While the nations of the world may not agree on many points, at least our respective histories of filmmaking have proven there is at least one thing we can see eye to eye on: exploitation. Here, we bridge the gaps between Brazilian horrors and American blaxploitation, and from Italian sex flicks to Spanish westerns. It’s a thoroughly jaw-dropping assortment of odds and ends, replete with nudity, sex, violence, and many other magnificent marketing gimmicks, right down to the lost art of Stereoscopic 3D.
At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964) / This Night, I’ll Possess Your Corpse (1967) [2017, Synapse Films] ‒ Despite having dived into all manners of motion picture entertainment, Brazilian filmmaker José Mojica Marins is best known around the globe for his horror movies. In fact, Marins himself is responsible for manufacturing Brazil’s very first horror flick in 1964. À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma (At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul) was also the first installment of what would become the “Coffin Joe Trilogy,” with its follow-up feature, Esta Noite Encarnarei no Teu Cadáver (This Night, I’ll Possess Your Corpse) seeing a release in ’67. (The last chapter, Embodiment of Evil, was produced in 2008, and saw a release from Synapse Films that same year.) Full of horrific, atmospheric black-and-white imagery (and situations!), these two unsettling horrors ‒ which were unavailable in the US for several years ‒ receive fabulous re-releases from Synapse Films, who have gone back to original elements with the eager assistance of Marins himself. Both titles are available as standalone releases, and in a newly-released set, The Coffin Joe Trilogy. (Exclusive, limited time comic book reproductions are even included if you order directly from the Synapse Films website.)
Dolemite (1975) [2016, Vinegar Syndrome] ‒ The career of the late great Rudy Ray Moore was as versatile as the world of exploitation itself, but it wasn’t until he made his first feature film in 1975 that he managed to permanently cement himself into cinematic history with Dolemite. A blaxploitation picture like no other, this low-budget offering from both greater and lesser metropolitan Los Angeles areas finds Mr. Moore as the eponymous pimp who gets out of stir ‒ where he has been incarcerated via false charges, naturally ‒ and immediately adopts to the funky polyester lifestyle he has been missing all this time. Set free with the help of madam Queen B (Lady Reed), Dolemite is soon under fire from the very same nefarious fellow who organized his prison sentence, a rival procurer named Willie Green (D’Urville Martin, who also directed this unexpected hit). The funk is especially strong with this one, thanks to a dynamic new restoration from the demigods at Vinegar Syndrome, who also give us an assortment of extras to drool over, including an open matte “Boom Mic” version of the film, so you can quite literally see how it’s hangin’.
Private Vices, Public Virtues (1976) [2016, Mondo Macabro] ‒ Eddie Izzard once pointed out Europe is where the history comes from. Indeed, European history has certainly provided exploitation filmmakers with plenty of opportunities to raise their respective flags of sleaze, and there is no shortage of such in Hungarian director Miklós Jancsó’s Vizi privati, pubbliche virtù (Private Vices, Public Virtues). Based ‒ and I cannot emphasize enough on this next word ‒ loosely on the late 19th Century Mayerling Incident in Austria (see: History), this tastefully artistic, sprawling epic into sexual depravity (it is a European film, after all; that’s also where “the art” comes from!) finds Prince Rudolf (Lajos Balázsovits), the young heir to the throne of a certain central European country, descending from the perceived respectable notions of monarchy into the much naughtier side we all know the members of classic royalty were quite fond of. Mondo Macabro, who routinely break out some truly amazing titles from the vaults, presents Private Vices, Public Virtues in Italian DTS-HD 1.0 with optional English subtitles, several cast/crew interviews, a trailer, and ‒ best of all ‒ an English dubbed soundtrack so you don’t have to worry about those pesky subtitles spoilin’ your view of the goods.
Comin’ at Ya! (1983) [2016, MVD Visual] ‒ Even though the Spaghetti western had suffered a lonely, extended demise off in the desert somewhere during the ’70s, it didn’t stop Tony Anthony from trying to bring the lost genre back to life once another fad that had already been pronounced dead ‒ that of 3D ‒ came back with the nostalgia wave of the early ’80s. Thus, with his tongue planted very firmly in cheek, the man who had previously brought us The Stranger series and Blindman sculpted what was probably the only Euro western to be filmed and presented in the short-lived Stereoscopic Three-Dimensional process. And even though the end-result of this sorcery, a bloody adventure entitled Comin’ at Ya! came and went just as fast as did filmgoers’ fascination with 3D in the 1980s, the film has managed to resurface once more on home video ‒ though, this time, it appears to be here for good. Directed by the very prolific Ferdinando Baldi and featuring not only a handful of classic 3D money shots and the always welcomed, ever-alluring charms of the one and only Victoria Abril, this 3D/2D Blu-ray from MVD Visual sports 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio options, a trailer, and a short promo piece.
Happy debauchery, kids.