlace es sorpendente."]

Anyone who has seen it knows it's a great film, one of Franco's most personal and experimental works. It unfolds in flashback, narrated by mentally challenged guitar player, Funol (DP Juan Soler Cozar, dubbed by Jess Franco himself]. The extended takes suggest a link to Hitchcock's ROPE, also a story of murderers and their victim. The opening take, zooming slowly back from a yacht in Alicante Bay to pan over the villa, its swimming pool and a floating dead body (cf SUNSET BOULEVARD), is a tour de force.  A tale told by an idiot signifying the corruption of its four main characters, two of whom will die in paroxysms of sexual violence during the course of the film.

This opening immediately recalls the stunning plan sequence which opens Orson Welles' noir masterpiece TOUCH OF EVIL. The constantly probing camera here is as much of a character as the occupants of the villa. Like Hitchcock and Welles, the director wants to make us complicit in the following action, which is a study in casual amorality. The camera is always a voyeur in any film, but Franco takes this concept to its absolute limit here. With very little dialogue and an overwhelmingly toxic ambiance, offset by Funol's wandering guitar improvisations, the film becomes a kind of Sadean daydream ending in death, decay and a silent scream recorded from a final God's-eye camera angle.
 I find this DVD to be lacking in the kind of sharpness, detail, luminosity and color I prefer (cf. Severin's glowing releases of MACUMBA SEXUAL; LA MANSION DE LOS MUERTOS VIVENTES). The opening reel is plagued with visible print damage involving specs, which recurs at reel changes, but it's not very distracting, but it IS there. Also, this doesn't seem to me to be a full 2.35:1 presentation. Maybe closer to 2.20:1. I don't measure these things, but that's my approximation. The only extra is a scene access.

Still, it looks very good compared to the DVD-R's and videos going around, it's acceptable, but not ideal, and, of course, there are no English options of any kind.

So, let's see if there's any interest in a new anamorphic 2.35:1 OAR R1 release w/English subtitles available.

I wish for a new, HD transfer of this. That's why I keep bringing it up here.

Thanks to Francesco Cesari for sending this DVD and the screenshot.

(C) Robert Monell, 2008-2016 [Updated]

11 July, 2008


Lina Romay and Pamela Stanford up to no good in LES GRANDES EMMERDEUSES...

[This is Part 1 of a planned multi-blog on this 1974 sexy-comedy-spy adventure-Eurocrime tidbit. Updated in 2008 from Robert Monell's Jess Franco Archives]

82 MINUTES (NTSC conversion runtime)
[VHS availability: European Trash Cinema (French language tape, U.S. import)]
No known DVD/HD release anywhere.



Tina and Pina, a couple of air headed diamond smugglers (guess where they hide the diamonds?!) travel to Istanbul to fence the jewels, as two secret agents track them. The women are captured by a criminal gang also on the trail of the diamonds. The women manage to elude their pursuers through the use of the oldest trick in the book: sex.

This minor spy/sex comedy-adventure (cf the LABIOS ROJOS series 1960-1967) starts as a semi- hardcore romp with the camera locked in close-up on the private parts of Lina and Pamela as they talk directly to the camera and explain how they eluded ruthless international criminals and got away with a stash of diamonds. Yes, this is yet another interactive, self parodying, no-budget mid 70s Jess Franco sex film with thriller elements thrown in which is very much in the style of THE MIDNIGHT PARTY (1975).

The film is amusing, mainly due to the charms of Lina Romay and the immortal Pamela Stanford (Monique Delaunay), who really ham it up. Franco's telezoom is as active as ever, zooming in on everything from jets passing overhead to more intimate places. Romay spends most the time nude (except for black gloves pulled up to her elbows), while Stanford dons an outrageous wrap-around cat mask and leopard skin tights in order to distract the enemy.

The Eurospy element is confined to the presence of two bumbling agents, played by Franco regulars Bigotini [Richard De Conninck] and Ramón Ardid, who both look like they had a few before each take. Franco recycles the Andre Benichou score from his sexy peplum LES GLOUTONNES (1973). Curiously enough, the music is credited to Robert Viger in that film while here Benichou is listed as the composer. The same haunting theme can also be heard in several other Franco titles from that period, including LE MIROIR OBSCENE (1974), the French version of AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO (1973). It's a delirous round of electric guitar-jazz piano improvisations which delight the ear.

It's fast and doesn't give you a hangover. What more can one ask for? Some would say... a lot more.

A few updated comments on this 1999 review:

Seeing this nearly a decade later made me appreciate Franco's sheer creativity in the face of dire poverty all the more. It looks like this was shot in Super 8mm, or maybe just regular old 8mm! I highly doubt there was a script and most of it takes place in cheap looking hotel rooms (hmmm... where I have seen those rooms before?).

There's even a "monster" who shows up in this. The "thing" is created by yet another evil "Radeck" who uses it to threaten our heroines. It's really just a very ugly guy (I hesitate to use the word "actor").

Jess Franco (who may or may not be playing Dr. Radeck [hey, it's in French and there's a lot of talk and utter confusion throughout!] looks really spaced out or hyped up on something, pacing around yet another sleazy hotel room somewhere in the South of France.

Willy Braque (Guy Peraud), a familiar face from a number of Jean Rollin films (DEMONIACS; LIPS OF BLOOD), is even stranger looking than Jess Franco! This guy looks like he hasn't had a decent meal in his life. In other words, he's perfectly credible as the "connection" Kashfi.
Image may contain: one or more people
Jess Franco's "Istanbul/Turkey" is a hotel room in France.

Above: Pamela Stanford in LES GRANDES EMMERDEUSES (from poor quality video)

Lina Romay and Pamela Standford seem a lot more comfortable nude than most actresses do fully clothed, having a ball running around like hopped-up sprites, playing sexy tricks on the villains and donning bizarre disguises (Stanford has an outrageous wrap-around cat mask which she puts on before going into action). Franco provides a circular, interactive structure by beginning and ending with the ladies assuming sexy poses, teasing the viewer by looking directly into the camera and telling us of how their latest adventure went down. I was particularly amused by a scene of the elephantine Radeck (Victor Mendes) attempting a melancholy tune at the piano in his castle.* This is a typically obscure in-joke which only those thoroughly immersed in Franco's alternate universe will catch on to. Others will stare in wordless amazement that this bleary trifle has even survived. I just kick back and enjoy

*This piece will be familiar to Jess Franco archaeologists. It's also heard under the credits of LE MIROIR OBSCENE and in LES GLOUTONNES (both 1973) and other Jess Franco related titles.

Don't expect to see this on R1 DVD or Blu-rayanytime soon [But you never know...]

And over 20 years on I still can't get over Pamela Stanford's cat mask....

(c) Robert Monell 1999-2017

07 July, 2008

Jess Franco at his CINEMATHEQUE FRANCAISE Retrospective

Thanks to the ever vigilant Latarnia Forum's THE FRANCO LOUNGE for putting up a link to the CINEMATHEQUE FRANCAISE website from which I copied this suite of stills of Jess Franco and Lina Romay being honored by the institution and his fans in June.

It's about time for this well deserved, major retrospective by one of the world's leading film archives.

Jess may need a wheelchair to get around but he looks younger than ever to me!

05 July, 2008




I put on an interesting double bill recently: the new DVD of Freddie Francis' THE SKULL (1965) and the Image DVD of Jess Franco's THE NIGHT OF THE SKULLS [LA NOCHE DE LOS ASESINOS] (1973, the 1976 date on the box is incorrect). I guess I was in the mood for skulls that evening. More to the point, it's interesting how the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe hangs over both films, but in quite different ways.

THE SKULL was based on a Robert Bloch's story "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade", but plays like a Poe adaptation (I haven't read the story which may indeed have been heavily influenced by Poe) while Franco's elegant knock-off (made during a year in which he directed twelve features!) is actually credited as an adaptation of "EL GATO Y EL CANARIO" by Edgar Allan Poe! Of course, that story was written by John Willard, who isn't credited at all onscreen.

THE SKULL concerns the struggles of occult collector Christopher Maitland (Peter Cushing) to gain possession of the titular object which he learns from a sleazy antiques dealer (Patrick Wymark) is the skull of Sade. This is confirmed by his fellow collector Sir Matthew (Christopher Lee), from whom the dealer has stolen the item. Sir Matthew feels well rid of it and warns Maitland to discard it as soon as possible.

This is a tightly plotted (Amicus executive Milton Subotsky's script is a model of economy) Gothic tale which shears off into surrealism as in runs its course. Francis shows, rather than telegraphs, the ominous effect of the skull through a judicious use of voyeuristic set-ups from the first image of the 18th Century grave robbing seen through the bars of a cemetery gate to the last shots showing the police officials investigating Maitland's fate seen through the eye holes of the haunted skull.

Objects gradually take control of the characters in Francis' subverting mise en scene. Consciousness is a prize for a structuring absence of unseen cults operating through the inanimate. Finally being able to see this in 2.35:1 Techniscope reveals a parallel universe which is constantly visually oppressed by antique daggers, candelabra, sculpture, books, fussily arranged displays over which the skull, now able to move on its own, gradually asserts dominion. Francis (a two time Oscar winning DP) and his lighting cameraman John Wilcox really master their scope format arranging eerie compositions with the use of just a colored gel here and a modest special effect there. It's the kind of professional craftsmanship within limited resources which seems rather effortless. The results are equal to the best work that Mario Bava was doing at the same time in Italy.

Francis isn't as well regarded as a director as he was as the cinematographer of THE INNOCENTS and THE ELEPHANT MAN, but his best work, including 1965's HYSTERIA, TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS and THE CREEPING FLESH (both 1973), and this film, suggest that he was a carefully guarded surrealist who knew how to make nightmares look and feel alarmingly real. Two sequences, Maitland's ad-hoc "trial" and his long, final psychic duel with the skull, play almost dialogue free and are all the more effective as pure cinema.

Cushing is in top form, carefully charting the spiritual deterioration of his character, commanding our focus amidst the impressive supporting cast including Lee, Patrick Wymark (REPULSION), Nigel Green (COUNTESS DRACULA), Patrick Magee (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE).

"Earth to bury us...
Wind to scourge us...
Water to drown us...
Fire to burn us..."

Commencing with a reading of the above quote from The Book of the Apocalypse, LA NOCHE DE LOS ASESINO allows Jess Franco the chance to actually stage those Biblical phrases. His camera watches from a distance as a man is buried alive, a woman is tied to a rock on the ocean's shore, another woman is drowned while bathing, yet another is tied up and burned alive. It's all very atmospherically rendered in gas lit period locations.

THE NIGHT OF THE SKULLS is, like THE SKULL, a Gothic thriller, but that's where the similarities end. If THE SKULL captures Poe's feverish subjectivity, Franco's film in unusually dispassionate and impersonal, except for his trademark cameo. It's of one of the director's least delirious films and shows him working in a totally different style than the much more famous films he made in the same year, LA COMTESSE NOIRE and LA COMTESSE PERVERSE. There are few zoom shots and Javier Perez Zofio's camerawork is always in sharp focus, at least for a Jess Franco film. Willard's inheritance thriller provides him a chance to step back and frame his ensemble, including William Berger, Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, Dan Van Husen, Luis Barboo and the always compelling Alberto Dalbes as they play cat and mouse with each other on a dark and stormy night inside the manse of the late Lord Marian.

The 19th Century settings, carefully composed in Techniscope, demonstrate that the director could make a well dressed commercial product when the need arose. Carlo Savina's score is lifted intact from Antonio Margheriti's superior CONTRONATURA (1969), a film in dire need of a proper DVD presentation.

The IMAGE DVD presentation of THE NIGHT OF THE SKULLS looks fine but I wish they had used the vintage Jano artwork for the cover.

(C) Robert Monell, 2008

01 July, 2008


Sun, sand, surf, and sexploitation from the master, Joe D'Amato...Severin's new DVD of Joe D'Amato's rarely seen 1978 Dominican Republic lensed voodoo thriller laced with huge helpings of sex, violence and anti-nuke sentiment!

For more information about PAPAYA DEI CARAIBI:

After delivering his successful Black Emaneulle entries (EMANUELLE IN AMERICA, EMANUELLE AND THE WHITE SLAVE TRADE, EMANUELLE IN BANGKOK, etc) Joe D'Amato was the king of Italian sexploitation. But he decided to the extra mile, to the Caribbean to be specific, and make a series of delirious, low budget collages of graphic cannibal/zombie horror, local voodoo rituals and long sequences of softcore/hardcore sexual encounters. With titles like EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD, PORNO HOLOCAUST, VOODOO BABY, he probably thought he was hitting all the bases, and had successfully combined cannibal gore and softcore sex in the topics with GLI ULTIMI CANNIBALI (1977)

Preceding all the titles was PAPAYA DEI CARAIBI (1978) aka PAPAYA, LOVE GODDESS OF THE CANNIBALS, a pioneering Joe D'Amato attempt to merge gore, mid 1970's softcore sex antics [with some mild S&M thrown in for good measure], elaborate Caribbean voodoo rites, and a surprising dose of Third World politics, all tied up with the rough and ready cinematography in which the DP/Director specialized. It anticipates the symbolic dialectic represented by the paradigm shifting of Fulci's ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS (1979) where the North-South dichotomy of powerful exploiters vs the magic practicing sub proletariat native population gets it ultimate identification package, and also borrows George A. Romero's "when there's no more room in hell..." tagline from his international hit DAWN OF THE DEAD (NOT the remake, please!).

The Ruthless White Capitalists[that's they way the film depicts them] nuclear energy promoting interests who are contracted to displace the local [dirt poor] population to make way for a reactor. This was the era of Three Mile Island and THE CHINA SYNDROME, of course.

Maurice Poli delivers his usual solid performance as Vincent, the hedonistic, smug geologist working as a "company man" and ending up getting seduced to death by our anti-heroine Papaya rather than change like other main white character, Sara (Finnish sex star Sirpa Lane) to a more earth friendly, sympathetic to the plight of the natives agent. The late Ms. Lane does a nicely understated turn around as the action progresses and takes her sex scenes quite seriously.

As the titular PAPAYA DEI CARAIBI, Melissa Chementi is quite hot in the already humid locale, strangely ambiguous and emotionally layered. The only other of her five listed exploitation films on the IMDB I've seen her in is Renato Polselli's ultra-bizarre hardcore mondo Rivelazioni di uno psichiatra sul mondo perverso del sesso (1973), which I dare anyone reading this to retain their sanity while watching (and don't plan to EVER see it on a US DVD!). For a film which begins with our Caribbean princess biting off a visiting nuclear engineer's sex and then spitting it out on the dirt floor of a beach hut as he screams and bleeds to death this is a surprisingly engaging presentation both intellectually and politically. D'Amato was both literally and figuratively Green before Green was the thing to be. The seeming morale, stated by the now radicalized journalist played by Lane, that righteous violence is sometimes necessary to survive might not go down well considering the paranoid age we now live in.

This film has a lot in common with another Italian film featuring Signor Poli as a Capitalist exploiter stuck on a hostile island, Mario Bava's comparatively mild mannered FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON (1970). An excellent electric guitar, sax and percussion driven score with samba and funk elements and a catchy vocal line by Maestro Stelvio Cipriani is alone worth the price, too bad they didn't feature it as an isolated option.

Severin's widescreen 1.85:1/16:9 presentation of CARIBBEAN PAPAYA [onscreen title] is fine considering the low budget soft focus lensing where D'Amato's blend of zip zooms, rapid focal changes, hand held interludes provide both suspense and cost savings. The journey to the secret voodoo ritual chamber makes terrific use of such basic props as an empty rocking chair, a horse drawn carriage and a doll to establish an uncanny sense of dread.

This is one I'll tend to prefer sometimes over the extended hardcore scenes in the later, similar EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD and PORNO HOLOCAUST, which D'Amato shot (competently, as always) on some of the same locations in 1980.

The Ceremony of the Round Stone chapter is worth replaying, merging nudity, gore, ritual dancing and voodoo rites, it exemplifies D'Amato at his very best and you get to see ZOMBIE's Dakar perform the film's only act of cannibalism, it happens quickly but it really makes you jump.

The English language theatrical trailer is included.

Kudos to Severin Films for finding a decent English language print of this obscure title and giving fans of Joe D'Amato and Italian Cannibal/Gore/Sexploitation from the the 70's something to satisfy their "appetites." Having seen an incomplete German
language version which omits the evocative opening with our anti-heroine emerging from the ocean to bask in the Caribbean sunlight in a nonlinear precredit sequence it was a nice surprise to see it restored in this print.

The 1.85:1/16:9 transfer features the best possible [considering the low budget filmmaking on difficult locations] representation of D'Amato's soft focus tropical palette, featuring numerous floral shades, sensuous aquamarine romps and the occasional flash of arterial splatter. Cipriani's memorable soundtrack is well rendered in stereo Dolby Surround.


(c) Robert Monell, 2008