Image Entertainment presents
Devil's Kiss (La Perversa Caricia de Satán) (1975)
"Fortunately, we had time to hide the coffin and the dwarf."- Claire Grandier (Silvia Solar)
Stars: Silvia Solar, Olivier Mathot, Evelyn Scott, Daniel Martin, Jose Nieto, Ronnie Harp
Other Stars: Wendy Asher, Jack Rochin, Maria Silva
Director: Jorge Luís Gigó Aznar
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexuality, suicide, animal sacrifice, violence)
Run Time: 01h:33m:01s
Release Date: 2003-01-28
DVD ReviewDuring the 1970s, Spain (despite the censorship of the Franco government) had a brief resurgence of interest in the horror genre, best known to American viewers through Amando de Ossorio's Blind Dead tetralogy. But there were others in Spain making the occasional horror opus, among them this French-Spanish oddity by Jorge Luís Gigó Aznar (billed as Georges Gigo), a director of soft-core porn who made this single stab at legitimacy.
Claire Grandier (Silvia Solar) was formerly a countess, but she was dispossessed by the Duke de Haussemont (Jose Nieto), who drove her husband to suicide (as seen in flashbacks). Claire has resumed her career as a medium, and together with her cohort, telepath Dr. Gambier (Olivier Mathot, billed as Oliver Matthau), convinces the Duke to let them conduct occult experiments in his cellar. That this seems like a dubious proposition doesn't seem to sink in with the Duke, and he pays for it. The pair are in actuality determined to create a zombie by reviving a dead body (Jack Rochin) and instilling it with the spirit of Satan. This has its own set of problems, since the zombie is single-minded about killing anyone he sees, and is controlled only by the mental exertion of Dr. Gambier (whose first name is variously given as Romain and Ted). Unfortunately, the doctor has a weak heart and when the ticker finally gives out, mayhem is not far behind.
Although this picture has a certain cult reputation (largely, I expect, due to its status as a lost film for several years), I found very little to like about it. The beginning is tedious, mercilessly padded with dancing girls and fashion models, livened up only by the occasional bit of nudity. The second half is marginally better, once the zombie story finally gets going, but on the whole it's rather silly and illogical. For instance, for some reason, when the maid Loreta (Evelyne Scott) is killed by the zombie, she also returns to unlife, though none of his other victims do. Logic is further thrown to the wayside when the new duke (Daniel Martin) doesn't question who the people are in the cellar and what they're up to, but he and girlfriend Susan (Maria Silva) just wait around to be attacked by the zombie. Apparently the budget only allowed for the one castle set, and everything else, including elementary sensibility, was forced to bow to that economic reality.
The proceedings aren't helped any by stiff performances from the leads. Silvia Solar occasionally shows some sparks of effort, but the stilted dialogue (at least in the English dub) makes that impossible to carry off. Particularly egregious is the zombie, a low-grade Tor Johnson double that doesn't really seem all that threatening. Ronnie Harp is featured as an evil dwarf and generally makes the most of his few scenes, but ultimately he's given little to do besides, well, be a dwarf. Violence is subdued, and there is hardly any gore to speak of. There's little atmosphere and style present, and for the most part a bland Europop score just gets in the way of the film instead of supporting it. I'm generally pretty forgiving of Eurocult horror, but this one had me bored to tears.
(Note: the onscreen title is Devil Kiss; La Perversa Caricia de Satán.)
Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D
|Aspect Ratio||1.66:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture generally looks acceptable, once one gets beyond the dated color and graininess of the source material. Skin tones are rather washed out. Little shadow detail is present, though black levels are generally quite good. Artifacting is minimal and there is some minor damage present throughout but nothing horrific.
Image Transfer Grade: A+
Audio Transfer Review: A pair of 2.0 mono tracks, in English and French, are provided. The principal actors seem to be speaking English, so that's probably the preferred track, but it's nice to have the French track as well. Oddly, the original Spanish release track is nowhere to be found. A bit of noise and hiss and a recurrent crackle are present, but they adequately represent the soundtrack of the period and the low budget. The music, unsurprisingly, is tinny and a bit harsh.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Review: Other than removable English subtitles and adequate chaptering, there's nothing here at all for extras, not even a scrap of liner notes.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA tedious Eurohorror offering, with an okay transfer but nothing whatsoever for extras. Gorehounds will be disappointed by the restrained levels of violence.
Mark Zimmer 2003-02-12