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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Elvira's Movie Macabre: The Devil's Wedding Night
Elvira's Movie Macabre: The Devil's Wedding Night
Shout Factory // R // September 19, 2006
List Price: $9.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 13, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Cult movie fans all over the world know how Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark is. The insanely buxom horror hostess thrilled audiences for years on TV, introducing horror films both good and bad on her late night Movie Macabre show, the success of which made Cassandra Peterson's alter ego quite the star. She'd go on to star in her comic book spin offs and even a feature length film and now her old horror host bits have found new life through the wonder of DVD. This time out, the movie is Luigi Batzella's 1973 gothic flavored The Devil's Wedding Night, which has been a somewhat elusive find on DVD until now.

The story for this film is a bit of a mess. A man goes in search of the fabled Ring of Vermougglian, the very one referred to by Wagner in his writing, and he tracks it down to Castle Dracula in Transylvania. While spending the night in the local inn and making time with the owner's foxy young daughter he learns that he has arrived on the eve of a full moon that finds the locals in a bit of a frenzy. It seems that once a year they sacrifice a few virgins to the horrible creatures that live inside the walls of the castle that lay on the outskirts of town, the very castle that is his destination.

Once he's had his way with the buxom young lass he heads off the castle, leaving his magical protective amulet at the inn by mistake, and soon he meets Countess Dracula (the gorgeous Rosalba Neri, credited here as Sara Bay in the English language credits, of Lady Frankenstein fame). The Countess doesn't live in the castle alone, however, she's got a lesbian servant and a wagon driver type who serve her when she needs them. As he spends more time with the Countess he soon falls under her spell, his quest for the ring taking a backseat to his quest for vampire booty, but his wanton ways will soon find him in some rather hot water.

One would expect a movie with a fair bit of skin on display from the director of Nude For Satan and that's what we get. Neri, no stranger to on screen nudity having bared it all in countless Italian films of the era, gets plenty of screen time in her birthday suit and when she's not changing into a bat (in some unintentionally hilarious scenes) she's sucking blood or flashing what the good lord gave her and as base as it might sound, it works in the context of the movie. This isn't a complex character study of any kind, it's simply a by the numbers vampire film with some serious T&A tossed into things to spice it up a bit. It's formulaic, to be sure, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable particularly when it's shot as well as it is here thanks to some slick cinematography from the late, great Joe D'Amato. The castle makes for a great and macabre set, the women are all lit quite seductively and while there isn't as much atmosphere as, say, Castle Of Blood or Black Sunday there are still some very memorable visuals and sets.

One thing that stands out while watching the Elvira segments is that when she references parts of the film and they playback for her, they do so not from the widescreen print used for this DVD but from a fullframe video source. Adding to the mystery behind this is the fact that judging by the substantial amount of nudity on display here, the film is either uncut or at the very least the R-Rated US version (which would seem more likely given the English dubbing and credits). Odds are pretty good that it would not have been shown on television with those scenes intact or in widescreen (this was the eighties before that was as common as it is now). It looks like Shout! Factory has used the R-rated, widescreen version for the movie and just spliced in the Elvira bits where appropriate – though this might irk some purists out there who want a perfect recreation of the TV broadcast, it's certainly preferable to see this one in its original aspect ratio with the 'good bits' left in than in a cropped and censored version.

The DVD

Video:

Well, the good news is that the movie is actually presented widescreen and taken from a film source, the bad news is that it's not an anamorphic presentation and that the film source used has been beaten like a red-headed step child. There is print damage present all through the movie, sometimes more severe than others, and it's particularly noticeable during the opening credits and around the reel changes. The colors are pretty faded as well, which sucks some of the life out of the image during key scenes. Despite the abundance of scratches and debris, the image is still watchable most of the time but there's obviously not been any effort put into fixing any of the issues here which is a shame as the movie looks quite good in widescreen.

Sound:

The English language Mono track fares about as well as the video does – when the video skips, so does the audio and there are pops throughout as well as a far bit of hiss that's present in the mix. You'll be able to follow things easily enough if you listen closely but this is hardly what anyone in their right mind would call 'good quality' and it doesn't look like much effort was put into cleaning anything up.

Extras:

Well, you've got the option to watch the film with or without Elvira's occasional comments and skits, so there's that, but there's nothing else here in terms of extra features unless you include the trailer at the beginning of the disc for Alice Cooper: Good To See You Again (which is kind of cool). There is a static menu screen and the feature is divided into chapters based around Elvira's appearances.

Final Thoughts:

The fact of the matter is that the movie is in rough shape on this DVD. It holds up well and is an entertaining and atmospheric Hammer-esque gothic horror film but this DVD doesn't do it any favors what with all the print damage. The option to watch it with or without Elvira's bits as a nice touch but there really aren't any extras either. Until a better version of the movie comes along, however, this is probably the easiest way to see it uncut and in its original aspect ratio. For that reason alone, Elvira's Movie Macabre – The Devil's Wedding Night will be of interest to Euro-cult fans and it's worth of a rental based on the strength of the film and not the presentation (though hardcore fans will no doubt shell out for this one as the MSRP is quite low).

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.

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