Thursday, July 9, 2020

REVENGE OF THE LIVING DEAD GIRLS (1987) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: Severin Films
Release Date: July 28th 2020
Duration: 82 Minutes 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Audio: French DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono, English Dolby Digital 2.0  with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Pierre B. Reinhard
Cast: Cornélia Wilms, Kathryn Charly, Anthea Wyler, Véronique Catanzaro, Sylvie Novak, Laurence Mercier

Sexed-up French splatter film Revenge of the Living Dead Girls (1986) is a trashy bit of undead fun with a convoluted plot that involves corporate tainted milk, toxic waste, good old fashioned greed and revenge, all wrapped up with oodles of sex and nudity and some surprisingly strong, if shit-looking, low-budget gore, including an undead floozy gnawing some guy's dick off! 

This slice of Euro-sleaze starts off like any cheap porno, with a horny milk-tanker truck driver picking up a woman hitchhiker with a twisted ankle. He helps her up into his cab, looking up her skirt of course, and then a short distance down the road pulls off and takes her into a stone-walled grain silo to make her feel better, wink-wink, which involves giving her some fur-pie finger-love. Meanwhile a mysterious stranger on a motorcycle pulls up to the milk tanker and dumps some sort of orange colored poison into it. In the aftermath three local women dies after ingesting the tainted-milk.

At this same time we are privy to a German chemical company head honcho who is illegally dumping toxic waste from the factory in the ground at the local cemetery, which is where the three milk-poisoned local girls are buried. At that same chemical company the big bosses secretary is going to great lengths to set-up her boss, filming him in the act with a prostitute that she has hired - there's certainly a lot of weird little subplots
happening in this trashy little zombie movie!

As what looks to be a direct result of the toxic waste being dumped at the cemetery the corpses of the three women who dies from drinking the tainted-milk rise from their graves and begin to exact revenge on those who seem to be responsible for their deaths. Now let's take a look at these zombies, for starters they've only been dead a few days at the most and they look like they've been rotting for years down in the dirt. All of their killings are done with a strangely perverse amount of sexuality, at one point even jamming a sword up a women's naughty bits, in a wonderfully tasteless touch after a bizarre lesbian encounter with the undead. The sword-wielding zombie even takes a moment to wipe the blood from the sword blade onto the victim's pubic hair. Another interesting thing to note is that the zombie's faces and skin on their hands are withered and mottled gray, but the rest of their bodies are young and nubile, each with a nice sets of tits might I add, it sort of reminded be of the witch hags from The Beastmaster (1982) which absolutely gave me nightmares as a kid.

All of this is filmed with an aesthetic that can probably be best described as French pornographer attempting to imitate the erotic splatter of something like Jean Rollin's The Living Dead Girl (1982), which seems to be exactly what's happening here, but the end result is something more akin to late-era Bruno Mattie along the lines of Island of the Living Dead (2007).

The zombie and gore effects were done by the late Benoît Lestang, who would go onto work on City of Lost Children (1995), Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) and Martyrs (2008) is This is not his best work, I am assuming he was hampered by lack of experience at this time and what looks to have been a tiny, tiny budget, but they so work in a schlocky
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972) sort of way. There's a shocker twist at the end that very end of the film that also allows for some forgiveness of the zombie effects. At times you can see the actors natural skin peering out through gaps in the rubbery undead face coverings, it's a shitty movie for sure, but it's shitty movie that was never boring.

The shocker sting at the end of this thing is a real WTF-er, I was in stitches when it all unfolded, while surely it was meant to reinforce the corporate greed/comeuppance angle the film had been toying with it stinks to high heaven, a ripe and odorous finale to a wonderful fun shit-film.

Audio/Video: The longer 82-min cut of Revenge of the Living Dead Girls (1987) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Severin Films framed in the original 1.66:1 widescreen in 1080p HD. It's got a bit of white speckling and some frame damage in certain spots, but overall it's a very pleasing presentation with a bit of baked-in softness due to the original cinematography. Audio comes by way of an French DTS-HD MA 2.0 or dubbed-English Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles. Audio is clean and largely free of ear-sores like hiss and distortion, I don't speak French but the loose English dubbed dialogue was never hard to decipher, and the cheesy synth-driven score from Christian Bonneau sounded pretty great.  

Extras are all in French with English subtitles, beginning with the 13-min 'Revisiting the Revenge' interview with late Special Effects Artist Benoit Lestang and producer/writer Jean-Claude Roy from 2005. Topics covered are the casting and filming of the splatter flick, getting into how Lestang came onto the project, a recommend from director Jean Rollin (Zombie Lake), and how some of the gory special effects were archived, with the writer saying that the film sacrificed better actors to allow more money fro the gore FX. Roy does a lot of the talking with the late Lestang kind of looking at him like he's full of shit at certain points.

Director Pierre B. Reinhard sits down for a 22-min interview in 'The Revenge', getting into his early life at university, getting into film as an editor on french porn films, and of course the making of this film and it's locations, plus the many the difficulties of making a low-budget film in a very short amount of time.

The last of the interviews comes by way of an archival 15-min 'Inside Studio Lestang' with the special effects Artist Benoît Lestang from 2008. He walks us around his studio and talks of how he makes latex wounds and nose pieces, experimenting with different latex mixtures, shooting his own short films, the benefits of digital cinematography, his love of horror and in particular John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). The disc is buttoned-up with a three minute trailer for the film and a very brief Easter Egg.   

The single-disc release standard release comes in a black keepcase withe a single-sided sleeve of artwork containing what looks to be a new illustration, the disc itself has a different image on it, looking to be the key art from Severin's limited edition 2-disc release of the film.    
Special Features:
- Revisiting the Revenge - Interview with Special Effects Artist Benoit Lestang and Writer Jean-Claude Roy (13 min) 
- The Revenge - Interview with Director Pierre B. Reinhard (22 min) 
- Inside Studio Lestang - Interview with Special Effects Artist Benoît Lestang (15 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (3 min) 

Revenge of the Living Dead Girls (1986) is a trashy bit of Eurosleaze that wears it's low-budget and bad-acting on it's sleeve, but it goes for the sleazy erotic thrills and cheap gore effects with a lot of gusto, and I love that about it. The standard version Blu-ray from Severin is quite a nice presentation for this cult item, an attractive A/V presentation with some quite good archival extras, and attractive artwork. Severin also released this as a limited edition 2-disc set with a soundtrack CD and reversible sleeve of artwork, but the extras are the same.

More screenshots from the Blu-ray: 

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