Exorcism (US - DVD R1)
Gabe ran out of official Exorcist films so he's moved on to Spanish knock-offs...
A young woman from a wealthy family participates in a satanic ceremony while on vacation. When she returns home she promptly begins acting strangely and people around her start dying in awful ways. Her mother assumes possession, like any good parent would, and brings Paul Naschy the priest in to exorcise the demon.
I really want to speak all manner of great things about all these BCI/Eclipse Spanish horror releases, especially the Paul Naschy films. I want to support the Deimos imprint in their efforts, and I want them to continue sending me these DVDs to review. Unfortunately for both of us, Exorcism was a huge bore. Rarely has there been this much sitting around and taking in what should've been a romp in the bloody and curdled horror daisies.
The people involved obviously wanted to cash in on The Exorcist, but no one seems to understand what made the monster hit special in the first place, or if they do they don't have any clue on how to recreate it. They take a couple of cues (a high society party wrecked by the possessed girl, the sudden ability to communicate in other languages, the cursing, the exorcism scene on the whole), but the movie only really works when it does its own thing, like naked dancing hippies and evil German Shepherds.
The basic formula Naschy and director Juan Bosch seem to have decided on is: talk, talk some more, someone dies, talk until the audience wants to scream, talk a little bit more, someone dies, etc. While these jabber-jaws talk they don't seem to be particularly concerned with the person they're talking about, and this detached nature didn't exactly help my particular attention span.
What the film has in its favour is a terminal case of dated politics, music, and fashion. The loopy young hippies and their drug addled, satanic rituals angle was old hat in the '60s, as was everything they wear. Naschy claims to have written the script years before William Freidkin's film became one of the biggest blockbusters of its time, so perhaps these elements were hold-overs, but I kind of doubt it. I'd like to assume that he was just out of touch at the time.
There are a handful of joyfully bizarre lines of dialogue, but the actors all keep the scenery chewing to a sad minimum, leaving the film bereft of the kind of grade-A ham I've come to expect from Paul Naschy productions. I don't mean it as an insult either, I really do enjoy it, on the same level as a Vincent Price performance.
BCI/Eclipse does another whip smart job here, and has impressed with all four of their 'Spanish Horror Collection' releases thus far. Exorcism, like Vengeance of the Zombies and Night of the Sorcerers, is presented in an un-masked 1.33:1 framing. The colours are bright, blacks deep, and details sharp for the source material, and unlike Night of the Sorcerers there isn't a lot of excess edge enhancement.
BCI/Eclipse makes my job easy again by again supplying both the original Castilian track and a dubbed English track, both in Mono. Just like their other releases, this one is serviceable, though not extraordinary. Distortion does occur on higher registers, but not very often. On the whole the track lacks bass and definition, but that's to be expected from an older and cheaper mono source.
Mr. Paul Naschy supplies us with another video introduction, and once again he revels in the corniness of it like a pig in slop. It's always a pleasure to see a happy ham in his element. This introduction gives way to the film, which gives way to an elongated interview with Pauly. The interview ends up covering a large expanse of Naschy’s finest films, rather than Exorcism alone. My guess is that these are all films that BCI/Eclipse holds the release rights to (and they seem to coincide with the recent German special editions, so I'm hoping to get a better copy of Hunchback of Rue Morgue someday soon). The interview comes complete with clips, and is full without being overlong.
Also adorning the disc are the usual alternate clothed sequences, made to avoid censorship during the film's Spanish release. In collaboration with these scenes are the original Spanish credits, a trailer, an outstanding gallery of poster and video art, and more liner notes from writer Mirek Lipinski.
I’m thinking Exorcism is a skip for all but the most impassioned Naschy enthusiasts. It comes down to the film’s lethargy, which seems to know no bounds. BCI/Eclipse has done a fantastic job with the video, and the Naschy interview is entertaining. Collectors may want to pick it up for stockpiling purposes, and skip to the exorcism scenes with a room full of rowdy friends. Next of BCI/Eclipses list is Horror Rises from the Tomb, another Naschy flick I’ve yet to experience.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 21st August 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Castilian
Extras: Paul Naschy Introduction, Alternate Clothed Scenes, Spanish Credits, Trailer, Stills, Liner Notes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Juan Bosch
Cast: Maria Kosti, Grace Mills, Maria Perschy, Jacinto Molina
Length: 89 minutes
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