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Devils Wedding Night - aka Il plenilunio delle vergini, The
Luigi Batzella's 1973 gothic flavored horror picture The Devil's Wedding Night was a somewhat elusive find until it hit DVD as part of the Elvira's Movie Macabre line through Shout! Factory back in 2006, though that release featured an edited version of the film with the nudity cut out of the presentation. Now the film gets a welcome high definition facelift from Code Red Releasing, again using the ‘U.S. version' of the movie (though at least being upfront about that on their packaging) that restores the fleshy bits missing from that last edition (yay!).
The story for this film is a bit of a mess, but let's give it a shot. A man named Karl (Mark Damon) goes in search of the fabled Ring of Vermougglian, the very one referred to by Wagner in his writing, and he traces its location 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. 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, Karl 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.
Damon may not make for the most inspiring leading man but he handles the material well enough in the picture, and if nothing else, we don't dislike him. This is Neri's show, however, she's got a fantastic screen presence that Batzella is only too happy to capitalize on, and the movie is all the better for it. Go into this knowing that it was made fast and cheap to cash in on the gothic film craze still making the rounds in its homeland and it turns out to be a pretty entertaining picture, even if it isn't the best that the genre has to offer.
Code Red brings The Devil's Wedding Night on a 25GB disc framed at 1.78.1 taken from a ‘HD master of the U.S. version from original vault elements' and while it still shows a fair bit of print damage and noticeably heavy grain in spots, it looks a lot better than the various DVD editions that have made the rounds over the years in different grey market and public domain releases. The colors look pretty strong here and the image is always nice and filmic. Skin tones look nice and black levels are pretty strong. Some more cleanup work would have been done here and this doesn't pop the way a new 4k scan of the original negative could have, but overall it looks pretty nice and really allows you to appreciate the atmosphere and cinematography in the film.
Audio is handled by way of an English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono option. The audio is usually pretty clean and nicely balanced, with the score having a bit more range than you might expect it to. There are, of course, where this sounds like the older, low budget, dubbed picture that it is but you can't fault the disc for that. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here.
Extras are a bit on the slim side. We get the option to watch the movie in Katarina's Bucket List Theater mode, which adds eight-minutes of footage before the movie wherein the lovely Ms. Katarina Leigh Waters offers up some info about the movie. Aside from that? A trailer for the feture, menus and chapters selection.
The Devil's Wedding Night is enjoyable enough in its own right, a sexy and atmospheric film that's light on plot but makes up for it with other traits worth noting! Code Red's Blu-ray is light on extras, sadly, but that being said, even if the transfer is hampered by the elements available, it's the best version out there. Recommended.
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.