Monday, August 29, 2011

DVD Review: SEX, DEMONS AND DEATH (1975)

SEX, DEMONS AND DEATH (1975)
aka DIABOLICAMENTE...LETIZIA
Label: One 7 Movies
Release Date: October 25th 2011
Region 0 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 93 mins
Video: 16x9 Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: Italian Dolby Digital Mono 2.0
Director: Salvatore Bugnatelli
Cast: Franca Gonella, Mirella Daruda, Gianni Dei Vito, Giorgio Bugnatelli
Tagline: Satan's Mistress on a Sex Prowl!



One 7 Movies have done it again, they've unearthed an obscure Italian Eurocult film that has never before had it's day on DVD, that is until now. This one coming from the equally obscure director Salvatore Bugnatelli whom has only five directing credits to his name. His debut is the 1975 psychotronic-sex-occult film SEX, DEMONS AND DEATH aka DIABOLICAMENTE... LETIZIA which tells the at times confounding tale of the wealthy couple of Marcello (Gabrilele Tinio, CUT AND RUN) and Micaela (Magda Knopka, SATANIK) whom are having trouble conceiving a child, it's an emotionally difficult hardship particularly for Micaela who seems to be at sanity's end over the ordeal, spouse Marcello seems more indifferent about the whole thing but to soften the blow over her inability to conceive they decide to pull their niece Letizia (Franca Gonella, A VIRGIN IN THE FAMILY) out boarding school, a place she's been since her parent's death some time prior, and raise her as their own. I don't recall it being said what happened to her folks but given what turns out to be her predisposition for the supernatural chicanery I think we can safely assume they weren't the most natural of deaths on record.

Letizia is pretty cute and though she is supposedly in her teens the actress playing her is probably in her late-20's at this point in her career, regardless of age she is a total sex-pot fully capable of encouraging libidinous urges in both men and women. She has intensely spooky eyes that are quite startling and there's no shortage of close-ups of her oculars throughout the film either. Once she arrives at auntie's home she wastes little time before shedding her clothes and before you know it the house servant Giovanni (Gianni Dei, PATRICK VIVE ANCORA) enters her room and catches an eyeful for a few brief moments before she reveals herself to be a demon or perhaps just a bearded primate of some sort, it's not too dissimilar to the Lady in the Radiator from David Lynch's ERASERHEAD, weird stuff. The shenanigans continue with some sort of telekinetic activity in the form of levitating pillows, which isn't so much weird as it is really stupid, that's something else this film has no shortage off, blatant stupidity.


From this point the film plays out in a string of lurid, somewhat nonsensical scenarios that involve Letizia in various states of undress seducing and corrupting the occupants of the home one by one. These seductions include her uncle who gives inrather easy I must say. There's some sweet 70's lesbian action with house maid Giselle (Karen Fiedler, THE LOVES AND TIMES OF SCARAMOUCHE) and even some incest with dear auntie Micaela! The encounter further unhinges Micaela and stresses the couple's already strained relationship, pretty soon everyone in the housat each other's throats. The shocker finale tends to play down the supernatural elements that came before it but it has a fun trashy giallo twist to it.

At it's core SEX, DEMONS AND DEATH is an Italian knock-off of the hugely successful THE EXORCIST which the Italians were churning out at a steady clip at the time with some trashy erotica and giallo elements thrown into the mix and while the end result is certainly not great it's just trashy and ineptly entertaining enough to make this one a fun watch. There's a fun synth score from Guiliano Sorgini (LET SLEEPING CORSPES LIE, THE BEST IN HEAT) and the cinematography is decent if not on the level of Luciano Tovoli or Vittorio Storaro, the acting is acceptable for the most part with a very decent performance from Franca Gonella as the seductive demon-tart.

DVD: SEX, DEMONS AND DEATH is presented in 16x9 enhanced widescreen (1.85:1) with Italian language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio and optional English subtitles. This marks the films first time on DVD, the transfer
reportedly culled from the last surviving 35mm elements of the film, and it shows. Plenty of print damage, scratches, dirt, cigarette burns and jump cuts. The audio much like the video leaves plenty to be desired but given the obscurity of the film and the fact that this marks it's DVD debut I'm gonna give it a pass. The lone extra consists of a letterboxed trailer (2:30) for the film.  

Verdict: SEX, DEMON AND DEATH is a sleazy good time, it's not for everyone but as Italian knock-offs of THE EXORCIST go it ain't too shabby. Trashy,
psychotronic Eurocult sin-ema for those paddling far past the more travelled waters of Dario Argento, Luicio Fulci or even Sergio Martino, out past the waterways of Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi and into the truly obscure dark waters of Italian exploitation. Not a high recommend unless you're a serious collector of obscure Italian cinema or if you can pick it up on the cheap, it's a bit pricey. Thumbs up to One 7 Movies for resurrecting this one from the grave.

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