Monday, October 24, 2011

DVD Review: THE DEVIL'S KISS (1975)


Label: ArrowDrome
Region Code: 0 PAL
Rating: 18 Certificate
Duration: 89 mins
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, French Dolby Digital Mono
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Jordi Gigo
Cast: Silvia Solar, Oliveir Mathot, Jose Nieto
Tagline: One kiss dragged the dead from their graves...

Arrow Video have unearthed director Jordi Gigo's (EXORCISMO) trashy French-Spanish production THE DEVIL'S KISS from the dusty vaults of Eurocine and spit-shined it for a right proper release through the ArrowDrome imprint, in all it's campy 70's glory to the delight of bad cinema lovers everywhere.

Claire Grandier (Silvia Solar, EYEBALL) is a former Countess turned occult spiritualist whom arrives at the Castle of the Duke de Haussemont's (Jose Nieto, FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR) to attend an awesomely terrible fashion show, you just gotta see it for yourself, it's a frightfully  groovy sight. When she discovers the Duke's desperation to contact his deceased son through occult channels she charms her way into castle following a spooky seance. What the grieving Duke doesn't seem to realize is that Claire is actually out to destroy him in revenge of her late husband's death, he having committed suicide which she blames the Haussemont family for. Once inside the castle walls Claire, along with her co-conspirator Dr. Gruber (Olivier Mathot, REVENGE IN THE HOUSE OF USHER), hatch a diabolical scheme to unearth a fresh corpse, inject it with regenerative micro cells (what?) and call upon the dark powers of Astaroth to possess the corpse which will carry out her vengeance with the assistance of Dr.Gruber's telepathy (Oh! That explains it). Unearthing a recently deceased villager the two macabre nuts carry out their fiendish plan. However, Dr. Gruber is afflicted with a worsening heart condition and as his telepathic powers wane it becomes increasingly difficult to harness the evil inside the blue-skinned ghoul.

The film has an odd cast of deviant characters including a pervy voyeur butler, a lusty maid, a rape-y dwarf and the Duke's douchey playboy nephew, no one is particularly likable here so don't expect to care who dies. There's a lot going on in this rickety Gothic schlockfest, it's crammed with wildly awful 70s fashion, ham-fisted erotic inserts, grave robbery, spooky seances, devil worship, necromancy, zombies and a kitschy retro Euro-sleaze aesthetic candy coated with a thick organ score that at times sounded as if someone had fallen onto the keyboard.

Reversible Artwork
While here's some cool set design going on and cinematography ain't half bad the stiff acting and poorly dubbed dialogue do the film few favors. That said, it tended to be just awful enough to be a good bit of fun. The Gothic atmosphere and kitschy elements just never quite seem to come together in a way that works but as a slice of trashy Euro-sleaze it's a fun watch.

DVD: ArrowDrome's DVD edition of THE DEVIL'S KISS is presented in 16:9 widescreen (1.66:1) with choice of English and French language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with optional English subtitles. The film look surprisingly good even with some minor nicks, scratches and dirt, it's a pretty great print all around and was an unexpected treat. The mono audio while lacking depth and fidelity sounds pretty decent even with some snap, crackle and pop. For the purpose of this review I would occasionally toggle back and forth from English to French during the feature for comparison and I would say that the English dialogue sounds more crisp but the French effects and score sounded a more robust on the whole. Small amounts of print damage and hiss are the least of this film's worries,

The  screener "check disc" from Arrow Video did not include any packaging artwork or the collector's booklet but did include the Eurocine trailer reel which was a pretty great feature. Of the five trailers one that jumped out at me was ZOMBIE LAKE which I've heard so much about but have never watched, it looked wonderfully terrible and I sincerely hope that Arrow Video plan release it through their ArrowDrome imprint, it seems to be very much in the spirit of the grindhouse b-movies we've seen from them thus far and I think it would make a wonderful edition to the ArrowDrome catalog.

Special Features:
- New Booklet by Author Stephen Thrower

Verdict: There's a smorgasbord of cheese-tastic Italian Euro-cult titles floating around on DVD these days but these Spanish co-productions like THE DEVIL'S KISS and THE MAN WITH THE SEVERED HEAD (with Paul Naschy) have been given short shrift, I'm very pleased to see that the Spanish schlock is getting it's due in the UK and elsewhere. If you're a connoisseur of cinema fromage, kitsch and bad b-movies gather your friends and give this a watch, definitely a film that benefits from a roomful of bad movie fans and a couple of sixers. If you're not a fan of bad 70's cinema move on, otherwise get your schlock on. 2.5/5