Thursday, December 28, 2017

THE DEVIL'S HONEY (1986) (Severin Blu-ray Review)


Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 83 Minutes 
Audio: English and Italian LPCM 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Lucio Fulco
Cast: Brett Halsey, Corinne Cléry, Blanca Marsillach, Stefano Madia, Bernard Seray, Lucio Fulci, Stefano Madia

I do believe Lucio Fulci's career and health were in steady decline by the time he made this previously little seen erotic-shocker in '86, the story begins with a tale of a two sex-obsessed lovers, that of Jessica (Blanca Marsillach) and her professional saxophone player boyfriend Johnny (Stefano Madia). The two engage in a LOT of sex, the most startling being Johnny sexing up her coochie with some saxophone playing in the recording studio, with his sax-hole cupped over her thonged crotch while playing some deep notes to her even deeper delight - it is some seriously strange stuff. You have to hand it to Fulci, he new his way around a horror movie but he also knows how to delight in this perverse erotic thriller.

As the story builds we see that Jessica is a somewhat unwilling participant  to Johnny's increasing strange sexual proclivities, but it's not a rape scenario, he's just forceful but she comes around, she's definitely participatory, it's not a Harvey Weinstein situation so don't be alarmed. Throughout the opening scenes they engage in a motorcycle-hand job excursion that nearly climaxes with a head-on collision, as well as some sloppy tongue-darting on a rollercoaster, and forceful anal-sex on a staircase while a German Shepherd feverishly looks to get in on the backdoor action.

There's also a story running parallel to that of the young couple, we have the rocky marriage of surgeon Dr. Wendell Simpson (Brett Halsey, Touch of Death) who is stuck in an awkward marriage to his wife Carol (Corinne Cléry, Yor, the Hunter from the Future). The surgeons wife is deeply unsatisfied by their love life, and less than pleased when she discovers her husband has been frequenting prostitutes on the side, and judging by what turns him on with the whores his wife might be lucky he's just not that into her, trust me, they'd rack up some huge nail polish and nylon stocking bills. 

The two stories converge when Johnny falls of his motorbike and bangs his head on a rock, at first the injury seems none too serious, but later that night he falls unconscious and ends up on the docs operating table. It just so happens that the surgeon's wife has asked for a divorce right before the doc enetered surgery, he becomes distracted during the operation and Johnny dies as a result. Afterward Jessica blames the doc for her lover's death and begins to obsess over her dead lover, phoning the doc and leaving him accusatory/threatening notes.

Eventually she loses it kidnaps the doc, chaining him up in the basement of a seaside mansion owned by her dead lover, proclaiming that she will kill him or let him die of his own will, but only when she wants him too. In her grief and derangement her revenge involves serving the surgeon dog food, reciting some awful poetry, dripping hot candle wax, licking his own blood of her tummy, and eventually  turning into sexual revenge, with the doc becoming her submissive love interest in a way. While all this is happening we are treated to flashbacks of Jessica and Johnny that further flesh out their sordid relationship, including a bizarre trip the local cinema that results in a oddball bi-sexual threesome, much to the chagrin of Jessica.

This is not the sort of film I think most people think of when they think of Lucio Fulci, what we have here is a slice of erotic weirdness loaded with glossy, music video esque 80's cinematography, but there's little doubt that this one offers up entertainment of the lurid kind, bathed in a that ever-present Fulci aesthetic. Blanca Marsillach is quite good as the deranged lover, appearing largely nude for much of the film, there's more to her than just a hot body, her descent into sexualized madness is enthralling to a large degree. Brett Halsey is also quite good, he's certainly down for whatever Fulci's erotic shocker throws at him, this being a considerably film that the films he would appear in with Fulci, that being Touch of Death (1988) and Demonia (1990), both considerably lesser movies in my opinion.   

Audio/Video: The Devil's Honey arrives on Blu-ray from distributor Severin Films - advertised as being a scan from the original negative, framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. The results are grainy and soft, the image is soft-focused, not lending itself to copious amounts of fine detail. Audio comes by way of two lossless English LPCM Mono 2.0 with optional English subtitles, the English dub sounds a bit anemic while the Italian track is more robust, though neither are notably powerful, the Caludio Natili (Velvet Dreams)score comes through nicely though.  

Even though this is a bit of an odd-duck in the Fulci filmography Severin have gone all-out with the extras, we have new interviews with actors Brett Halsey, Corrine Clery, producer Vincenzo Salvianai and composer Claudio Natili adding up t about 41-minutes in length, impressive. Additionally we get a 21-min appreciation by Stephen Thrower, a 17-min audio essay by author Troy Howarth, alternate opening and a trailer for the movie. 

This single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversdible artwork, one being decidedly more nipply than the other! 

Special Features:

- The Devil’s Halsey: An Interview with Actor Brett Halsey (7 min)
- Wild Flower: An Interview With Actress Corinne Cléry (12 min)
- Producing Honey: An Interview With Producer Vincenzo Salviani (13 min)
- The Devil’s Sax: An Interview With Composer Claudio Natili (10 min)
- Stephen Thrower on The Devil’s Honey (22 min)
- Fulci’s Honey: An Audio Essay by Troy Howarth – Author of  “Splintered Visions – Lucio Fulci And His Films” (17 min)
- Alternate Opening (3 min)
- Trailer (3 min) 

The Devil's Honey (1986) is a strange one, an erotic thriller from one of Italy's finest purveyor's of gore, Fulci really ratchets up the sleaze-factor here, it's not a horror film but it is truly horrific in many ways, I might never be able to wash that sax-sex scene out of my eyes!

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