• Night Of Lust (Independent International Films) DVD Review

    Released by: Independent International Films
    Released on: April 29th, 2008.
    Director: José Bénazéraf
    Cast: Yvonne Monlaur, Hans Verner, Michel Lemoine, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Regine Rumen
    Year: 1963
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    Night Of Lust – Movie Review:

    Le Concerto De La Peur, also known as Night Of Lust, is an early directorial offering from Moroccan born José Bénazéraf, who would go on to have a pretty lucrative career in the French adult film industry in the seventies and eighties until he wound things down in the late nineties.

    The plot is marginal here as the film tells the tale of two rival Parisian gangsters - Eric Voltay (played by Hans Verner) and Sacha Markiff (played by Jean-Pierre Kalfoun). As they go to war against one another over a heroin related turf dispute, various people are murdered and beaten up and lots of women get naked and gyrate for the camera – hooray!

    More important to the film than the nutty plot is a completely berserk free-jazz score from none other than Chet Baker. Almost entirely horn-dependent, the music plays a very important part in the film as it really adds to the mood and the atmosphere of the picture, particularly during the rougher and sexier moments contained in the film. In fact, the film works much better as a lengthy video accompaniment to Baker's music than as a legitimate narrative piece of filmmaking. One has to wonder if that wasn't really the intent of the director in the first place.

    While the acting is hammy (this is not helped in the least by the corny English dubbing) the film does feature some interesting cinematography and some unique compositions. As a time capsule of the Paris of the mid-1960s, Night Of Lust is particularly interesting. Go into this one expecting a fairly trashy art film, a series of strange images set to music, rather than as a traditional gangster film, and you’ll probably come out of it with a smile on your face.

    The version of the film presented on this DVD is the version that Bob Cresse of Olympic International films re-edited and added/removed footage to at the behest of Lee Frost. It's also been dubbed into English and had a video generated title card (crediting Independent International Films before the actual film credits reference Olympic and Aurora Films) added. The English dubbing is attributed to R. L. Frost (better known as Cresse's one time partner, Lee Frost). Jose Benazeraf retains his director-producer credit here. This cut runs just under fifty-seven minutes whereas the original French version supposedly runs seventy-five minutes. As such, the film moves incredibly quickly and you have to wonder if Cresse chopped out some of the more character driven moments in place of the exploitative content he was known for introducing into his foreign acquisitions.

    Night Of Lust – DVD Review:

    Night Of Lust is presented in a reasonably clean 1.33.1 fullframe transfer that looks to be the films intended aspect ratio. Although the image has not been properly flagged for progressive scan, the image is watchable even if for much of its running time it is quite soft. Mild print damage is present from start to finish and there are a few noticeable scratches that run vertically down the image. Contrast varies from scene to scene and there appear to be some minor tracking lines on the bottom of the picture indicating that this was probably taken from a tape source. This is hardly a 'good' transfer but it is watchable, warts and all.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack isn't going to blow anyone's mind but it is at least of reasonable quality. The dialogue is a bit muffled in a couple of scenes but not so much as to render it unintelligible. A bit of hiss is present as well but more often than not things sound fine. The score is a bit louder than the dialogue but this was probably done on purpose for dramatic effect and it doesn't feel out of place.

    Aside from a single still menu screen, this release of Night Of Lust is completely bare bones and devoid of any extra features whatsoever.

    Night Of Lust – The Final Word:

    While it would have been nice to see the original French version of the film included alongside the American re-edit and it would have been nice to see more care put into the presentation, the fact of the matter is that it's surprising to see Night Of Lust on DVD in the first place as its remained fairly obscure over the years. The bare bones release and sub-par transfer don't do the picture any favors but the movie holds up and is absolutely worth a look for fans of sixties exploitation or the seedier side of French arthouse films. Recommended for established fans who know what they're getting into in regards to the presentation, a worth a rental for the curious.