Retro-review: New on Special Edition Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Redemption!

DEVIL’S KISS (1976)

aka THE WICKED CARESSES OF SATAN
Directed by Jordi Gigó (as Georges Gigo)
Written by Jordi Gigó (as Georges Gigo)
Starring Silvia Solar, Olivier Mathot, José Nieto, Evelyne Scott, Daniel Martín, María Silva, Carlos Otero, Víctor Israel, José Lifante, Rosa de Alba, Mara Vador, Juan Miguel Solano, Wendy Asher, Antonio Díaz del Castillo, Richard Kolin, Scott St. Clair, Miguel Muniesa, Jose L.R. Mesas, Jordi Gigó, Moisés Augusto Rocha as the Zombie and Ronnie Harp as the Dwarf!

The thing I love about checking in on older European horror films is that often times you find an amalgamation of insane ideas that work well together. I am not saying that DEVIL’S KISS is a perfect film, but it does possess that certain amount of schlock and reverence to classical horror tropes to make it all undeniably watchable from beginning to end. Expect naked people grinding upon one another, zombies, witchcraft, boobs, telepathy, and many stranglings in this one. If that intrigues you, you might be the type of ghoul DEVIL’S KISS was made for.

The sultry Countess Moncorn also known as Claire Grandier (Silvia Solar) returns to Haussemont Castle occupied by the current Duke of Haussemont (José Nieto). With her companion Professor Gruber (Olivier Mathot) – himself not only a master of biology and anatomy, but also gifted with telepathy, the Countess plots revenge against the Duke who she blames for the suicide of her husband. Utilizing her own gifts at practicing witchcraft along with Gruber’s knowledge of science and telepathic abilities (and acquiring a dwarf as an assistant—because, why not?), the Countess reawakens her husband as a zombie (Moises Augusto Rocha) and sends him to kill anyone between her and her goals of fortune and revenge.

So DEVIL’S KISS combines witchcraft, Satanism, early proto-slasher themes, sex, fashion, and the Frankenstein story. It’s a potent and crowded mix of crazy horror. I wouldn’t say it all works, but it does make this film unpredictable and original. The film begins with a fashion show occurring at a castle with a bunch of gals prancing around in costumes that look as if they were taken directly from Dave Cockrum’s LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES. It’s this type of weird juxtaposition of old timey and modern details like castles and fashion shows, candle lit hallways and modern electric appliances, modern police and ancient rituals. This places DEVIL’S KISS in some kind of bizarre world that is like our own but slightly askew.

The acting is hit or miss. Solar is relentless and focused as the Countess powerfully evoking Satan and other demons. I quite enjoyed Gruber (Mathot) overacting with his increasing heart and brain pains every time he uses his telepathy, as ridiculous as it is. The rest of the cast seems to be plodding along with little care and much of the lines they speak are simply off (though that might be due to the translation from Spanish to English), but it is fun to see Rocha walking around like he’s imitating a T-Rex rather than a man in a zombie-like trance. And the Dwarf (played by Ronnie Harp) is weird in every way.

There’s a whole lot of Satanic mumbo jumbo, a lot of scientific gobbity gook, a smidge of the supernatural, and a classic sense of Universal monsterism in DEVIL’S KISS. This would be a fun film to watch paired with Juan Fortuny and Paul Naschy’s CRIMSON as both smear genres and horror subgenres recklessly and sometimes very ugly-like, but remain entertaining nevertheless.

Check out the trailer below, though I warn you; it basically shows the entire film.