Category: Movie Reviews
Written by SuperNova
Published on Thursday, 30 July 2009 03:43
Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead DVD Review
Written by SuperNova
DVD released by Media Blasters
Written and directed by Joe D’amato
1980, Region 1 (NTSC), 112 minutes, Unrated
DVD released on June 29th, 2004
Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead opens with a mental patient looking through the steel chain links of a secluded institution that serves as a wrap around for the entire movie. We first meet John Wilson (Mark Shannon) a conceited hotel developer trying to find a boat to take him to Cat Island. The very name brings about superstition, as it is rumor to be cursed. Luckily enough John comes across a stocky boat captain named Larry (played by writer George Eastman of Bronx Warriors fame) who agrees to take him to Cat Island if he finances the trip.
Once the group arrives at the island they meet opposition from an elderly man and an exotic ghostly apparition (Laura Gemser) who warns of great danger. Unbeknownst of the resurrected zombies the group goes about their business planning to erect a luxury resort before they find themselves at the wake of an island infested with hungry corpses. Will they survive? Or better yet who really cares?
What is it about eroticism in horror movies that seems so perverse but eloquently absorbing and stimulating? The proverbial excess of the perverted mind and the assault on the most deep rooted taboo certainly has enough thought provoking imagery to surpass the limitations of fantasy cinema, but the ecstasy of the moment usually develops from scenes of complete absurdity that one has to question “Why am I really watching this film?” The idea behind erotic Euro Horror wasn’t to emphasize the notion of ‘sex’, but to blend two profitable genres into one film that would explore the boundaries of sadism and necrophilia. The appeal of a grotesque zombie eating innards can be downright repulsive with its intentions, but when you throw in a beautiful woman willing to strip for our erected monster the result can be often intriguing if not embarrassing.
There’s something magnetic about this fueled sexual tension created on film when irritated by an environment that somehow arouses the viewer’s receptive hormones through feelings that implicate intense trepidation. It is this manipulated fear that produces an orgasmic desire parallel to our own inhuman and ethereal needs while feeding off the degeneracy the horror genre often attracts. Granted as ridiculous as it may sound some of these erotic European horror movies manage to be made quite well, but those that are usually opt to be placed in the Exploitation genre to minimize crucial subjectivity. The larger part of the attempts though fail miserably, never quite taking off despite the talent and provocative nature behind and in front of the camera. If one man is the epitome this genre and should be accredited for his understanding it would have to be Joe D’amato (Director of the Emanuelle series and accomplished cinematographer on What Have You Done To Solange?) for dedicating most of his time working around these prolific films. With over fifty different aliases and close to two hundred films directed in his entire career Aristide Massacres (His real name) knew exactly what he was doing even if the outcome was too outrageous and farfetched for consumers to enjoy.
You certainly don’t have to look far to recognize the atrocities and the inane heaps of flesh that seem to shower the screen in Erotic Nights of the Living Dead. Considered to be the most definitively undemanding and nauseating film someone should have the pleasure of seeing I could sum Erotic Nights up as an insufferable mess fixated to display the deep throat talents of monotonous women and dispensable male leads in a rather narcissistic manner and end my review here, but it’s not all voyeuristic garbage as some may lead you to believe even if my comments sound generous. Sure, the fact that the film has at least four sexual encounters in the first twenty minutes would likely prove the objective of Erotic Nights, however my allure went beyond the undeviating hope that my fingers could hit the fast forward or stop button quick enough before the climatic screams of unattractive women echoed through my front speakers and thundered from my subwoofer. For myself it was about rediscovering how a bad film can often be so sublime.
I do confess Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead was not nearly as enjoyable as I would have hoped and the sexual encounters undeniably misplace the horror undertone, as the film leads from one solicitant romp to another before momentarily pausing to remind us of the growing threat that lurks in the dark. The story itself on a whole is rather uninspiring, unconventional to a certain degree and illogical at times too, but there’s something about this idiocy that makes the movie acceptable to most horror fans. Certainly questionable are the intentions of director Joe D’amato who appeared confused about what he really wanted to concentrate on and create. The film has a lot of trouble trying to pay attention to the important details of the horrific terror growing outside, which is hardly horrifying or noticeable due to the fact that the proposed zombies don’t get much screen time and lack any rational background history for their reason. The films encased in a sexual appetite progressing from one encounter to the next with small pulsations of interactions in-between to keep the story following efficiently, but never consistently. It’s not even a matter of relief and breaking down the barrier of stress where sex is at the fingertips of every man and woman to liberate their built up anxiety through caressed energy.
The illogicality of Erotic Nights is that the eminence of horror isn’t even recognized so any impending fear is at the very most diminutive and imbalanced. On the surface terror is hardly explored in the movie, though zombies do appear wearing tattered cloaks reminiscent of the famous Fulci flowerpot zombie, they usually derive from a moment of complete senselessness and are eclipsed with an impassive fright that’s executed promptly to not disrupt the overall tone. The budget is shoestring at best and set locations are a mixed bag from the downright raunchiest motel room to an exotic vacationing spot off the coast. The films beautifully shot entailing moonlit scenes of ocean romanticism that serve to only distance its self from the impending doom. I don’t dislike Erotic Nights because it is a full-fledged porno, but because the possibility to actually make a genuine erotic horror film is completely avoided because of the pornography being entirely irrelevant to the horror aspect and vice versa. The film even tries to make a social commentary about Mark Shannon’s character being a swindler and a self-centered tycoon who believes he can buy anyone outright, throwing caution to the wind and manners out the window, but even this message lacks depth.
Acting is hardly noteworthy as there isn’t much of a story here or dialogue to go along with it. Laura Gemser stars as a suspicious drifter upon the cursed island appearing and disappearing periodically. She’s easy on the eyes, but doesn’t get involved in any of the X rated scenes, which isn’t anything new. Most of the actors are all Joe D’amato regulars who are willing to unclothe at any moment. Only one mentionable scene comes from a female dancer who is performing for George Eastman at a small vacant dance club where she uncorks a champagne bottle using her vagina muscles. Yes you heard me right. If you are a DVD enthusiast or a collector of Italian trash cinema then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t own Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead, but to those who’ve yet to discover the often acquired taste of Joe D’amato’s films you may want to test the water elsewhere.
Video and Audio:
Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead is as beautiful as it is innocent during its saturated blue twilight shots against the reflecting ocean sea. These scenes are what exceed expectation and the realm of possible fantasies. They are gorgeous and precisely detailed with a haunting ambiance that makes the fertile island captivating to the eyes. Presented here in an anamorphically enhanced widescreen 1.85:1 transfer, Shriek Show does a tremendous job with touching up the print to pristine form. Colors appear vibrant if not a little delicate at times with daytime tropical adventures appearing to be the most exotically rewarding in terms of full use with the color pallet. No print damage is evident and the film looks strikingly wonderful throughout.
Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead was shot in Italian and later dubbed in English. It is presented here in a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack. The dialogue is consistent and no muffling occurs, but the dubbing is often laughable and evidently out of synch with the movements of lips. The score by Pluto Kennedy is rather demeaning with low hymns that seem to revolve around the same repetitious chime endlessly. It doesn’t help the movie and nor does it truly ruin it; it just grows to become irritating.
- Production Stills and Laura Gemser Gallery
- Erotic Sunny Afternoons of The Living Dead (Alternate Footage)
Shriek Show released Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead on two different versions much of the same way they did with Patrick Still Lives. One is the rated DVD and the other is the explicit uncensored disc with all the cut material painstakingly restored including all the XXX scenes. I purchased the later and was amazed by just how great of a job Shriek Show has done. The DVD contains a chapters selection menu running the length of eighteen chapters. We also have an extras menu, which is filled with some rather tantalizing production stills from Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead as well as a great gallery of the lovely and very talented Laura Gemser. Shriek Show kindly includes five bonus trailers which are of Zombi 2, Nightmares Come At Night, Emanuelle And The Last Cannibals, Slaughter Hotel and the original trailer for Sexy Nights Of The Living Dead. There’s also a feature called Erotic Sunny Afternoons Of The Living Dead, which shows alternate footage. The disc is complete with animated menus and sound making this a must own for any fan of Italian celluloid tragedy.
I’m a fan of erotic horror movies that promote suggestive imagery to stimulate the mind of the viewer while taking them along a journey into perversion. The heart can love no wrong way and the romantic attachment between a ghastly apparition can often invoke the deepest of mental tranquility when examined under a strain of sexual aspiration and weakness. There’s something poetic about love and death and how they seem to go hand in hand when balanced. Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead doesn’t take advantage of the concepts above instead the viewer is dealt a hand filled with absurdity and unnecessary conduct that neither awakens or excites the viewer. The confusion you may come away with about your viewing experience is perceptibly understandable. Trying to blend these two genres is a recipe for disaster and in many ways Erotic Nights proves that. I admire Joe D’amato for trying at least, but the problem with the film is the discrepancy of both sex and death. The eroticism greatly outweighs the horror and that’s why it appears thoroughly annoying at times because the sex is everywhere and on everyone’s mind like sadistically crazed fiends deprived of the ability to lust over evocative imagery while exciting the imagination. To sum it up best, Erotic Nights is a buffet line complete with all the close-ups and money shots you can imagine. The zombies are just the desserts, but the entire meal leaves you dissatisfied.
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