Thursday, January 30, 2014

DVD Review: BRUTALIZATION (1973)

BRUTALIZATION (1973) 
Label: One 7 Movies
Region: 0 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.77:1) 
Director: Fons Rademakers
Cast:  Bryan Marshall, Alexandra Stewart, Sylvia Kristel

Synsopsis: Sylvia Kristel, of Emmanuelle fame, stars in this nasty rape and revenge thriller in which a gang of wealthy bastards break into peaceful homes and rape the women while forcing their husbands to watch in pain. Inspector van der Walk (Bryan Marshall) a strong-willed police cop, is determined to make them pay for their awful crimes but the members of the gang are bounded by an oath that is linked in some unpredictable ways to some high ranking people in the upper echelon of the Dutch society. Thus begins a painstaking quest for truth and to make sure that the ruthless gang of rapists is put behind bars. But van der Walk has to play against all odds...

Not sure why this one was re titled for it's American release on DVD but its only slightly better known as Because Of The Cats (1973) which is what the title card for the film advertises. This is a Dutch/Belgium co-production from 1973 with the dramatic tendencies of a classic crime procedural with the more exploitative elements of a 70's rape-revenger beginning with a nasty bit of business right at the start. A middle-aged upper crust couple arrive home to discover a group of stocking-masked miscreants have broken in, the youths rape the woman several times over as her helpless husband can only look on in horror as they hurl mean-spirited taunts at him.

Inspector Van der Walk (Bryan Marshall) is on the case, this just one in a series of similar incidents. As the film plays out  it's a pretty straight faced procedural as the inspector sets about sleuthing the crime which leads him to The Ravens - a gang of teenage tyrants, violent, middle class snots with a bit too much time on their hands. There are also female counterpart to the male delinquents, a foul-mouthed cadre of young women known about town as The Cats. Van der Walk investigates and interrogates various suspects which leads him down a path some members of polite society wish he would just abandon. 

The DVD cover would have you believe that this one is a rape-revenger through and through  and while it does to a degree that's just one part of the story, this is way more of a police procedural and it's a bit of a slow burn but I rather like a drawn out story, especially when it goes a bit nutty at the end. The cast is only just decent - no one's pouring themselves into these characters - though it was nice to see a very young and gorgeous Sylvia Kristel (from the Emmanuelle films) here in what amounts to only a peripheral appearance despite what the marketing of the film would have you believe, exploitation indeed.

The film starts of scuzzy with the home invasion and rape but quickly settles into crime thriller mode for awhile before we have a surreal nude swimming orgy/death scene then straight into some fun erotic ritual weirdness. The transition is a bit jarring but I just went with it. Note to cat-lovers, you should be aware that no less than three kitties are skinned, skewered and stabbed to death in short order here - you've been warned. 

Brutalization (1973) comes to DVD from One 7 Movies with an anamorphic widescreen (1.77:1) transfer that quite watchable if unremarkable. Color reproduction is strong but detail and clarity are lacking  plus there's some some unfortunate DNR scrubbing and edge enhancement on display. On the bright side the source elements are in great shape with only minor print damage. Similarly the English mono audio is unimpressive but I dig the funky Ruud Bos score, the only extra is a theatrical trailer for the film. 

Rape-revenge enthusiasts might be disappointed by the lack of the visceral stuff other than the uncomfortable scene at the top of the film as this one tends not to play up the exploitative elements too much, but it's a decent watch. A time slice of Euro-Cult with some sweet nudity and a pretty decent story if not a lot of juice. 2.5 Outta 5 

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