Monday, August 15, 2022

Exorcism – Redemption Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Belgium/France/Spain, 1975
Director: Jesús Franco
Writers: Henri Bral de Boitselier, Jesús Franco, James C. Garner, Marius Lesoeur
Cast: Lina Romay, Catherine Lafferière, Jesús Franco, Nadine Pascal, Pierre Taylou, Roger Germanes, Monica Swinn, France Nicolas, Sam Marée, François Guillaume, Caroline Rivière, Philippe Lebrun, Olivier Mathot

Release Date: October 16th, 2012
Approximate running times: 98 Minutes 8 Seconds (Exorcism), 69 Minutes 41 Seconds (Demoniac)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC (Exorcism, Demoniac)
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono English (Exorcism, Demoniac)
Subtitles: N/A
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $24.95

"A former Catholic priest, who was tossed from the priesthood for his way-too-liberal beliefs, now writes S&M articles for a French magazine. Having been a witness to Black Masses complete with phony sacrifices, he deems himself judge and sets out to kill those people he feels are destined to spend eternity in Hell." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3/5 (Exorcism), 3.5/5 (Demoniac)

Exorcism and Demoniac come on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 40.9 GB

Feature: 22.7 GB (Exorcism), 15.1 GB (Demoniac)

Though no restoration has been done in the form of removing print damage, this is easily the best this film has ever looked on home video. Colors look decent, the image looks crisp, black levels are adequate, and the image retains an organic look. That said, the source used for Demoniac’s transfer fared better than Exorcism’s transfer.

Audio: 3.5/5 (Exorcism, Demoniac)

Exorcism and Demoniac, each version comes with one audio option, a LPCM Mono mix in English. Outside of some very mild background noise, the audio sounds very good, as the dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced. This release comes with no subtitle options.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer for Exorcism/Demoniac (3 minutes 23 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), and trailers for Female Vampire, The Rape of the Vampire, The Nude Vampire, and Requiem for a Vampire.

Summary:

Exorcism is yet another film by Jess Franco that exists in numerous versions. The most well-known version is the one that goes by the name Exorcism. Other versions include the standard horror version of the film, titled Demoniac, and the hardcore version of the film, Exorcisme et Messes Noires. There is also a fourth version of the film released under the title The Sadist of Notre Dame.

Exorcism has more in common with the works of Marquis de Sade than it does with the film The Exorcist in terms of content.And to simply write Exorcism as yet another in a long line of Exorcist knockoffs would be doing Exorcism a great disservice.

At the heart of Exorcism is a story about a delusional priest who witnesses a fictitious act of possession and then loses his mind. From there, he goes on a sadistic killing spree and eradicates the perceived evil.

Exorcism never establishes a strong narrative foundation. Everything just kind of happens, and to hell with rhyme or reason. And, while this is generally a major setback for films of this genre, this is a Jess Franco film, after all, and he is in a cinematic universe unto himself.

Shortcomings of the narrative aside, Exorcism features most of the things that one would expect from a Jess Franco film: soft focus cinematography, women in various stages of undress, night club sequences, and sadistic death scenes that often blur the line between sex and violence.

Exorcism starts off with a bang, with a sequence of a woman hanging naked upside down on a cross. And there are a few other visually memorable moments in this film. None have the lasting impact that this moment ultimately does.

Another area of note is the casting, which features several faces that Francofiles are sure to recognize. Most notably, Lina Romay (Female Vampire) in the role of Anne, one of the women performing the act that sends the defrocked priest over the edge, and Nadine Pascal in the role of her accomplice in that aforementioned act. Another familiar face includes Monica Swinn (Barbed Wired Dolls) in the role of a sadist named Maria.

Reportedly, Exorcism is one of Jess Franco’s most personal films, and it should not come as a surprise that he has cast himself in the pivotal role of a defrocked priest named Mathis Vogel. Performance-wise, he proves to be up to the challenge and gives what is arguably his strongest performance as an actor.

Exorcism/Demoniac makes its way to Blu-ray via a strong release from Redemption Films, recommended.















Written by Michael Den Boer

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