Shock-O-Rama Cinema // 1973 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 18th, 2005
Satan loves breasts.
Retro Shock-O-Rama studios has unearthed this early Swedish '70s sexploitation film about lesbian vampires and...hmmmm...you know, it strikes me I could probably leave the entire review at that and call it a day.
But we'll plow forward regardless. Here's what I was able to extrapolate from this incoherent import: a couple of nubile young ladies arrive at a castle run by the mysterious, lantern-jawed Wanda (Nadia Henkowa) and get sucked into some crazy-ass Satanic goings-on.
Wanda is the high priestess of a sect of followers of an ancient vampire called the Baroness. Apparently, this Baroness was not too well-liked back in the day and ended up being impaled and burned at the stake.
However, before she expired, she left behind a curse, a legacy if you will, that kept her sinister spirit floating around, watched over by a gaggle of dedicated, curvaceous women.
These followers have patiently awaited the arrival of a girl pure enough to imbibe the spirit of the Baroness, and to prepare for this exciting transfusion, they regularly hold topless rituals where there is much gyrating and bongo-playing.
The new guests of the castle will soon discover that they are in the crosshairs (as well as some other hairs) of the Baroness and her band of bodacious bimbos.
Also there's guy in this film who looks a lot like Scott Baio, but I wasn't entirely sure what his purpose was.
Pursue this film if you feel like being bombarded with incessant female nudity. Seriously, I haven't felt this desensitized to breasts since I caught that sumo match on ESPN2 the other week. The Devil's Plaything is the Showgirls of Swedish vampire eroticism.
But beyond the jiggle, I don't see much else at work here that's worthy of note, or your precious nickel. The plot is difficult to track, the acting is lousy, and the editing is as hackneyed as I've ever seen. Writer/Director Joe Sarno may have plenty of notches under his belt for churning out exploitation, but this film did nothing for me.
I suppose the biggest problem is the story. It is, simultaneously, simple and nonsensical. Basically, we're dealing with a wacko satanic cult trying to get a virgin all possessed by an age-old vampire. That sounds straightforward enough, but the intertwining of subplots involving Chachi, his sister, and the virgin vessel's companion complicate things.
Sarno's hacksaw editing left me even more in the dark. There will be some dialogue, then a sex scene in a barn, then some dialogue, and the obligatory topless ritual sequence, or a combination thereof. Look, I get the general idea of what's going on in the movie, but the story could have been told a lot cleaner and easier.
But let's not kid ourselves. In the end, this whole film is just an excuse to get a lot of women naked and kissing and suckling on each other's necks and fondling each other's bosoms. One just has to count how many times we get that ritual scene played over and over (and over).
In addition, the horror elements are largely missing as there is next to zero gore and when the mighty and much-feared Baroness finally does show up, it's an anticlimactic disappointment; she pretty much hangs around in a see-through nightie, talks some trash, and then goes out like a punk at the end.
For those looking only for the carnal thrills, you'll certainly get your fill of flesh. However, don't expect mind-$#&%ing eroticism. This being the R-rated cut, it is obvious some of the steamier scenes had to be trimmed or edited. The unrated cut is available for those of you curious enough to find out what has been excised, through a free mail-in offer from Shock-O-Rama.
So if you feel like being visually assaulted by much nipplage, The Devil's Plaything is a good choice. I don't think there was single female in the film who didn't disrobe. Heck, I'd be surprised if there were any female crew members on the set wearing their tops. Aside from the skin, this film is lacking.
This studio lovingly produces its DVD releases, and that care is evident with The Devil's Plaything. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, while sporting flaws form the original print no doubt, still holds up well. The 2.0 stereo mix is shallow, but those bongos sure reverberate! (I'm talking about the musical instruments, pervert!)
As is the case with Shock-O-Rama discs, some in-depth liner notes accompany. Joe Sarno provides a brief interview as well in the mini-documentary "Joe Sarno, A Touch of Horror." The most disturbing thing? Dude looks like a nice old grandpa you'd see on Mueslix commercial.
Sepxloitation it is, but The Devil's Plaything fails to provide a cohesive move-going experience to supplement all the T&A.
Back to Hell with you, and all your bare-chested vixens! (Wait, how come my Sunday School teacher left out that bit of theology?)
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* "Joe Sarno, A Touch of Horror" Interview
* Liner Notes