MVD Visual // 2001 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // January 5th, 2012
Bad girls go to Hell.
A masked killer is stalking five girls with various problems, striking them down one by one while the police struggle to figure out who is perpetrating the crime. As each one goes down, the others try to make sense of it while dealing with their own issues, issues that may be integral in the motive of the killer.
Director Sean Weathers (House of the Damned) begins Lust for Vengeance with a message about giallo filmmaking and how his film is the first ever example of the genre made in the United States. I won't argue with what he says about the genre in general, but he is sorely mistaken in his belief that his film falls in line with what he claims. On the surface, it has the basic elements he's trying to emulate: sex, violence, and an element of mystery, but the execution is so poor that it's hard to place it in anywhere close to the Italian mysteries he places himself with.
Also in that opening message is some drivel about "reel sequence," in which he claims to emulate the method of early filmmaking of using the length of a reel of film, about eleven minutes, to tell each part of the story. His claim about that function is dubious, but as an excuse for his disjointed film, the claim becomes patently ridiculous. The story for Lust for Vengeance is told in non-linear fashion, with each murder finishing out a sequence where we sort of get to know one of the five characters. Each of these sequences plays out the same way; we see the problem the victim has, whether that's drug addiction, sexual dysfunction, bulimia, or whatever, and then the killer comes in to cut them down. Even though there's a reveal of the murderer, the disjointed nature of the scenes keeps any kind of story or tension from developing and makes the whole project seem random. Weathers might claim a method to his madness, but the overall effect is terrible.
If there's one thing to credit in MVD's disc for Lust for Vengeance, it's that the DVD is exactly the same quality as the film. That, of course, is little praise at all, because both are complete garbage. It's hard to know whether the awful image transfer is the result of the director's intent or inept DVD production, but the result is some of the worst picture quality I've seen on any DVD. The film appears to have been shot on a Fisher Price camera and it looks like every other frame has been excised from the print. There is no detail anywhere and the gels used to give the film its monochrome look neither add to its style or help with its clarity. The sound is a little bit better, but there's still a bit of a buzz at all times in the background.
The copious extras give the disc a little more value, but they aren't worth very much, either. A featurette gives us some interviews with the cast and crew, though it's unclear when these interviews take place, a set of outtakes shows people screwing up their lines, and a trivia track gives some incidental information about the film. An hour-long podcast with Weathers and cinematographer Aswad Issa discusses the differences between Italian giallos and American slasher films. Though a lot of their information is plain wrong, there is still a bit of interest here. What I was most intrigued about is the series of trailers and bits of alternate footage from various other Sean Weathers projects, mostly because the trailer for Lust for Vengeance displays a drastically improved image transfer. It's the first time I've ever seen a trailer look better than the film itself and I wonder why that's the case. It doesn't have the cruddy color scheming, so I suspect that's a lot of it, but it also looks like it was filmed on something better than a child's toy, so that can't be all of it.
Sean Weathers has every right to be proud of his work and the fairly stacked DVD for Lust for Vengeance shows his love for the film, but it's an awful piece of work in every way. The best thing I can say about it is that the 85 minute running time is actually ten minutes fewer, which I'll just be thankful for. Steer clear of this one.
As guilty as possible.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated