Movie Review: Flesh Contagium (2020)

April 18, 2021

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, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

In a plague-ravaged future a nomadic couple, Helmut (Lorenzo Lepori, who also co-wrote, co-produced, and directed the film) and Ornella (Shiri Binder), traverse a rural landscape trying like hell to avoid the murder-happy, haz-mat suited, gasmask sportin’ mother fuckers that eliminate the remaining populace with wild abandon.
Long story short, Helmut buys the farm, and Ornella is taken in by Udolfo (Pio Bisanti in a Dafoe-level performance); a highly troubled individual who rapes her repeatedly while using her in his experiments involving nightmarish mutants and his disease-ridden wife that take place within the stone walls of the dilapidated fortress Udolfo calls home.
What follows is a wicked whirlwind of brutal survival in a new world ruled by monsters and madmen!
What begins with a set-up you may expect from a Bruno Mattei post-apocalyptic flick from down Italy way, soon transforms into something a bit deeper as Flesh Contagium unfolds. Sure we get mutants, naked flesh, and oh-s0-much bloodshed (more on all of that in a bit), but we also get an intimate tale of a desperate man driven to madness and violence as everything good and pure in his life is turned to filth and rot by the disaster that has claimed the world.
It’s that man, Udolfo, who has to carry this grim narrative, and thankfully Bisanti makes the character both hopelessly sympathetic and at times completely reprehensible (especially in his treatment of Ornella that turns into a rather unpleasant Stockholm Syndrome affair all punctuated by the shrieks of Udolfo’s wife as she spins and gnashes her teeth in a virus-driven St Vitus’ dance). It’s a great, if challenging performance, and well worth the price of admission for this one alone.
Thankfully, the flick has more to offer thanks to the solid directing of co-writer/actor Lepori who isn’t afraid to let the proceedings get nihilistic and difficult to watch before giving us some beauty in the form of a romantic and playful flashback or vertiginous landscape. Again, this is a study in balance and mutating love set against a deliriously grindhouse backdrop.
One element that isn’t balanced is the film’s presentation of the gore at hand… and in that respect yours cruelly is pleased as putrid punch these cats n’ creeps went all in!  We get extreme bodily harm, teeth gnashing creatures, and body horror all delivered via wet n’ wild practical effects, just like the good ol’ days!
While the subject matter isn’t for everyone, the end result is a masterpiece of emotion and gore, tragedy and exploitation… I highly recommend this one if you are in the mood for a healthy dose of gravitas among the flying limbs and eviscerations.

You can order a copy of Flesh Contagium right here!

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