26th Feb2015

‘Voodoo Passion’ (1977) DVD Review (Ascot Elite)

by Mondo Squallido

aka Ru der blonden Göttin

Stars: Ada Tauler, Nanda Van Bergen, Jack Taylor, Karine Gambier, Vítor Mendes, Ly Frey, Aida Gouveia | Written by Jess Franco, Erwin C. Dietrich | Directed by Jess Franco

A

The film opens up on a sun kissed beach in Haiti. A group of locals are in the middle of a Voodoo ritual (pointed out in almost clumsy Mondo documentary like narration). They sure are having a good time letting loose and letting it all hang out! As this is going on a ship arrives. One of the passengers is Susan, a wealthy woman played by Ada Tauler (Love Camp). She is greeted by a young and attractive woman by the name of Inès, played by Nanda Van Bergen (Women Without Innocence). Susan is in Haiti (shame the actress dubbing her voice can’t really pronounce it properly) to meet and spend time with her husband Jack, played by Jack Taylor (Pieces). When Susan arrives at Jack’s villa, she has a pleasant surprise in the form of Jack’s sister Olga, played by Karine Gambier (Women of Cellblock 9). She’s a bubbly and mysterious soul who has an appetite for sex. Once Susan has made herself at home and manages to spend time with her husband, things start to get very strange. It all starts with a dream about waking up from a dream (Inception has nothing on this one!) in which Susan gets taken by Inès to meet the locals to have a nice dance. It sure is a major freak out, man! From then on it gets weirder. Voodoo dolls, lesbianism, rituals and maybe even murder play a big part in Susan’s exotic holiday. Are these all dreams? Is it just her imagination? Maybe there is something much more sinister happening in paradise!? One thing is for certain, it’s not what a lot of you will expect, trust me!

B

Voodoo Passion (also known as Call of the Blonde Goddess) is a visually arresting film with a fantastic jazz score that is a schizophrenic acid trip courtesy of Walter Baumgartner. The film oozes style. Of course, it’s as sleazy as it is stylish. The female cast are pretty much naked throughout the movie (seriously, are there no buttons or belts on your nightgowns!?) and there’s enough out of context Jess Franco close ups of female body parts to shake your stick at (if you get what I mean). If you like exotic dancing, there’s a fair amount of that going on too. Being that this is a soft-core edit, the sex is more comical than arousing. That’s OK though because both Gambier and Van Bergen are both very pleasing on the eye! The film also boasts an almost bat shit insane finale that is seen to be believed! You’d think with all this going on that this would be a great piece of Franco and Dietrich sleaze right? Well, not really actually. I have to say that I found this one actually quite dull and drawn out in places. Yes, there is gratuitous nudity and often inexplicable events un folding before your very eyes, but this is far from Franco’s best film. It’s one of those films that some will definitely enjoy more than I did. It has its moments and is an unintentionally funny and incoherent mess in places, but I just found this actually quite a chore to watch. It’s not Franco’s greatest, but it’s definitely not his worst.

C

Ascot Elite have done a lovely job on the films restoration and overall presentation. The colours often jump off the screen (the location cinematography definitely shines in that regard). The sound is equally as good (going purely off the English dub). Voodoo Passion is presented uncut and in widescreen. On the disc you have the option to watch the film with a German, French or English dub. The only subtitles available are Japanese (how wonderful!). In terms of extras you get a photo gallery, original theatrical trailer and a selection of other Franco trailers available through Ascot Elite. Not only that, but you also have a reversible sleeve, so you can admire the lurid artwork in all its smutty glory! Yes it’s a humble release in that regard, but Francophiles will already know that this is an essential addition to the collection. For those who are only just coming to grips with Franco’s filmography, you may want to try other titles released by the label before buying this one. All in all, a solid release for a somewhat interesting entry in to Franco’s filmography.

Voodoo Passion is available on DVD and Blu-ray through Ascot Elite Home Entertainment.

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