Blu-ray Review: Blood Hunger: The Films Of Jose Larraz (1970 – 1978)

March 9, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

When I heard Arrow Video (along with our ghoulishly good pals at MVD Entertainment) were releasing a collection of films from famed genre director Jose Larraz, I was excited as…as…okay, I wasn’t excited; in fact I had barely any idea who this cat even was (though I had seen the remake of his film Vampyres back in 2015, and I dug that…but more on that title in a bit). So let’s see what all the hub bub is about this guy shall we?

First on the collection is:

The Coming of Sin (1978):  You know shit is going to go sour when worlds collide in a film with the word “sin” in the title, and boy-fuckin’-howdy do they ever here. When an illiterate and superstitious gypsy girl comes to stay with a worldly female artist in her secluded, rural  abode, the nightmares come fast and furious…like actual nightmares of a naked mother fucker on a horse who’s into the kink…and he doesn’t have the decency to remain in dreams; no sir, he begins showing his shit in the real world, just as artist and servant begin fooling around. Of course our heroine thinks this dude is evil and not just sadistic (c’mon, riding a horse like that with your wang akimbo has got to punish the groin)…and soon the sex comes on strong like King Kong between all of our leads. Also the gypsy gets into a statue of a horse and is fucked by the rider’s mount…fun for the whole family!

I can safely say; if you dig on the erotic output of mad genius Jess Franco, then this one will surely satisfy. The Coming of Sin is packed with fever dream imagery, tacky sex, and plain pervasive oddness to make the viewer say “what the fuck” more than once…which of course makes for an entertaining flick for those that dig on the absurd and surreal end of the erotic spectrum. and as you can imagine with a film like this, there was some trouble with the ol’ censors when this baby hit the sinful silver screen…which brings us to the special features you knew were cumming…err…coming…

Our first bonus feature is a look at the film’s many versions thanks to those aforementioned censors trimming this baby up like…well not like the sensitive areas of anyone in this film, that’s or sure…but yeah, exploitation expert Marc Morris takes us through that lascivious labyrinth (and to that end, this release features both an English and Spanish version of the feature). Following that we get; Author Simon Birrell (who also shot a short film titled His Last Request under the guidance of Larrraz which appears here as well) sharing personal memories of Larraz, an archival interview with Larraz, an image gallery, and the film’s Spanish trailer. Best of course is another fact filled, insightful, and entertaining audio commentary by Author/genre expert Kat Ellinger (along with Samm Deighan) that explores the film in a highly engaging fashion.

Next comes:

Vampyres (1974): Fran (Marianne Morris) and Miriam (Anulka Dziubinska) have got it going on! They are smoking hot lesbian vampires living it up in their stately Victorian manor…an abode where they drag anyone foolish enough to fall for their hitchhiking shtick back to and drain them of their very essence! Can anyone put an end to their feeding frenzy, or will these bodacious blood-drinkers continue their fang bang for eternity?

Stylish, sexy, and oh so very Gothic, Vampyres is one hell of a fever dream fright flick, and by far the stand out in this collection. The best way to describe this film is: picture if Jess Franco (yup, there he is again…and I’ll be mentioning him again before I’m done here) made a film for Hammer…and you get everything that possibility conjures in your mind; tons of nudity, explicit sex scenes, an opulent Victorian location (which becomes a vampire-esque character in and of itself with it’s deep shadows and ancient decadence), vibrant hued bloodshed, and ancient evil rearing it’s demonic head to cause static among the easily lead. It’s a heady and irresistible creepy concoction for sure!

Along with the fearsome feature, we get a putrid plethora of bonus material on this Disc as well! First up we get interviews with Producer Brian Smedley Aston, Actresses Morris, Anulka, and Sally Faulkner, Actor Brian Deacon, Make-Up Artist Colin Arthur, Composer James Kenelm Clarke, and Victor Matellano; who helmed the remake of Vampyres mentioned up yonder. Following that comes an archival Q&A sessh with Larraz and Morris, a series of image galleries, theatrical trailers, and another amazing audio commentary track from Kat Ellinger that once again gives the feature at hand a highly enjoyable scholarly analysis!

 

 

Finally we get:

Whirlpool (1970): Tulia (Vivian Neves) is a gorgeous young model who apparently has never seen a sex thriller before in her entire misspent existence; because when she is invited by hot shot young photog Theo (Karl Lanchbury) to his secluded country home, which he shares with his aunt, for a lil’ R&R she suspects nothing is amiss. It fucking is amiss though…like off the charts amiss…due manly to the fact that Theo and his aunt are crazier than a shithouse rat and Tulia finds herself the victim of their machinations!

Whirlpool is a solid, and slightly bizarre, sex thriller. The young woman in the secluded house tropes give the production a Gothic flair, as do the gloomy forests and strange family dynamics on display. The film is definitely the least surreal of those featured in this collection, but it doesn’t negate any of it’s inherent entertainment value, and further adds to the legacy of Larraz quite nicely.

As for extras on this one, we get; Author Kim Newman discussing the themes present in Larraz’s early oeuvre, Actor Larry Dann discussing the odd tale behind the casting in the film, a look at the different cuts of the film (only the US Theatrical cut is present on this release), archival interviews with Neves and Larraz, an image gallery, the film’s US theatrical trailer, and a solid, scholarly analysis of the film thanks to an audio commentary by genre film expert Tim Lucas.

 

 

If you dig on the works of the multiple-mentioned Franco or Jean Rollin, you will doubtless adore the creations of Jose Larraz! These films are sexy, bizarre, and most importantly irresistible and well worth the time of any lover of the more off-beat and overtly erotic entries of our beloved horror biz!

 

 

 

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