• Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: July 28th, 2020.
    Director: Pierre B. Reinhard
    Cast: Cornélia Wilms, Kathryn Charly, Anthea Wyler
    Year: 1986
    Purchase From Amazon

    Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls – Movie Review:

    Directed by one 'Pierre B. Reinhard' (who, according to the notes included with the old Retromedia DVD release, may or may not be Jean Rollin under an alias – spoiler alert… it wasn’t Rollin), best known for his porno output of the late seventies and early eighties, Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls is a bad film full of bad acting, bad effects, and a plot that makes little to no sense at all. Though the title of the film and the basic premise behind how the dead girls in the title come back to life obviously owe something to Rollin's La Morte Vivante (better known in the US as Living Dead Girl), the similarities to that masterpiece of macabre eroticism end there.

    When the film begins, a guy in a dairy truck from the ‘Laiterie Des Ormes’ picks up a hot hitchhiking floozy with a sprained ankle. He parks the truck and brings her into a silo where he fondles her until she feels better. While he's got his fingers in the fur, some guy on a motorbike dumps something into the milk which soon goes on to poison three different young women. Meanwhile, the head honcho of a company owned by some random Germans has been paying to have their toxic waste illegally disposed of in the cemetery where it resurrects the three girls who were killed by the poison milk. They dig their way out of their graves (or at least pop out of their coffins) and seek revenge on the living, their first victims being those affiliated with the dairy company that was responsible, indirectly as it may be, for their deaths.

    Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls feels more like a Bruno Mattei movie than a Jean Rollin movie. Don't go into this one expecting a dreamlike atmosphere, or long and languid shots of a spectral beauty on a beach. Don't look for the gothic castles or the melancholy emotions that seep out of Rollin's work – none of that is to be found here. Instead, go into this one expecting completely gratuitous (and hairy) nudity thanks to some reasonably attractive French gals and a couple of disgusting, if completely low budget, gore set pieces a la Hell Of The Living Dead.

    The performances are pretty bad throughout, but at least they're consistently bad in that everyone here stinks – the English dubbing doesn't help matters at all, as very few of the voices really seem to suit the performers on screen (watch the movie in French, it is quite a bit more effective that way). While this doesn't make for a good movie in the traditional sense of the term, it does fit with the script and the logic gaps (why is the first girl to die from the poison drinking milk in her lingerie?), which are rather sizeable, mix with the bad acting quite nicely. A lot of the plot is taken up by faux-humping and stretches of inane dialogue which just adds to the long list of bad attributes that can be held against this film. But it is, despite all this, pretty entertaining, if usually for the wrong reasons.

    The film has been touted in the past as a 'gore film,' and while it isn't on the level of something like August Underground or one of the Guinea Pig movies, it does have a few strong scenes of violence. The first victim of our trio of undead lovelies is killed when one of the zombie girls puts her spiked heel through her eye while one of the male victims has his family jewels chewed off and his guts ripped out. The 'highlight' of the film is the scene in which a woman has her goods mutilated by a sword which is used exactly as you'd expect it to be in a movie of this type – ouch! The effects are bad, but their intent comes through and there is some shock value to take away from the film once it's over and done with. While the zombie make up applied to the three living dead girls is truly awful (and completely inconsistent in that it doesn't always cover the entire body, usually only just the head) it does provide some unintentional comic relief. The film also benefits from a fantastic synth-heavy score that sounds so eighties it almost hurts (in the best possible way).

    It all winds up coming to a fairly intense conclusion with an odd twist ending that doesn't feel in the least bit appropriate. It seems to be making some sort of statement about greedy, capitalist corporations and the way they take advantage of not only their employees but also their customers and the environment. It doesn't work - it just comes across as goofy and forced. That being said, for fans of European trash cinema, this one is worth a look. Despite some slow spots it offers enough ineptitude, gore and completely unnecessary nudity to satisfy the wants of most exploitation fans. The unintentional hilarity scattered throughout give it a fair amount of entertainment value if you have an appreciation for these things and enjoy things like dicks being bitten off and zombies having rad lesbian sex with the living.

    Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin brings Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls in its uncut ‘erotic version’ form to standard edition Blu-ray (it was previously released as a limited edition website exclusive) in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at 1.66.1 widescreen with the transfer given just over 18GBs of space on the 25GB disc. Some scenes early on look a little blueish but that could be how they were shot. There’s some minor print damage noticeable throughout but nothing too distracting, mostly white specks and the odd scratch. There aren’t any issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement and compression artifacts are thankfully held in check, only appearing occasionally (the car fire at the end being a noticeable example).

    Audio options include a French language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track and an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono option, with subtitles provided in English for both tracks. As noted prior, the movie definitely sounds better in French. The track is decent enough, limited in range and presumably by the source material but the levels are balanced well enough. The English track doesn’t sound as good, not surprisingly given that it’s lossy, but it’s there for those who want it and there is something to be sad for the ridiculous dubbing job.

    Extras start off with Revisiting The Revenge, an interview with special effects artist Benoit Lestang and writer Jean-Claude Roy (both of whom have sadly passed away since this piece was shot) that clocks in a thirteen-minutes with both men interviewed together. Lestang speaks about how lucky he was to work with Jean-Claude Roy on various pictures and what he was able to learn from working with the man, how this picture was his second feature and his initial aversion to creating the baby scene, the prosthetics that were created for the movie, how they didn't spend very much money on the masks for the actresses and how some of the effects were accomplished. Roy discusses the influence of the Grand Guignol Theater on his work, his appreciation of the type of movie that Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls is and why he opted to produce it, how the two men met via Jean Rollin, casting the film, the film's censorship history and how it was received when it hit theaters. This is a pretty fun interview, these guys have no false pretenses about the type of movie that they made and have a good sense of humor about all of this.

    This is followed by The Revenge, an interview with director Pierre B. Reinhard (which clearly disproves the ‘Rollin made this’ theory mentioned in the opening of this review) that runs twenty-two-minutes. This interview covers how he got into filmmaking and his education (which involved Jean-Paul Belmondo's father!), getting practical experience in the industry at the age of sixteen, how he studied editing, working with Gérard Kikoïne and how he learned so much from him, his work editing X-rated films, how he also worked with Francis Leroi and Claude Mulot, branching out into directing adult films himself starting with Erotic Playgirls, and how he came to work with Roy on Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls. He also talks about the casting of the film, the tight shooting schedule and low budget that they had to deal with, how it was fun to make a horror picture despite not being a fan of the genre himself, securing the locations used in the film, what it was like on set and the problems caused by the cold, the effects work censorship issues, how politics came to ruin the French adult film industry, the advent of video and its effects on the business and more. Very interesting stuff!

    Inside Studio Lestang is a second interview with special effects artist Benoit Lestang. He speaks here for fifteen-minutes about doing the effects for Laugier's Martyrs and gives a tour of his workshop. As he does he mentions other films that he's done and shows off different props and prosthetics from those films while discussing his techniques, how he got his start in the business working on Rollin's Living Dead Girl, how it took a while before doing this full time, working on pictures like The Church, Baby Blood, Brotherhood Of The Wolf and how these days he does more work on mainstream films than genre pictures, his admiration for the work of Rob Bottin and his thoughts on CGI. Interestingly enough, false noses are the largest part of his repertoire!

    Finishing up the extras are a theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. The CD that was included in the limited edition has not been ported over to this standard release. There alternate version(s) of the movie that have been released elsewhere are also not included here (there are both ‘horror’ and ‘erotic’ versions of the film out there).

    Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls – The Final Word Review:

    Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls isn't really 'good' on any level but it is an entertaining slice of European sleaze with a lot of hokey eighties charm and a pretty high sleaze factor that gives it some definite value as a curiosity item. Severin has done a pretty nice job bringing the film to Blu-ray with a few decent interviews that clear up its history and a pretty decent presentation.

    Click on the images below for full sized Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls Blu-ray screen caps!