Tuesday, May 23, 2017

VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST (1974) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: The Film Detective

Rating: R
Region Code: A
Duration: 86 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Manuel Caño 
Cast: Aldo Sambrell, Fernando Sanchez, Eva León

This voodoo mummy schlock-epic comes to us from director Manuel Caño (The Swamp of the Ravens) and opens with a pair of sneaky lovers Guedé Nibo (Aldo Sambrell, A Bullet For The General) and Kenya (Eva León, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll) clandestinely meeting on the edge of the water on an Caribbean island, they canoodle in a canoe for a bit before they are caught by her angry father, or husband, I couldn't quite place the relationship honestly. 

Hilariously, and horrendously, both Guedé and Kenya are played in straight-up blackface, and full body, makeup! As they splash around in the surf during the ensuing fight between Guedé and the angry old man the makeup washes off in splotches, right away this movie screams at you, "you're watching a bad movie!". Anyway, the old man ends up falling on a knife, killed by accident, and the Caribbean tribe the lovers belong to punish them for their deadly indiscretion. During a tribal ceremony, in which they are plenty of topless women and tiki torches, Kenya is decapitated and her head is passed around like a morbid sports trophy, while Guedé is poisoned and buried alive in wooden sarcophagus in the bowels of a cave. We're given some awful narration that explains that in one thousand years ...or maybe two thousand, that Guedé Nibo "will seek his beloved, blood will be spilled, everything will start again.", or some such horseshit.

Of course, a thousand years later ...or maybe two, the sarcophagus has been unearthed and is in the possession of Professor Kessling (Alfredo Mayo), it is being loaded onto a luxury cruise ship headed for Port au Prince, and it turns out that narrator wasn't wrong about that blood flowing.  At night the cruise ship entertainment reenacts a tribal voodoo ceremony and sure 'nuff mummified Guedé rises from his sarcophagus and wanders out onto the deck of the ship where he is rejuvenated by the ocean sun, also turning quite a bit whiter than he appeared a thousand years ago, though well-tanned. He also manages to acquire a swanky gold Nehru jacket, which looks conspicuous to say the least. While cruising the ship Guedé recognizes Kessling's assistant/lover Sylvia (Léon) as the reincarnation of hs beloved Kenya, and she too is a few shades whiter than she appeared earlier, I guess we can at least be thankful both were not in blackface for the whole damn movie!

From here Guedé embarks on a murder spree on the cruise ship, he seems to need to kill to maintain his youth, and his victims are aplenty, including decapitating a ship steward who conveniently turns out to be the reincarnated form of the man who lobbed off the head of Kenya a thousand years earlier. Guedé takes the guy's head and places it in Sylvia's bed Godfather style, as a token of his vengeance, which doesn't go over so well with her. 

As the bodies begin to pile-up a local detective arrives on scene, Dominguez (Fernando Sancho, Return of The Blind Dead), perhaps one of the most inept detective of all time, a slob who chooses to sip gin and observe while the blood flows freely around him. The story is also populated by some colorful side character, a thick and attractive fire-eating dancer (Tanyeka Stadler), the clairvoyant Mrs. Thorndike (María Antonia del Río, The Beasts of Terror), whose tarot cards early on predict that a mysterious stranger will bring death aboard the ship, which is true enough.

The whole 70's imhotep on a cruise ship shindig has the feel of a standard issue mummy film, what with the mummy finding the reincarnated form of his former lover in modern times circa '74, the ageless story of a love that spans the ages. I liked the idea that he had to kill to maintain his youthful visage, the make-up effects seems done with sculpted clay and time-lapse photography, its low-budget but somewhat effective. While the movie has few inspired moments on the whole the things is way too corny and kitschy to be taken seriously for long, I mean it begins with blackface, c'mon. At one point Guedé intercepts a science colleague of Kessling's at the airport, throwing him under the crushing wheel of a steamroller, co-opting his identity, which Kessling realizes right away, but Guedé manages to coerce the professor's loyalty by providing him with valuable insights into the primitive past. Perhaps the silliest of the film's numerous silly moments would be when someone goes up against the mummy with a damn fire hose, spraying him down with high-pressure water, too funny, and a WTF ending that has the cops taking a flamethrower to the mummy, burning his intended victim alive in the process, too, no one seeming to care even a little bit that they just flash fried an innocent woman. 

Audio/Video: Voodoo Black Exorcist (1974) arrives on Blu-ray in the proper 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio courtesy of The Film Detective, with a brand new 2K scan of 35mm archival print. Seeing it in widescreen for the first time, after years of public domain pan and scan presentations, was nice even if it's not optimal. The source is soft and has some chunky, even grainy, pocked with print damage by way of green nicks and scratches running throughout.  The dubbed-English audio chores are handled by a DTS-HD MA 2.0 that does the job and that's about it, the score is not very remarkable, but I did dig the fuzzed-out guitar title song from Fernando García Morcillo (The Cannibal Man). There are also optional English subtitles. 

As with all of The Film Detectives Blu-ray releases this is not a pressed disc, but a manufactured-on-demand BD-R, with a professionally printed sleeve. There are not special features, this is a bare-bones disc, not even a trailer. 

Voodoo Black Exorcist (1973) has never looked better on home video, but it is still a bad BAD movie with plenty of kitsch and unintentional humor, cheap special effects and an odd abundance of attractive cinematography. A total trashy 70's horror film loaded with topless tribal dancing and unintentional hilarity, while it's certainly entertaining it just is not a good movie, bad movie connoisseurs should have a blast with this one. 2/5