Night of the Sorcerers, The (US - DVD R1)
Gabe is currently accepting high-fives from everyone that loves faux-fur bikinis
Bumbasa, Africa, 1910—a group of dancing natives whip, defile, and behead a European woman. These baddies are quickly shot dead by some English soldiers, but not before the woman's severed head comes back to life and reveals a sharp set of canine fangs. Cut to modern day Bumbasa. Another group of Europeans arrive near the same location to study the wildlife. The congregation’s busty females begin disappearing, then reappearing in slow motion with faux-fur bikinis and fangs of their own.
Everything about Night of the Sorcerers is so gleefully awkward you can’t help but love it. The plot, the storytelling, the acting, the camera work, the editing, the gore, the nudity, the dancing, the dialogue, the music, the costumes, even the kissing is about as graceful as a hobbled hippopotamus.
The film features a virtual superfluity of bad movie greatest hits, including:
A leopard wonders behind a tree, appears as a hand-puppet behind a bush, then emerges from the original tree as a cheetah. Busty females are tied to trees, relieved of their clothing via whip, beheaded, and scream back to life as a severed head, which is the re-attached to their shoulders via wrapped leaf on more than one occasion. The dancing 'Africans' (which look more like black people that were rounded up elsewhere in Europe) look right into the camera while performing their totally un-choreographed voodoo dances. Perhaps best of all is the fact that these apparent ‘voodoo rituals’ take place within walking distance of the camp, and no one thinks to move somewhere else along the river.
Not a single occurrence in this entire film makes a lick of logical sense. The pre-credit sequence has almost no bearing on the rest of the narrative, and comes and goes without more than a second’s explanation. The plot (or whatever one would call the thrust of this particular 'narrative') stops every time the characters feel randy, and the soundtrack changes gears faster than a kid with ADHD and a full iPod (the word 'kiss' seems to cue an off-screen jazz guitarist every time it's uttered).
Director/hack Amando de Ossorio is most famous for his Blind Dead series, the first and last of which actually manage some haunting and almost beautiful imagery. Like Jean Rollin and Jesus Franco, the majority of his career was filled with similar, low budget genre cash-ins, and glimmers of genuine talent were far too few and far between. Unlike Rollin and Franco (or Fulci for that matter), de Ossorio only made about 20 films, though eight of those were in a three year period.
Spanish zombie films are usually second to their Italian cousins (in my humble opinion), but predate them on most accounts. The Italians didn't come down with zombie fever until after the releases of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead and Lucio Fulci's Zombie (aka: Zombi 2, Zombie Flesheaters). Ossorio's Blind Dead franchise, along with Jorge Grau's much more impressive Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (which was released a year after this film) really led the charge in the ravenous sub-genre. The Blind Dead films featured zombies unlike any other in movie history. Here Ossorio's second class zombies actually precede the dirt-covered, voodoo flesheaters made famous by Fulci. That's pretty much the beginning and end of its cinematic importance.
There are a few glimpses of real filmmaking (see the scene where a dead man beneath a sheet in a make-shift dark room comes back to life), but Night of the Sorcerers (a title that makes no sense considering how many nights go by over the course of the film, and the fact that no one here seems to be a sorcerer) is mostly gratuitous trash, and none of you should want it any other way. The most important ingredient to such a film is pace, and this one moves like a rocket. There isn't any underlying editorial commentary or irony to get in the way of the unintentional laughs either, Night of the Sorcerers is all surface level silliness.
BCI/Eclipse has done well cleaning up this meagrely budgeted mess. Grain is shockingly fine, and artefacts are almost entirely nonexistent. There are a few issues with contrast and brightness levels, as the whole film is pretty dark. This darkness, not dirt or lack of detail is what made some of the scenes hard to discern. Blacks are deep though, and colours are bright without blooming or noise. The transfers Achilles heel is edge enhancement, which is a problem throughout. The 1.33:1 framing appears to be an unmated 1.66:1, rather than panned and scanned full frame presentation.
The Night of the Sorcerers is presented in its original Castilian and a dubbed English track, both in Dolby Digital Mono. The Spanish track is slightly better, featuring less distortion and better separation. The English dub features more ear-piercing female screaming. Both tracks do have their share of distortion at high volume levels, but the overall sound is cleaner than expected, without any obvious snaps, crackles, or pops.
This release doesn't feature very many extras, just the ‘Spanish Horror’ basics. Here you'll find the original Spanish credit sequence (same as the English one, but in Spanish), a few alternate clothed versions of some of the racier scenes (nudity was still a no-no under General Franco), a Spanish trailer, and a still gallery. For information on the film and its director, see the liner notes, written by Mirek Lipinski.
The Night of the Sorcerers is a fun bit of Cheez-Wiz, but my recommendation comes with a surgeon general’s warning: this film is full of empty calories, and may be hazardous to your health in large doses. If watching two grown women prance around in slow-motion wearing imitation leopard fur bikinis and plastic vampire fangs sounds like your ideal Saturday night then you are in luck my friend, because there is a lot of that here.
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: Alternate Clothed Scenes, Spanish Credits, Trailer, Stills, Liner Notes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Amando de Ossorio
Cast: María Kosty, Simón Andreu, Bárbara Rey
Length: 87 minutes
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