• Wild Pussycat / The Deserter (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: March 12th, 2019.
    Director: Dimi Dadiras, Christos Kefalas
    Cast: Kostas Prekas, Gisela Dali, Maria Foka, Kaiti Ibrohori, Hristos Politis, Franca Parisi, Alexandra Kyriakaki
    Year: 1968/1970
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    Wild Pussycat / The Deserter – Movie Review:

    Mondo Macabro, the only company currently doing much of anything to preserve Greek exploitation oddities and genre pictures, offers up a double dose of vintage sleaze from the Hellenic Republic!

    The Wild Pussycat:

    First up, 1968’s The Wild Pussycat, a film that introduces us to a sleazy son of a bitch named Nick (Kostas Prekas). He lives with his girlfriend, Vera (Kaiti Imbrohori), until he doesn’t. When he gives her the boot, she’s a complete emotional wreck and one car accident later she’s headed for an early grave. Enter Nadia (Gisela Dadi), Vera’s sister. She’s upset about Vera’s death, of course, but wonders if there might be more to this. After bribing the landlady, she gets her mitts on her sister’s diary and, after cruising through it, realizes that she and Nick had a more than troubled relationship. Not only did he get her pregnant and then mistreat her for this, but he also pimped her out for cold, hard cash! Nick is, in a word, a complete and utter bastard.

    Armed with these new revelations, Nadia, who clearly has a thing for cats, decides to exact her revenge on Nick by using her feminine wiles to win him over until she gets him right where she wants him…. In a sound proof mirrored room where she can get away with anything she wants. And baby, she wants it all!

    Not officially released in its native land and, even then, put out in a heavily edited version, The Wild Pussycat is a fantastic slice of vintage sexploitation. It’s moody, atmospheric, beautifully shot and genuinely twisted (we won’t spoil the ending here but it’s killer!). Director Dimi Dadiras, who seems to have been a pretty prolific filmmaker in the Greek movie scene of his day, does a great job of controlling the pacing and setting the right sort of seedy mood, and both the score and the cinematography employed in the picture are top notch.

    Performances here are also really solid. Leading lady Gisela Dali (who the IMDB says was married to the film’s director), is quite a dish. She’s got screen presence to spare, using her piercing dark eyes and curvaceous figure in all the right ways. She plays the part of the seductress perfectly, and it’s easy to see why she was chosen for this part. Kostas Prekas is equally good as her foil. He plays his role well, crafting the kind of character that we love to hate. They have interesting chemistry together, and they make the most of the twisted dynamic that the script affords their respective characters.

    Mondo Macabro provides us with two version of The Wild Pussycat. Not only do we get the superior (and sleazier) uncut export version of the film but we also get the milder Greek version. The differences are mainly trims to some of the more sexually-tinged moments in the film and most (though not all) of the nudity. What’s intact in the export version is clearly missing from the domestic cut, but the domestic cut is interesting because it makes up for the missing footage by inserting a strange subplot about drug smugglers and a no-nonsense cop!

    Interestingly enough, Joe D’Amato basically remade this film as Emmanuelle’s Revenge (a.k.a. Emanuelle And Françoise), starring George Eastman and Rosemary Lindt, in 1975.

    The Deserter:

    The second film, written and directed by Christos Kefalas in 1970, The Deserter tells the tale of a young man named Alexis (Hristos Politis). He’s a solider none too found of war and, as the title more or less gives away, he takes off from his troop and runs off into the woods. So upset by the horrors of war is he that, once he’s safely away from the action, he smashes his rifle!

    When he comes across a lovely looking lake and decides to go skinny dipping, Lisa (Greek chanteuse Alexandra Kyriakaki), sneaks up on him and makes off with his clothes! He approaches her and learns that she’s mute but that doesn’t stop them from expressing the obvious mutual attraction that they share. When she runs away, he comes across a farmhouse where a sultry housewife named Ermina (played by Italian actress Franca Parisi), allows him to stay in the barn for a while. She’s married to a greedy slob named Yiannis (Stephanos Stratigos) and it’s clear to anyone paying attention that the spark in this holy union has long since died out, and so it’s no surprise when Ermina makes her intentions with Alexis perfectly clear. He’s still got a thing for Lisa, however, and when he learns that she and Ermina are cousins, things get complicated. Making matters worse, those who Alexis abandoned at the beginning of the film have come looking for him, and then there’s the not so insignificant matter of the involvement of… a witch (played by Gisela Dali!).

    What might sound, at least at the beginning of the film, as a drama regarding the horrors of war and the trickiness of romance, takes some pretty unexpected twists and turns in its second half. The ending, in fact, you most assuredly will not see coming! It’s pretty nutty stuff, and very entertaining. Not quite as stylish or atmospheric as the feature attraction but a worthy pairing with The Wild Pussycat. It’s stylish enough to work and the production values are pretty decent.

    Again, the cast do a fine job here. It’s great to see Dali show up here. Her part is a small one but you won’t forget her in it. Polities is decent enough as the lead while super cute Alexandra Kyriakaki and pretty Franca Parisi are both just fine in their roles.

    Supposedly Bruno Mattei, who is credited with editing this film, remade this Greek/Italian co-production as Armida, il dramma di una sposa the same year (which would appear to be the man’s directorial debut).

    Wild Pussycat / The Deserter – Blu-ray Review:

    The Greek version of The Wild Pussycat looks fantastic, taken from a brand-new transfer from the original 35mm negative and framed at 1.33.1 fullframe. Detail is excellent and there’s virtually no print damage here at all, the picture is remarkably clean. Black levels are nice and strong and contrast looks great. The export version is a composite made up of that same scan of the negative where possible and then some inserts taken from a print that is in lesser condition, but it still looks quite nice. The Deserters, also framed at 1.33.1, looks really nice as well. Just as nice as the feature attraction, really. The black and white image is crisp and detailed. Both transfers are presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc and are free of noise reduction, edge enhancement and compression issues.

    The Greek version of The Wild Pussycat is presented in Greek with English subtitles, the export version in English, save for one scene that switches to Greek (when this occurs, English subtitles appear on screen automatically). The Deserter is presented in Greek only with optional English subtitles. It’s DTS-HD Mono across the board here, and the tracks are clean, clear and properly balanced.

    As far as the extras are concerned, aside from the omnipresent Mondo Macabro promo reel we get a trailer for The Wild Pussycat and five-minute still gallery of various promotional materials and interesting pieces of ephemera. Menus and chapter selection are also included.

    Wild Pussycat / The Deserter – The Final Word:

    While Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release of The Wild Pussycat / The Deserter is, quite understandably, light on extra features it presents two fantastic pieces of Greek exploitation cinema in very nice shape and in English friendly editions. Both of these are a kick and the Blu-ray looks and sounds great. Here’s hoping that this release does well enough that we get more like this in the future. Highly recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Wild Pussycat / The Deserter screen caps!