Voodoo Black Exorcist [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - The Film Detective
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (20th May 2017).
The Film

On the island of Haiti, forbidden lovers Guedé Nibo (Operation Condor's Aldo Sambrell) and Kenya (Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll's Eva León) are discovered by her father. A fight ensues and the older man is accidentally killed. The couple is punished by their tribe with Kenya ceremonially decapitated and Guedé Nibo is paralyzed by the venom of an asp and entombed in a wooden sarcophagus. One thousand years later, the sarcophagus is being returned to Port au Prince aboard a luxury liner after spending three hundred years in an Egyptian museum. The sarcophagus and its well-preserved mummy are being studied by Professor Kessling (A Bell from Hell's Alfredo Mayo) and his mistress/research assistant Sylvia (Léon again). As a dotty dowager's Tarot cards foretell an uninvited guest aboard the boat, a floorshow by a voodoo priest and priestess awakens Guedé Nibo. The mummy – who finds his youth restored and his skin inexplicably lightened – spots Sylvia and recognizes her as the reincarnation of Kenya but keeps himself hidden when his appearance reverts. He only makes his presence known when he recognizes one of the boat's stewards as the reincarnation of Kenya's executioner and leaves the man's head as an offering in Sylvia's bed. When Guedé Nibo is discovered by Kessling's assistant Freddy (Ricardo Rodríguez), the mummy uses his curare-tipped asp ring to bend the mortal's will to his own, and uses him to help as Guedé Nibo murders and takes over the identity of Kessling's colleague Dr. Craig in order to romance Sylvia. Rather than supernaturally dominating Kessling, Guedé Nibo reveals his true identity to the man, offering specialized knowledge in return for Kessling's secrecy and obedience. Investigating the murder aboard the ship and the murder of the real Dr. Craig, local police inspector Dominguez (Return of the Evil Dead's Fernando Sancho) is not ready to believe in the supernatural but he seems otherwise on the right track in believing that Dr. Craig is not who he says he is and that Kessling knows it. Periodically turning back into his mummified form after losing his ring, Guedé Nibo commits more murders in the search for it before abducting Sylvia and absconding with her to a sacrificial cave with the police in tow. Despite its nonsensical American title, Voodoo Black Exorcist is not a Blaxploitation version of The Exorcist à la Abby, owing far more to The Mummy (perhaps more so the Hammer version) than contemporary Spanish Paul Naschy vehicle The Mummy's Revenge (apart from their similar downbeat endings). It is certainly the lesser of the pair of productions for director Manuel Caño (Tarzan in the Golden Grotto) scripted by Santiago Moncada (Hatchet for the Honeymoon) – the other being The Swamp of the Ravens made the same year – but not without interest and entertainment value. One suspects that producer José Antonio Pérez Giner (Vengeance of the Zombies) may have been trying to turn Sambrell into another Paul Naschy, and the Spaghetti Western character actor does try to invest his character with some pathos but everything else is just too absurd: from the blackface make-up that is more embarrassing than offensive to some of the worse severed heads that look worse than blood-spattered mannequin heads, silly action set-pieces like mummy versus fire hose, as well as threadbare production design, careless Techniscope photography, and an undistinguished score from the usually inspired Fernando García Morcillo (The Night of the Sorcerers). Newcomers to the film may get less pleasure than Spanish horror fans will finally getting to see this awful film in widescreen.


Released on VHS by Duravision, the horridly panned-and-scanned transfer of this Techniscope film has persisted on unauthorized DVD releases from companies like Videoasia (a company that usually managed to make horrible source material look even worse) and Mill Creek. This year, two Blu-ray releases of the film were announced, and The Film Detective's manufactured-on-demand BD-R is the first with a street date. The 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.35:1 widescreen release comes from an American 35mm print – the title card still appears on a freeze frame – that is imperfect but finally restores the scope framing, the extra picture information and enhanced resolution calling to attention even more of the film's shortcomings. The opening credits lettering is the only optical in the title sequence with the camera panning over a collage of pasted photographs, the crew is visible during a head-on shot of the mummy slamming a victim into a mirror, and the "black" make-up looks even more embarrassing (particularly when it starts washing off in the surf as two characters fight in the opening sequence). Grain is fairly strong due the original photography compounded by the Techniscope process (a two-perf format that produced a rectangular image without anamorphic lenses and allowed for shooting twice as much footage per reel before having to be optically blown-up and optically-squeezed for screening with CinemaScope-compatible projection lenses). The scope frame occasionally sports an inventive composition or two but finally seeing the widescreen version reveals that this was never a good-looking production even before the ravages of time on the print (occasional scratches, some green dings, density fluctuation, and fading). Since this is the American version, the end credits are blacked out but the music continues for over a minute; and it is likely that there were end credits since the music is accompanied by a reprise of the voiceover from the opening promising that the mummy will be back to search for his mate in another thousand years.


The sole audio option is the English-dubbed track in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The track is fairly clean but don't expect much in the way of depth. What comes through with the increased clarity is the horrid voice casting and exceptionally poor line readings. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided and they do feature some intermittent transcription errors and a lack of proofing (Sylvia is called "Sophia" on the subs in the first scene and whoever transcribed them did not go back and correct this).


There are no extras.


Newcomers to Voodoo Black Exorcist may get less pleasure than Spanish horror fans will finally getting to see this awful film in widescreen.


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