Retro-Review: New on BluRay from Kino Lorber/Scorpion Releasing; help me out and pick it up on DVD/BluRay here on Amazon!
THE SECT (1991)
aka THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER, DEMONS 4: THE SECT
Directed by Michele Soavi
Written by Dario Argento, Gianni Romoli (as Giovanni Romoli), Michele Soavi
Starring Kelly Curtis, Herbert Lom, Mariangela Giordano, Michel Adatte, Carla Cassola, Angelika Maria Boeck, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Niels Gullov, Tomas Arana, Donald O’Brien, Yasmine Ussani, Dario Casalini, Paolo Pranzo, Erika Sinisi, Fabio Saccani, Michele Soavi
THE SECT is another one of those films that tosses everything at you including the kitchen sink. It’s one of those films that continues to surprise you until the end. As a kid, I avoided checking out THE SECT because of some truly uninspired box art, but this film proves the point that you truly can’t judge a book or a movie by its cover.
Opening in the late sixties, a Manson-like character wanders into the campground of a group of flower children. They accept him in and give him food and shelter, not knowing that he is accompanied by others who sneak into their camp at night and murder them all. Cut to the present, where there seems to be some sort of rise in Satanic cult activity. Herbert Lom plays somewhat of a demon hunter, attempting to prepare a young woman (Kelly Curtis) for whatever it is that is coming. But nothing can compare to the nightmarish things that sprout from producer/writer Dario Argento and writer/director Michele Soavi.
Filled with twisted imagery and nightmare logic, THE SECT moves along like an off its rails rollercoaster. The film begins as a sort of cult film about a group of Satan worshippers, but soon becomes something much more complex as we follow a stalker as he pursues his prey through the streets, ending with the removal of her heart. In one truly memorable scene of many, a pickpocket attempts to remove the wallet of the stalker and instead pulls a bloody heart from his bag. That’s one of the more tame, sequences in this film that includes Celtic mythology, a HELLRAISER-esque face removal that is absolutely grueling, and one of the weirdest sequences I’ve ever witnessed involving a bird raping a woman. There simply is too much shit in this film that will intrigue, overwhelm, and push your sanity to the edge.
But there is no place in this film that it goes so far off the rails that it doesn’t follow a central theme of the plight of this one woman seemingly selected at random to be at the center of all of these nightmarish acts. Kelly Curtis (who replaced A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4 & 5’s Lisa Wilcox at the last minute) does a fantastic job as the lead. She is equal parts tough and scared out of her wits, putting up a fight all the way through this gauntlet. And Herbert Lom is, as always, awesome as the off kilter madman who seemingly dies over and over, only to come back even more hellish than before. His peculiar way of moving and speaking makes his character truly iconic, as he is almost too talented to be in an Italian grossout fest such as this.
There are images in THE SECT that I won’t be able to get out of my head in a long time. Hell, Soavi even manages to make a handkerchief seem terrifying with some ingenious direction and camera movements. This film is over the top fun and an under appreciated gem of a horror masterpiece. Seek this one out, Italian horror fans!
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