• Hardgore (Alpha Blue Archives) DVD Review

    Released by: Alpha Blue Archives
    Released on: 2005.
    Director: Michael Hugo
    Cast: John Seeman, Dianne Galke, Justina Lynn, Joan Devlon, Turk Lyon, Toni Scott, David Book
    Year: 1974
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    Hardgore – Movie Review:

    1974's Hardgore (also known under the alternate titles of Sadoasylum and Horror Whore, and directed by one 'Michael Hugo') is a crazy, crazy, crazy film. Part demonic horror film, part deranged sex film, Hardgore has long had a high standing reputation amongst fans of vintage smut and messed up seventies horror films - and with good reason. Whereas Joe D'Amato's 'gornos' like Porno Holocaust and Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead were distinctly European in their look and feel, this one is sleaze American style - you can see it in the fashions, in the sets, and in the performers themselves and somehow that just makes the whole thing scuzzier.

    Diane Galke (who also appears in a short called Never Talk To Strangers - but more on that sick little puppy later - and the feature length Teenage Runaway) plays a troubled young lady named Maria. In order to cure her of her psychological malfunctions, Maria has been shut away in the Fox Hollows Sanitarium and placed under the care of one Doctor George (John Seeman) and his sexy lesbian nursing staff.

    Once she gets settled in, Maria gets it on with a few of the female members of the staff and quickly sheds whatever sexual inhibitions she may have had coming into the hospital (that is if she had any at all!). Unfortunately for the nurses that Maria gets down and dirty with, they all end up dead in some increasingly gruesome murder set pieces after pleasing Maria with dildos and sex toys.

    Maria starts to head out on her own and explore the hospital under cover of the night, and what she finds is a cult of demonic Satan worshippers involved in all manner of despotic blood orgies and evil black magic rituals. The longer Maria stays in the hospital, the more she gets pulled into these rituals and soon she's participating in the orgies herself, and orally servicing the overseer of the rituals only to get fucked from behind with her head in a guillotine.

    Eventually Maria is taken to a hidden chamber hidden deep within the hospital known only as 'The Room.' Herein she is horrified to find herself surrounded by old bloody skulls, gory meat hooks, and bizarre flying phalluses that cover her in cum. The more time Maria spends in the hospital, the more insane she gets, and things eventually culminate in a truly bizarre and utterly nasty (literal) climax of evil!

    Like I said, Hardgore is fucked up. A Satanist is castrated, blood spurts all over the willing participants of the devilish orgies that take place in the hospital, and a man in a Kabuki-style devil mask oversees all of the action, even partaking in a good portion of it himself. An axe finds its way into a woman's crotch, a woman is electrocuted by a large white dildo, and the entire thing is bathed in swirling psychedelic lights and bizarre primary colored gels.

    Diane Galke is pretty solid in the lead role. She does a fine job of portraying the primal sexuality that her character explores throughout the film, and she sure is fun to look at. She also does a decent job with the more dramatic and horrific elements that her character faces in the film. She bears witness to some pretty seriously deranged occurrences throughout the film and her reactions definitely do appear to be those of a woman truly terrified by what she sees. It's too bad that she didn't make more films.

    The horror elements in the film are the highlight - the gore and splatter effects are gruesome and bloody. When a nurse has her throat slit, it's reasonably believable. There couldn’t have been much of a budget here, considering how this was originally conceived as a low budget horror/porn hybrid film that couldn't ever possibly appeal to a mass audience. Some lighter BDSM themes run through the film, adding an element of kink that suits the sinister proceedings of the cult and the minions involved in the satanic orgies held within the hospitals confines. The final sex scene, a sweaty, massive, hairy orgy with a whole lot of people groping and grabbing whatever they can is reminiscent of Tim Vigil and David Quinn's Faust comic (later made into a mediocre movie by Brian Yuzna of Bride Of Re-Animator fame), in that it's explicit and bloody and ends in an especially violent climax of blood and sex (complete with a candle in the snatch, natch!)

    This version of the film runs just a few seconds shy of sixty-three minutes in length, and to the best of my knowledge it contains the exact same content as the complete version that was released by Something Weird Video on VHS. I even busted out my old SWV copy and checked - all the footage IS there on this ABA release. One advantage that this DVD has over the Something Weird Video VHS release (aside from the obvious benefits of the format itself and the included bonus short film) is that the SWV release was 'bugged' with their logo in the bottom right hand corner of the frame from start to finish, and it was bugged with the words 'Something Weird Video Special Edition 1997.' The bug was very soft, but it was there. This Alpha Blue Archives DVD is also bugged, but not for the entire film like the SWV release was - the ABA bug appears a few times during playback for a few seconds, but is not omnipresent like in the SWV release. Additionally, the movie starts with some video generated titled that say ‘ALPHA BLUE ARCHIVES PRESENTS’ and then a ‘HARDGORE’ title – these were obviously added for this edition. More on the video in the next section...

    Hardgore – DVD Review:

    Well, print damage aside, Hardgore certainly could look a lot worse. As mentioned earlier, it is slightly 'bugged' but not to the same extent the SWV release is. The colors look pretty solid, especially the reds used throughout the film. Flesh tones aren't half bad either - skin looks like skin, as it should. The print damage is there though, you can't miss it. Thankfully, there's less of it here than on the aforementioned SWV tape (and it appears in different places too, indicating that yes, they are from different prints - though both are supposed to be uncut). Regardless, the movie is pretty watchable and looks about as good as one could realistically hope, even if it’s soft.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono audio is on par with the video presentation. It's a little rough around the edges, but it gets the job done. A surround sound mix for this would have been far too cool for school (imagine the flying sparkler dildos in DTS 7.1 Surround Sound and tell me I'm wrong!) but you can't fault ABA for using the original sound mix on the DVD. It works. No subtitles.

    The only extra feature on this disc is a short film entitled Never Talk To Strangers in which a scruffy, hairy looking guy is shown in a room with two disturbingly young looking women in school girl outfits. First he ties one up, and then he has his way with the other one (banging herm then forcing her to give him head, then to spit his mess all over her chest), clamping her nipples and causing her to bleed. After that, it's back to girl number one for a spell and he bites her legs, then inserts the handles of a pair of pliers into her vaginally. After he warms her up, he bangs her from behind. Once he's done with that and he's shot on her, he plugs an electrical cord into the wall and proceeds to burn her on her inner thigh and her crotch. It’s pretty nasty.

    This short film clocks in at just over fifteen minutes in length and is serioulsy twisted. There's no dialogue present at all, just a rather funky (and semi modern sounding) jazz score over top. The dubious morality of it all is certainly debatable, but the entire thing is obviously faked (thank God!), especially the blood on the breasts from the nasty nipple clamps. The girls don't seem to mind any of what happens too terribly much at all, with the one glaring exception - the scene where the girl receives the scumbags wad in her mouth. When she spits it out and gags on it, it doesn't look like she's really too into it there at all.

    Diane Galke, who stars in the lead feature, is credited on the packaging as playing one of the girls and there certainly is a very strong resemblance. Not being able to find any information on this little nasty short film at all, and there not being any opening or closing credits on the scene, who am I to argue with a keepcase?

    The menu for the disc is deceptively simple in that it's made up to look like a dirty, stained paper bag which suits the sleazy short film and feature quite appropriately.

    Hardgore – The Final Word:

    Hardgore is almost as depraved as they come. It's tasteless, it's gory, it's raunchy, it's sleazy, it wallows in its own filth and it's fantastic! Truly one of those whacked out products of the 'sadistic seventies,’ it delivers as much sex as you could want and even if the steamy bumping and grinding isn’t particularly arousing, it's got castrations and axes and psychedelic flying sparkler dildos in it! How can you go wrong? You can't! Hardgore rules.