Sex, Demons, and Death
Director - Salvatore Bugnatelli
Cast - Gabriele Tinti, Franca Gonella
Country of Origin - Italy
Discs - 1
MSRP - $29.95
Distributor - One 7 Movies
Reviewer - Bobby Morgan
The Film: 2/5
Marcello (Gabriele Tinti) and Micaela (Magda Konopka) Martinozzi are an upper-class couple whose marriage is in decline due to the fact that they are unable to conceive a child. To lift their spirits and bring some love and life back into their country villa they adopt their comely niece Letizia (Franca Gonella). From the very start of the arrangement things start to go awry. Letizia acts odd and standoffish with everyone and takes every chance she can to bug her eyes out. The fetching lass also has a strange and alluring effect on everyone she comes into contact with. The Martinozzis, their troublesome niece, and their servants Giovanni (who closely resembles Vladmir Putin) and Gisele are soon paring off in various sexual entanglements, with an omnipresent camera recording everything. But that’s not the worst of it; Letizia is also working some mighty effective voodoo on her adopted parents and their hired help, causing them to have disturbing hallucinations. With Micaela slowly descending into madness and her inept hard-pressed to do anything real about it (especially since his nubile niece has quite a grip over his mind….and his gonads) the dark forces working overtime to destroy their marriage will soon reveal themselves, as will Letizia’s fiendish grand design.
Sex, Demons, and Death (aka Diabolicamente….Letizia - loosely translates to Diabolically Letizia, I think) is another delightfully half-assed attempt by the Italian exploitation film industry to make a movie that tries in vain to live up to the promises of its title. To be fair it was the bright idea of the marketing knuckleheads at One 7 Movies to give Salvatore Bugnatelli’s lurid cock-and-mind teaser a misleading title. There is some sexual content in this movie but it’s poorly staged and filmed and mostly consists of the actors rolling around and rubbing against each other. You may as well be watching Animal Planet. The plentiful female nudity helps alleviate the expected disappointment of the film’s incompetent sex shenanigans. As for the “demons” of the One 7 renaming you won’t find any here. Throughout the movie it’s strongly suggested that Letizia is involved in the occult but her so-called supernatural powers don’t extend beyond influencing everyone in the house into fucking one another and causing an occasional hallucination or seemingly accidental death (one character dies in a car crash and it is the most pathetic death scene I have ever witnessed in a motion picture), which of course covers the “death” portion of the new title.
The characters are all one-dimensional and unsympathetic and only Konopka’s raving hysterics add any life to the movie. The rest of the actors all act like they were dosed with Quaaludes before each day’s filming began. Towards the end Gonella’s injects some camp theatrics into her performance but by then it’s too little too late. In fact the movie doesn’t really get going until more than an hour into it’s 93-minute running time. Until then it adheres to a repetitive plot structure where the various characters strip down, dry hump, and in the case of Micaela scream and get furious when she realizes that someone had their way with her. Bugnatelli, who co-wrote the script with Lorenzo Artale, seems to have taken a cue from Lucio Fulci’s Lizard in a Women’s Skin in his one-sided view of a predatory youth culture that Letizia supposedly represents. Like most of the movie it’s boring and borderline distasteful but had it been completely distasteful it might have made everything better. As it stands Sex, Demons, and Death is simply another forgettable Italian horror erotica that raises expectations it’s pathetically incapable of fulfilling.
One 7 continues their proud tradition of creating the DVD transfers for their titles directly from whatever crappy-looking print they could get a hold of and doing no restoration work on them whatsoever. I know that such efforts consume a great deal of time and money but there’s no reason why the company couldn’t open their wallets and do a little bit of clean-up work on their movies before preserving them for all time in digital purgatory.
Sex, Demons, and Death is presented in an anamorphic 1.85: 1 widescreen transfer that features significant amounts of grain, scratches, and other examples of print damage. At the 36-minute mark the film actually looks like it’s about to break….ON A FUCKING DVD! Fortunately for most of the time the print looks fine and reflects some effort on the distributor’s part to restore the film to viewable condition. The Dolby Digital Italian 2.0 soundtrack is louder and stronger than the movie deserves. The dialogue, weird sound effects, and Guiliano Sorgini’s psychedelic Nino Rota-meets-Casio score come through clearly.
Optional English subtitles are also provided but they are rife with poor translation and grammatical errors, and even their timing is occasionally off.
The only extra is a scratchy theatrical trailer, and personally I’m very surprised One 7 even found the time or the cash to put it on the disc.
When you want the finest low-rent Eurosleaze presented in the cheapest and most appalling way possible you can always count on One 7 to deliver the goods, or their idea of the goods. Sex, Demons, and Death is a decently shot but ultimately forgettable feature that no fan of Italian Z-cinema should break a sweat over nabbing for their collection any time soon. It’s lame.