Bathor, the great vampire conqueror and provider of peace, had established a serene vampire village, driving out disorderly vampires from impeding conventions and rules. After two millennia, civil unrest has stricken the village. A plague has struck the male population, leaving nasty sores that disfigure their faces. With a religious and superstitious, power hungry megalomanic named Grando exploiting the plague and the name of Bathor, an uprising cult of desperate men seek to destroy all Bathor’s female vampires thought to be the cause of the mens’ ill misfortune. Lovers Élisabeth and Fantine survive brutal attack after brutal attack with the aid of banished vampires and the hunted vampires attempt a last chance endeavor to quickly preserve their once lost belief system instilled by the great one, Bathor, and rid the lands of Grando once and for all!
“Blood of the Tribades” is the 2016 homage powered, melodramatic social commentary vampire film from co-directors and co-writers Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein. As much as a micro-budget film as “Blood of the Tribades” is on paper, certain important attributes surface through the money constraints and convey a larger footprint such as elaborately classic locations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York that bring out the beauty in penny-pinching productions. Another notable quality from “Blood of the Tribades” is the large cast that exemplifies the scale of the story by tenfold and with an abundance of roles, there will follow a plentiful of deaths in a vampire film. Truth be told, Cacciola and Epstein’s film doesn’t have one single human in the bunch. That’s right, “Blood of the Tribades” is 100% vampire casted. Which, come to think of it, do vampires drink their own kind? In this film, the answer is yes and, as well as, staking their own kind.
Associate producer Chloé Cunha stars alongside another associate producer, Mary Widow, as the lesbian vampire couple Élisabeth and Fantine who seek to thwart Grando’s unwitting and cultish coup d’état. The characters represent two different, and well crafted, styles of vampiric women that are the dream-like, wanderer, such examples are pulled from films by Jean Rollin (“Fascination”) or Jesus Franco (“Female Vampire”), as well as the hard-nose, dark seductress from Hammer films that channel some great actresses such as Ingrid Pitt or Barbara Shelley. Cunha and Widow perfectly capture the essence of the distinctive styles more so than I could have ever thought possible. Élisabeth and Fantine are pitted against one of the more over-the-top performances of a villain I’ve seen in a while. Grando’s presence amounts to every inch of the screen from a very talented Seth Chatfield, who not only becomes a clear cut antagonist but does so with infectious enthusiasm. Topping of the main characters comes Bathor, who only receives a handful of screen time minutes. Tymisha Harris meshed well with the outlined characters, being equally extravagant in her own manner, and delivering the power Bathor must bestow upon her children. Kristofer Jenson, Zach Pidgeon, Stabatha La Thrills, Sindy Katrotic, Simone de Boudoir, and Dale Stones, plus many, many more, round out the cast.
Actually, “Blood of the Tribades” is a feminist movie that just happens to have vampires. Male oppression to keep the women from being themselves, from being outspoken, and from being open with their sexuality is clearly combated through the social commentary symbolism. Plus, touches on the suppression of sexuality and the outward projection of a society forbidden love, but however exposed the feminist versus complacency and closeted angst message might be, the script’s dialogue, despite the film’s 78 minute runtime, is extremely long winded with an unapologetic amount of exposition to explain the messages in various scenes where dialogue is not needed; one of the early scenes, with a man peeping outside the window of a very naked woman bathing before shooting an arrow through her bloodsucking heart, had the right message with that actioned a tone conversing the unspoken subplot of men against women. There’s also no telling which time period, or even universe, the story is set with various era styled garments from conservative nightwear, to bright red band-leader tops, to skin-tight, scantily night club outfits. The latter felt really out of place with Sindy Katrotic’s fighting wear.
Production company and distributor, Launch Over, presents “Blood of the Tribades” on high definition Blu-ray and is available for pre-order before the April 30th release date! Image quality of the 1080p picture, despite the number of filters used, still manages to pull off balanced and vivid hues of the forest and castle rooks, skin tones look too good for the plague makeup’s own well being, and thick black tones highlight the right amount of mise-en-scene without much aliasing or compression issues. Bonus features include a theatrical trailer and an in-depth behind-the-scenes with interviews from the directors, cast, and crew. Chock full of nudity and delivering a high body count, “Blood the Tribades” is an adoring, beautiful, and slightly satirical homage to the multifaceted 1970s female vampire by way of dogma masculinity and righteous fanaticism that isn’t far skewed in reality’s present day!
Struggling to survive the conditions of the outside world, a brother and sister locate shelter inside a desolated complex and stumble upon it’s strange inhabitant, a solitary middle-aged man named Mariano with a penchant for welcoming his insanity. The alcohol distilling and isolating embracing Mariano has a twisted offer for harboring the young siblings as he also puts the two to work, constructing Mariano’s trash-ridden home into a cavernous structure from taped scraps of lumber and cardboard. Mariano desperately needs them to explore unorthodox depravities upon themselves to become one with their unhinged host that forms, in more than one way, one flesh-ravenous happy family.
“We Are the Flesh,” aka “Tenemos la carne” in the original title, is an experimental art house feature from controversial Mexican director Emiliano Rocha Minter. The 2016 film harbors more than just three hermit individuals dipping their toes into a forbidden pool of acts, but also provides numerous metaphors and symbolisms that might be hard to swallow and difficult to sit through during the 79 minute runtime. “Sin Nombre” actor Noé Hernández stars as Mariano and there isn’t enough praise in the art house world from his performance that consumes his mortal being, transforming him into a well oiled psychotic machine with a blazing stare, a certifiable grin, and a defined muscular physique. Hernández steals scenes left and right from his young and novice co-stars María Evoli and Diego Gamaliel, whom are equally as brave as the more experienced Hernández in their respective roles. “We Are the Flesh” emits racy undertones by just hearing the title alone and, absolutely, lives up to the title’s very core by displaying non-simulated sex acts. Think about it. Minter’s film only has three main characters for most of the narrative and two of them are siblings. Yup, Minter went the incest route for the sake of art.
In the opening scene, heavy breathing creeps upon a black screen until the image pops open to a Mariano’s face, laboring over something. Next cut is Mariano hunched over with a high stack of baled cardboard, walking in the color tone of a dark cool blue with a slight haze engulfing him. This opening scene is one instance where Mariano is portrayed the Messiah prophet Jesus. Other religious symbolistic events that connect Mariano, who would be condemned for his actions in the Christian scope, to Jesus that occur throughout, such as being dying and being reborn, the cave aspect, the motifs of faith from the mysterious eye dropper liquid, and being the sacrificial body as if transpiring to be some sort of demented wafer during a crazed cannibal communion orgy. Of course, opening anybody’s eyes or mind to this notion can be immensely difficult and profanely sacrilegious to even spell it out in text because seeing the streaming drug use, the attempted murder, the cannibalism, and the sibling incest rule the majority of the narrative makes a case that affiliates more with an unholy antichrist rather than Christ, but I believe director Emiliano Rocha Minter, being a Mexican national and growing up in a Catholic, like the majority of Hispanics, culture aimed to blur the lines between the heavens above and the fires below and embodying them as a singular whole.
Intrinsically irrational and insatiably grotesque, “We Are the Flesh” has momentum in a colorfully abrasive form, quickly evolving from act to act with characters reemerging anew every second onscreen. What might seem as a visionless quest for the sole purpose of producing shock value can be re-construed as a message more aesthetically beautiful in man’s most detested nature. Yollótl Alvarado’s cinematic vision is absolutely dripping with gripping, mature atmospherics that are well doused in vividness while, at the same time, being despairing in a post-apocalyptic haze. The experience charges at you, pulls you into this cavernous womb, and scratches at your tender barrier lining, trying to sneakily slip into your soul. The sensation is as much unreal as the film’s avant-garde structure.
Produced by production companies Piano, Detalle Films, Sedna Films, Estudios Splendor Omnia, and Simplemente, “We Are the Flesh” is a poetic approach experimental wonder, gratifyingly brought to home entertainment fruition from Arrow Films in the United Kingdom and Arrow Films, in conjunction with MVD Visual, in the United States on Blu-ray and DVD. Between Lex Ortega’s brutal social commentary gore-flick “Atroz” and Emiliano Rocha Minter’s art house metaphor “We Are the Flesh,” Mexican filmmaking stands high and bold, unafraid to tell unapologetic stories in conservative societies; a mere taste of what’s to come, I’m positive. While recommending this type of film isn’t the easiest for status quo movie lovers, “We Are the Flesh” hopefully will expand minds, open eyes, and encourage skin-on-skin contact for the cinematic adventurers.
On the countryside of a 19th century central European empire, Crown Prince Rudolf resides at his manor estate with his nanny, faithful servants, and armed guards. However, the Prince abstains from being stately and goes against his father’s, the Emperor’s, wishes. Instead, the pan-sexual Prince frolics through life with his two lovers, his half brother and half sister. Their apathetic about the Emperor’s inclinations and enjoying the carnal pleasures, juvenile games, and the ecstasy of free-spirit inducing drugs with their communal aristocratic friends and feral manor servants. The Prince plans to humiliate his stern father by hosting the biggest festivity with dancing and champagne, laced with uppers that has his guest losing their clothes and parading amongst the grounds in a merry-go-round of uninhibited jovial madness that sends his the Prince’s father into an uproar that calls for the execution of his son and his lovers.
The 1976 “Public Vices, Public Virtues” is a circus of eroticism with a belly full of symbolism and ambiguity. Hungarian director Miklós Jancsó has developed a masterpiece from a script co-written with Giovanna Gagliardo that’s loosely based off the infamous 19th century murder-suicide known as the “Mayerling Incident,” which involved Prince Rudolf, the Crown Prince of Austria and the son of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. Jancsó, called “the greatest Hungarian film director of all time” by his peers, maintains elements of the tragically historical event and morphs it into a melodramatic comedy penned with singsongy dialogue and communicated through various performances of the arts.
Fellow Hungarian Lajos Balázsovits encompasses the lead role of Prince Rudolf who ravages the screen with a lighthearted and uncut male nudity performance that sets an artistic and ethereal tone of beauty, of love, and of revolt. Alongside Lajos Balázsovits comes cult actors such as Tinto Brass regular Franco Branciaroli (“The Key,” “The Voyeur” which he was spectacular), Teresa Ann Savoy (“Salon Kitty,” “Caligula”), Laura Betti (“A Bay of Blood”), and “Night Sun’s” Pamela Villoresi to be at Jancsó disposal to be free to unclothe in a joyous protest against a ruthless and steely ruler. The mutton chops of Emperor Franz Joseph make a resembling appearance as part of the lucrative backdrop for the boisterous sexual revolution that stormed the cinema markets and Balázsovits fully submerges into a pan-sexual role, gladly submitting himself to women, men, and even his goggly-eyed Nanny, Laura Betti, who gets to touch the royal scepter in more ways than one.
The co-produced Italian and Yugoslavian “Public Vices, Public Virtues” has an astonishing production value for soft core erotica. The elaborate, detailed wardrobe and authentic appeal to recreate the 19th century era is stunningly breathtaking and highly infatuating to be in the midst of an amorous atmosphere. With the costumes and manor home, the cash flow trends toward the amount of extras casted to prance and dance in an everlasting parade of jubilance. “Inglorious Bastards” and “The New York Ripper” composer Francesco De Masi displays his brass, as in brass instruments, continuously conducting a marching tune to the aristocratic orgy that doesn’t attest to a viewer allurement, but does put into place a bit of pizzaz into the melodrama. De Masi’s soundtrack compliments the nursery rhymes and classical scores that round out this Filmes Cinematografica and Jadran Film production.
Proclaimed the wild side of world cinema, Mondo Macabro releases “Private Vices, Public Virtues” on a glorious restored and uncut Blu-ray region ABC release. The original negative restored and transferred to a single layer BD25 displays a vibrant 1080p and progressive widescreen presentation. I’m amazed at the retaining of the natural coloring, the amount of spacial depth, and prolific details that doesn’t display a hint of compression artefacts and maintains very low digital noise interference, especially in the black levels. The LPCM audio contains an English dub track and an Italian track with optional English subtitles on both. The digitized analog audio clearly expresses itself without hisses, pops, or other types of disruption. Mondo Macabro stuffs this Blu-ray with exclusive bonus material including three interviews with writer Giavanna Gagliardo, actress Pamela Villosesi, and film historian Michael Brooke. The original theatrical trailer and Mondo Macabro previews bring up the bonus feature rear. “Private Vices, Public Virtue,” to the naked eye, is 104 minutes of a frisky spectacle of the utmost buffoonery, but in the trenches, the Miklós Jancsó film is a Hungarian filmmaker’s undercurrent of inspiration and revolution against oppression and Mondo Macabro just highly defined the era!
A young and beautiful butcher shop assistant succumbs to the middle-aged butcher’s sexual advancements and fantasies at the workplace after she catches glimpses his sorrow, but when the butcher ends up naked on the shop’s floor with his throat cut, the assistant becomes the number one murder suspect for an inspector who coincidently looks almost identical to the deceased butcher. As the investigation deepens into the assistant, the inspector’s solemn, solitary life blurs to an assimilation into the butcher’s and his suspect turns from being a prime target to being a crucial part of the his physical and mental altering integration into the dead butcher.
“Meat” is a powerful transcending film seismically barreling through a Lynchian structure consigned to provoke the consequences of unhappiness and the consequences of poor choices during unhappiness. Directors Victor Nieuwenhuijs and Maartje Seyferth have orchestrated a moderately expressionistic arthouse Dutch drama told in a spiraling sexual context. The meat in “Meat” and the sex in “Meat” clearly share a correlation, peppered as motifs from start to end, and the positive and negative dimensions of the two are so obscured that pinpointing the differences between them are impossible, but both are for sure the last hope for the butcher and his assistant Roxy to embody the essence of sex and meat for opposite reasons. Whereas Inspector Mann simply drags wholeheartedly through his existence, expressing his numbness toward his mundane job and harshly breaking up with his lover without an ounce of compassion. Its until the butcher’s case lands in his lap does the Inspector shows signs of life again.
If you notice that lead actor Titus Muizelaar’s dual roles have purposefully generic labels. The butcher is credited as just the butcher while the Inspector has a proper name, but the name Mann is just as indistinguishable as if the character was christened Guy. The synonym character was intended for blending, to blur their personas, and to transform one into another. To explore the transformation, “Meat” begins a parallel between the butcher who, in a metaphorical sense, has his cake and eats it too and the inspector painstakingly limps from one spot to another. A contrasting experience between the two firmly establish their individualities. Then, the film shifts gears midst a catalyst with the butcher’s mysterious death, forcing the female assistant, an uninhibited role performed uninhibitedly by Nellie Benner, to be the resilient gateway for the inspector. Third gear shifts into the inspector being more and more intrigued, if not extremely envious shown very subtly, by the butcher’s seemingly unchained facade. Each character emits an expressionless stature with a deep-rooted ugliness burrowed inside and each desire a change in their turmoiled lives, whether it’s sustaining love, seeking love, or able to love in order to battle every aspect of oppressive depression.
The uncomfortable open and intimate relationship between the butcher, Wilma Bakker’s Tiny, and the shop owner and the psychosexual workplace harassment involving the enthusiastic, video-documenting assistant filets the juicy bits from the bone with numerous innuendoes and explicit carnal exhibitions taking brazen residence within the animal blood stained walls of the butcher’s small meat market. You’ll never look at steak, pork chops, and leg of lamb the same way again! Only when “Meat” transitions into that second gear does the erotica becomes less erotic and more forced and horrifically exploitive. Scenes of undisclosed rape and of blatant genitalia speak upon that aforementioned correlation of raw meat and sex; no choice is given to the cow when the cow is killed and slaughtered for the cow’s delicious beef and the same can be said in sex as it’s taken without much consent and it’s being reaped for the benefit of others.
Graphically infrasexual and skewed beyond simplicity, “Meat’s” refreshingly loaded with unpleasantries and basted moistly with an outer layer of perversion that drips into an oven of thriller surreality. The Artsploitation team lives up to the moniker by, after being long overdue, crafting a home video release of 2013’s “Meat” aka “Vlees” onto DVD and on digital home video. The digital screener provided for review doesn’t give much insight into the audio and video qualities or speak to the testament of the special features. However, “Meat” is a phenomenal film that’s well-aged and ready to be rubbed, tenderized, devoured in all senses of the meaning.
New York City hospitals are being terrorized by a crazed maniac or maniacs stealing the body parts of the deceased and local authorities are discovering the half eaten remains of torn apart bodies in the streets. When a medical orderly is caught in the act of cannibalism by nearly devouring a corpse’s heart and then commits suicide by diving out high rise window, the Doctor’s assistant and leading anthropologist Lori Ridgeway recognizes the tattooed symbol of Kito on the orderly chest, a symbol from a long forgotten tribe in the Moluccas Islands. Worshipping a cannibal God, the primitive tribe still practices the form of anthropophagy. Lori’s colleague, Dr. Peter Chandler, has been placed on a research team to root out New York City’s recent cannibal problem and when the Kito symbol clues him and his team of a possible lead, an expedition team forms to travel to the Moluccas Islands in search of the existence of inhabitants. Dr. Chandler rendezvous with a long time acquaintance, Dr. Obrero, whom has lived on the islands for years. When Dr. Obrero arranges a boat and his right hand man to accompany the expedition, Dr. Peter Chandler and team step foot into a hellish nightmare, bloodied with unspeakable and aggressive cannibal acts. Just when nothing could be worse than flesh hungry cannibals, hideously disfigured zombies frighten even the primitive locals. The island holds a dark secret and Dr. Chandler aims to unveil it no matter the cost!
Finally! The definitive 2-disc edition of Aquarius Releasing’s “Doctor Butcher, M.D.” aka the Italian cut “Zombie Holocaust,” from the Flora and Fulva Film production companies, has been released and, oh, how glorious the Severin Films release is with a super sleek Blu-ray reversible cover art – “Doctor Butcher, M.D.” title as the main cover and “Zombie Holocaust” title on the reverse side – and the high definition gore that hasn’t been gooier and oozier than ever and all in thanks to the upscaled 1080p full HD resolution transfer. Uncut with eye-gouging effects, eviscerated and mangled bodies, and packed with a slew of medical terrors and oddities, the Marino Girolami’s directed video nasty from 1980 just might get itself banned once again by the international censorship boards.
The schlock runs thick through a plot that’s eerie similar to Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (aka Zombie 2) with many of the locations and sets repurposed for the Girolami picture involving exotic land cannibalism, a mad scientist, and, you guessed it, zombies. Yet, “Doctor Butcher M.D.” rightfully receives being a detached entity, an “Annabelle” to “The Conjuring” of sorts, even when both films star Scotland-born leading man Ian McCulloch. With uncanny and grisly disemboweling special effects that turn a stomach inside out and give you a reason to make use of that barf bag provided by Severin Films as a bonus insert, some death effects didn’t go quite as planned such as, in example, when the cannibal orderly dives out a multistory window and the stunt-dummy loses an arm when crashing onto the floor. The next scene has the actor, with arm intact, lying in a pool of blood. Another scene involving Doctor Butcher and his cranium saw nearly doesn’t sell the effect when the saw itself isn’t spinning at all during close ups of a cranium cap removal. However, none of these miscues matter as the rest of the special effects trumps any other gore film of this decade.
The American bought rights to “Zombie Holocaust” were destined to be re-edited as the film had to bulk up on Americanized tastes, slightly targeting specific, well versatile audiences of New York City’s infamously sleazy and exploitive 42nd Street, which is now defunct. The additional and pointless scenes that were intercut from a scrapped Roy Frumkes’ horror anthology, “Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out, at the beginning of the film didn’t transition seamlessly enough to cause an unfavorable reaction, but only added on to the powerful zombie train that spawned from George A. Romero and the Living Dead films. The antics of Terry Levene, an American producer and 42nd Street icon, led to guerilla marketing, an overlapping score from the late “Blood Sisters'” composer Walter Sear, and the superbly cut trailers had guaranteed butts in the seats at Levene’s, amongst others’, circuit theaters. Plus, the T&A from cult Italian actress Alexandra Delli Colli might have had something to do with putting butts in seats as well.
The story hadn’t changed much between the alternate film versions of the Romano Scandariato screenplay and the story itself is wound looser than a turn of a century Gary Busey. Thin motivations drive characters to do the stupidest things possible such as go on an expedition to a cannibal island, go to a cannibal island without state of the art weaponry and more bodies than a modern day NFL football roster, or go straying away from the safety of your group to stroll through the island’s bush alone. The obviousness is aggravating to say at the least, but omit the blatant stupidity of the characters and no one would die a horrible and gruesome death that fastens our morbid tastes to the screen. The story’s spontaneous and adventurous nature appeases thrills of a long-lost culture on an island of hell that’s ready to be explored and re-discovered and ready to taste fresh blood and organs once again.
Severin Films have outdone any previous release of the reconfigured “Doctor Butcher, M.D.” and the original “Zombie Holocaust” when discussing the video presentation. The 1080p performs at a high bitrate with a vibrant display of natural colors that diminish much of the natural grain and negative damage and exhibits finely tuned and leveled darker tones from the original 35 mm negative; a HD presentation that, and this goes without saying, naturally outperforms the the transfer from Shriek Show’s “Zombie Holocaust” DVD release in the early 2000s. The English DTS-HD Master 2.0 audio mix on “Doctor Butcher, M.D.” performs greatly without many given distortions or loss of audio while the “Zombie Holocaust” on disc two has the same DTS-HD Master option, but also gives an alternative with a linear PCM Italian only audio mix without subtitles. Walter Sear’s Stateside score and Nico Fidenco Italiano score tribute their respective nations clearly through the mastered audio mixes with Fidenco’s score surfacing here and there on the Aquarius Releasing edit. Severin Films provides an impressive list of new bonus material on each disc, with the first disc having insightful interviews with Aquarius Releasing’s Terry Levene, editor Jim Markovic, filmmaker and documentarian Roy Frumkes, “Temple of Schlok’s” Chris Poggiali, Gore Gazette editor and Butcher Mobile rider Rick Sullivan, and Gary Hertz all discussing their involvement “Doctor Butcher M.D.” and their ties to 42nd Street. The second disc focuses more on “Zombie Holocaust,” interviewing male lead Ian McCulloch and McCulloch sings “Down by the River” in another segment, FX masters Rosario Prestopino and Maurizio Trani, actress Susan Buchanan, and a look at New York City then and now piece where “Zombie Holocaust” shot certain scenes.