Thursday, May 3, 2018

THE DEVIL INCARNATE (1979) (Mondo Macabro Blu-ray Review)


Label: Mondo Macabro
Duration: 92 Minutes
Region Code: ALL
Rating: Unrated
Audio: Castilian Spanish PCM Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Jacinto Molina
Cast: Paul Naschy, Sara Lezana, David Rocha, Ana Harpo, Blanca Estrada, Irene Gutierrez Caba, Pere Ruiz, Paloma Hurtado

Co-written and directed by Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy The Devil Incarnate (1979) is set in 16th century Spain, we're introduced to the travelling character of Leonardo (Naschy) who at the start of the film meets a fellow wanderer on the road. After striking up a conversation and sharing a few stories the traveler murders the man when he casts aspersion on the story he's just told about his war exploits, Leonardo steals the man's clothing and gold, setting off further down the road on journey of Devilish mischief. Later while sitting next to a trickling stream Leonardo meets a blind man and his young servant Tomás (David Rocha) whom the blind man treats rather poorly. When the blind man asks for water his servant dutifully heads towards the stream to fetch it when Leonardo silently motions him towards him, pissing in the old man's cup and serving it to him, angering the caustic old timer. When the blind man throws a fit Leonardo nearly drowns him in the stream, but 
Tomas asks him not to murder the helpless old man, and agrees to join the traveler on his journey after being promised wealth and riches beyond his imagination, What follows is a series of vignettes which brings the men into contact with various women and men whom are tempted and corrupted by the Devilish Leonardo. 

The Devil Incarnate (1979) is a black-comedy of sorts, you see Leonardo is as the title implies, the Devil made flesh, wandering the Spanish countryside, joining the ranks of mankind and corrupting their flesh and minds to the benefit of himself. Naschy turns in the best performance I've seen from him in this one, a evil bastard who takes great joy in corrupting those he encounters, particularly a string of voluptuous women who willingly give up their bodies to the suave, arrogant, and wild-eyed wanderer, these women include the voluptuous crippled wife (Silvia Aguilar) of a man who gave the wandering duo shelter for the night, and a widowed woman (Sara Lezana) whose daughter is deathly-ill, convincing her to give up her body of he can cure her daughter's malady, which of course does not go as agreed exactly. 

The duo's travels find robbing and stripping a nobleman and his wife and shacking up with some demon-sexed nuns at a convent, though not everything goes according to plan, in one of the vignettes the duo find themselves stripped and robbed themselves, and even then they find comfort in the women of a local brothel who take them in and give them work, where Tomas himself is not-so-surprisingly betrayed by Leonardo, offering the boy to wealthy pervert for a tidy profit, an act that also has some bloody repercussions for the devil-in-the-flesh. The film is a lot sardonic and fun, it's also a bit dark in spots, but if you love lustful euro-cult shenanigans this should be a real pleaser, though don't expect an ultra-violent bloodbath, it's more charming and clever than that, a truly wondrous tale of the Devil among men. 

Audio/Video: The Devil Incarnate (1979) arrives on Blu-ray from the cult-cinema lovers at Mondo Macabro, framed in 1.66:1 widescreen and sourced from a new 4K scan from the original film negative and it looks pretty great, the grain is natural looking and skin tones look good, the lighting in certain scenes can make it look soft but overall this is a fine looking presentation, and the elements are in great shape with no real issues with print damage or rampant white speckling. 

The sole audio option of the disc is as an uncompressed Spanish LPCM Mono with Optional English Subtitles, everything is well-balanced and clean without any hiss or distortion, there are optional English subtitles available as well. 

Onto the extras we get an Exclusive audio commentary by Troy Howarth, who offers a wealth of knowledge about the director and cast, I look forward to Howarth's commentaries on Naschy films the same way I look forward to Stephen Thrower extras on a Jess Franco film, or Alan Jones and Kim Newman on a Dario Argento release, these guys are the experts and always add to conversation and take you deeper down the euro-cult rabbit-hole. 

We also get interviews with Paul Naschy's sons Bruno and Sergio Martino, who walk us through the legend's study, showcasing clippings from his career as both an actor and athlete, speaking of his love for his fans and his craft. Actor David Rocha (who played Tomas) shows up for a 15-min interview speaking about working with Naschym, plus there's a 10-min introduction from Paul Naschy, and a Mondo Macabro trailer reel. The single-disc release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a one-sided sleeve of artwork. 

Special Features:
- Brand new 4k transfer from film negative.
- Introduction to the film by Paul Naschy (11 min)
- Exclusive interview with actor David Rocha (15 min)
- Exclusive interviews with 
Bruno Molina (6 min) 
- Exclusive interviews with Sergio Molina (30 min) 
- Exclusive audio commentary by Troy Howarth
- Mondo Macabro previews

The Devil Incarnate (1979) is well-written and clever, the vignettes are deliciously dark and loaded with betrayals, comeuppance and copious amounts of lovely nude women, plus the film is nicely lensed, giving the film a darkly whimsical fairy-tale quality. If you're a cult film fan, even a Paul Naschy cult-film fan, there's a good chance you haven't seen this one yet, praise be to Mondo Macabro for making it's worldwide Blu-ray debut an auspicious one, truly a film worth seeking out, you won't be disappointed. 

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