Directed by one 'Pierre B. Reinhard' (who, according to the notes included with this release, may or may not be Jean Rollin under an alias but who probably isn't if the quality of this film is anything to base things on), best known for his porno output of the late seventies and early eighties, Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls is a bad film full of bad acting, bad effects, and a plot that makes little to no sense at all. Though the title of the film and the basic premise behind how the dead girls in the title come back to life obviously owe something to Rollin's La Morte Vivante (better known in the US as Living Dead Girl), the similarities to that masterpiece of macabre eroticism end there.
When the film begins, a buy in a milk truck picks up a hot hitchhiking floozy with a sprained ankle. He parks the truck and brings her into a silo where he fondles her until she feels better. While he's got his fingers in the fur, some guy on a motorbike dumps something into the milk which soon goes on to poison three different young women. Meanwhile, the head honcho of a company owned by some random Germans has been paying to have their toxic waste illegally disposed of in the cemetery where it resurrects the three girls who were killed by the poison milk. They dig their way out of their graves (or at least pop out of their coffins) and seek revenge on the living, their first victims being those affiliated with the dairy company that was responsible, indirectly as it may be, for their deaths.
Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls feels more like a Bruno Mattei movie than a Jean Rollin movie. Don't go into this one expecting a dreamlike atmosphere, or long and languid shots of a spectral beauty on a beach. Don't look for the gothic castles or the melancholy emotions that seep out of Rollin's work – none of that is to be found here. Instead, go into this one expecting completely gratuitous (and hairy) nudity thanks to some reasonably attractive French gals and a couple of disgusting, if completely low budget, gore set pieces a la Hell Of The Living Dead.
The performances are pretty bad throughout but at least they're consistently bad in that everyone here stinks – the dubbing doesn't help matters at all, as very few of the voices really seem to suit the performers on screen. While this doesn't make for a good movie in the traditional sense of the term, it does fit with the script and the logic gaps (why is the first girl to die from the poison drinking milk in her lingerie?), which are rather sizeable, mix with the bad acting quite nicely. A lot of the plot is taken up by faux-humping and stretches of inane dialogue which just adds to the long list of bad attributes that can be held against this film.
The film is touted on the packaging as a 'gore film' and while it isn't on the level of something like August Underground or one of the Guinea Pig movies, it does have a few strong scenes of violence. The first victim of our trio of undead lovelies is killed when one of the zombie girls puts her spiked heel through her eye while one of the male victims has his family jewels chewed off and his guts ripped out. The 'highlight' of the film is the scene in which a woman has her goods mutilated by a sword which is used exactly as you'd expect it to be in a movie of this type – ouch! The effects are bad, but their intent comes through and there is some shock value to take away from the film once it's over and done with. While the zombie make up applied to the three living dead girls is truly awful (and completely inconsistent in that it doesn't always cover the entire body, usually only just the head) it does provide some unintentional comic relief.
It all winds up coming to a fairly intense conclusion with an odd twist ending that doesn't feel in the least bit appropriate and that seems to be making some sort of statement about greedy, capitalist corporations and the way they take advantage of not only their employees but also their customers and the environment. It doesn't work - it just comes across as goofy and forced. That being said, for fans of bad trash cinema, this one is worth a look. Despite some slow spots it offers enough ineptitude, gore and completely unnecessary nudity to satisfy the wants of most exploitation fans and the unintentional hilarity scattered throughout give it a fair amount of entertainment value if you have a tolerance for bad movies.
The picture is slightly letterboxed on this release at roughly 1.66.1 and while it isn't enhanced for anamorphic sets the picture is better than you might expect it to be. There's some mild print damage here and there in the form of the odd spec or two but that's about it. Grain is no heavier than it should be for a twenty year old b-movie and color reproduction isn't bad at all. Black levels remain pretty stable and only fluctuate a little bit in one or two scenes while aliasing and edge enhancement are kept to a minimum. Mpeg compression artifacts are never once a problem and skin tones look lifelike and natural. Not a perfect transfer, but a very decent one.
The English dubbed Dolby Digital Mono audio track is fine though the quality of the dubbing makes the film even harder to take seriously than it would be otherwise as it doesn't sound like any of the voice actors were trying too hard on this one. Some mild hiss is present here and there but otherwise the movie sounds fine – the dialogue is clean and clear and free or distortion and the musical score and sound effects are properly balanced ensuring that one doesn't overpower the other.
Retromedia has dug up an alternate ending for the film and tucked it safely away in the extra features section alongside a French theatrical trailer (that is presented without any subtitles but considering how little dialogue is in it, it hardly matters). Also included is a static menu screen, chapter selections, and on the back of the packaging are some welcome, if brief, production notes from Mirek Lipinski that shed a little bit of light on the history of the film. The French release of the disc from Neo Publishing contained a few isolated soundtrack snippets as well as a documentary – those have, unfortunately, not been ported over to this Region One release.
Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls isn't really 'good' on any level but it is an entertaining slice of European sleaze with a lot of hokey eighties charm that gives it some value as a curiosity item. Retromedia's presentation doesn't have all the supplements that the import disc has, but it looks and sounds decent enough making this one worth a rental.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.