Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Inferno Carnal (1977)

... aka: Hellish Flesh

Directed by:
José Mojica Marins

First off, the quality of the VHS that was distributed by Something Weird Video is downright abominable. Not only does the entire film have an orange / yellow-ish tint and a bright pink bar across the top the majority of the time, but it's washed out, blurry and heavily damaged, with an annoying continual roll. I'd say it's just barely viewable, but most people would probably just switch it off because of the abhorrent quality. So I'd think twice about purchasing this from them unless you are a die hard fan of José Mojica Marins and this is the only thing that's available to you. Actually, I think it may be the only way to see this one as per this writing, at least for American audiences. I'm not sure about its availability elsewhere. The run-time of their release is also just 68 minutes (as opposed to the 85 minutes listed on IMDb), which may explain the hackneyed editing. Regardless, you have to give Something Weird props for unearthing what they do. If not for them, literally hundreds of strange / obscure films from around the globe would probably never be seen.

Marins (who also directed, produced and wrote the original story) stars as Dr. George Medeiros, a scientist so dedicated to his "experiences" (as the subtitles call them, I'm sure they meant to say "experiments") that he neglects his much younger wife Rachel (Luely Figueiró). Not too difficult to see why, as Rachel is a pretty nasty piece of work who seems to only care about money and doesn't think twice about carrying on an affair with George's gigolo bum best friend Oliver (Oswaldo De Souza). As if the affair isn't enough, the backstabbing bride and her lover then plot to kill George by throwing acid in his face and setting his lab on fire. Too bad for them, George somehow manages to survive the ordeal and spends eight months in the hospital before being released. During that time, Oliver has blown nearly all of Rachel's money trying to live a playboy lifestyle - gambling, partying at the Louvre club and picking up prostitutes. Then one day out of the blue, one of Oliver's lovers decides to stab and kill him, leaving Rachel alone, broke and desperate.

Rachel is then understandably surprised when the husband she tried to murder begins to pay for all her needs and shows compassion from afar. Being hideously deformed from the attack, he doesn't let her see him or his face, and allows his friend and confidant Alfredo (Lirio Bertelli) do the leg work for him. Is George truly doing it out of the kindness of his heart, or is it all a trap? The film cuts away several from the main storyline to show a beautiful, smiling woman named Virginia (Helena Ramos) lying in bed topless or showering, leading one to wonder if these are flashbacks, flash-forwards, taking place in the present day or just hallucinations of a deranged mind.

Though the dialogue and plot are both pretty heavy-handed when it comes to moralizing, it does manage to tie up the loose ends before the end, and is capped off with a decent twist ending. It also has some pretty arresting directorial touches here and there, with atmospheric use of shadow, some quick-cut editing tricks and a pretty great soundtrack featuring screams, echoes and various creepy and disorienting sounds, which could have very easily been the same ones used in earlier Marins movies. The design on Marins' acid-deformed face is also not bad and he even gets to wear a cool black trenchcoat with an upturned collar to go along with the ghoulish face and three-inch long fingernails. As far as the exploitation elements go, there's a bit of gore (including a close-up eyeball surgery that looks to be the real deal), as well as mild doses of nudity and sex. So while this isn't nearly as colorful, surreal, interesting or nightmarish as the earlier Marins efforts I've seen and comes off more by-the-numbers, it's not completely useless.

★★

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