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A team of researchers travel into the African jungle to study the mysterious disappearance of elephants in the area. Instead they discover a tribe of voodoo-zombies who rise from the ground, capture the women, whip them and slice their heads off on an altar. The women return as vampires who look for more women to kill. Written by
Oh come on -- I think the majority of the folks posting to this comment thread are kind of missing the point: This movie is NOT "serious" cinematic art, but kitschy, kinky, perverted, immature & juvenile JUNGAL SLEAZE: A skinflick masquerading as a vampire film, in turn disguised as a torture show. A Playboy fantasy for white men circa 1974, with an emphasis on the sadistic.
Plot summaries say as much as thesis statements sometimes so here we go. THE PLOT: A group of white European photographers "documenting the extintions of the rare species" happens upon the one clearing in Africa that a tribe of leopard worshipping natives used to hold their sacrifices [before being "completely exterminated" by a group of colonial soldiers], and decide it would make a great place to set up camp for a few days and be the focus of a horror movie. One by one, the two pretty blond girls are lured off by a leopard bikini'd vampire babe leopard witch [created from a missionary woman during the last blood rite] and sacrificed by the resurrected dead bodies of the local version of Templar Knights, who put on ceremonial masks and head dresses to make them look different than THE BLIND DEAD. At the end, the great white hunter contracted to protect the group throws his belt of rifle ammunition onto a ceremonial fire and the undead zombies & witches are all "completely exterminated" in a hail of random lead.
This is the story around which director Amando de Ossorio -- great on visuals but never too strong with plotting -- hung two of the most barbarically effective set pieces in erotic 1970's Eurohorror: The initial sacrifice of the pretty missionary, and the subsequent sacrifice of one of the blond girls [the other one takes place off-camera]. The catch is, you HAVE to find the uncut version of the film to really appreciate just how off the wall these two sequences are, and if this kind of stuff makes a movie for you NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS is close to a masterpiece: Both women are dragged screaming & kicking into the ceremonial clearing, lashed to trees and then have their clothing bullwhipped from their bodies as they scream in fear or pain, or a sort of near sexual ecstasy sounding groan that could be the result of the dubbing to English. The first woman is then ceremonially raped [the second merely vampirized], both are wrapped in a leopard skin, stretched out onto a goofy looking ceremonial alter and decapitated by means of a huge, phallic machete. Their heads bounce into a sort of collection resevior where the blood all pools up, turn to look at the camera and scream with feral vampire fangs bared.
Actually, the heads kind of bounce up all on their own and THEN scream -- just how I have no idea, but the point is made that the sequence defies an adequate verbal description. It is sadomasichism depicted in a manner of which is totally unprecedented in western cinema: the whippings themselves are all too convincingly staged, as the women's clothing is whipped strip by strip from their bleeding flesh. While that may not sound arousing to most people to lovers of torture films like MARK OF THE DEVIL and it's ilk will be absolutely stuck to the ceiling at the end of both rituals. The ceremonial rape of the missionary woman doesn't do much for me, but she is a babe [Maria Kosti, I believe] and seeing her strung up like that does something ...
And what it does is fulfill THE NEED FOR SLEAZE -- I would love to find out how or why Ossorio set about making this film [contractural obligation?] because it is SO riduclous that if you see the "uncut" prints the others are almost pointless by comparison, unless you are a collector of expensively priced video tapes.
Euroman Simon Andreu [the sleazy husband from THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE] has an extended lovemaking scene with a mulatto woman with amazing thighs, and cult favorite Jack Taylor gets to wear a safari hat & vest and turn into a zombie before being lit on fire, but other than that nothing else really happens in the movie. The visuals in the set pieces -- especially the images of the "rock men" coming back to life with their graves spewing dry ice fog and a funky Hammond organ musical theme churning -- speak to me of perhaps a seperate production that ran out of money, or perhaps they just ended up having to shoot the outdoors stuff on the cheap. But the fact remains that the "fantasy" jungle sections filmed on soundstages carry an other-worldly feel to them that the "outdoor" footage [probably shot in Ossorio's native Portugal] never meshes: They feel like different movies.
Which leads me to the skinflick conclusion of what this movie is really about -- Like Joseph Larraz' BLACK CANDLES, NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS has no deeper meaning or considerations to it's artistic integrity beyond what is depicted onscreen. Sex, blood, and boobs, broken up by conversations, arguments, ridiculous history lessons and a lesbian sponge bath [well two women are present, even though they do not interact]. Look deeper than that and you will find a very racist, sexist, cheavnanistically Eurocentric attitude that is mocking of African culture [at one point the local trapper admonishes a group of goggle eyed natives to "go back to your people"], was shot on unconvincing indoor sets that make Hammer's PREHISTORIC WOMEN look authentic OR utilizes day for night photography that was very poorly conceived: Both of these characteristics speak for a motivation for the film that has little to do with the rich vocabulary of Ossorio's BLIND DEAD films. It looks like it was done on the cheap to satisfy the nead for quick thrills -- because the film was made by a master of the visual it amounts to more than the sum of it's parts. The two sacrifice scenes have given the film an aura of mystery and forbidden fruit, if you will, that is bigger than anything that takes place onscreen at other times.
Cut them out and the movie is BORING -- trust me, I have about five different forms of it on VHS.
The ones to score are a Dutch subtitled print popularized by cult favorites Sunrise Tapes of Holland [now out of print and fetching upwards of $75 easily from collectors who know what it is], which has the distinction of being the ONLY commercial release of the movie in an uncut form available at retail [even if it was just in Holland], and a MUCH better looking print with Japanese subtitles that is readily available from a well-known underground outlet easily found with any search engine & a few clicks of the mouse button. Hint: If you find a tape that does NOT have subtitles and is in English, it is cut. If you find one in Spanish, call me. If it is in English and no subtitles, though, it is chopped of almost 12 minutes of footage in some forms [I think SWV's is 68 minutes long, though their color is GORGEOUS] and you are NOT seeing the version the ravers like myself are raving about.
But when you do find it you will know, because six minutes into the film your jaw will be hanging open in awe of the utterly base, unredeemable sleaze you have just witnessed. The film sadly never manages to top those first six minutes, though it comes mighty close, and I give Ossorio an A for effort. Or, more precisely, for knowing that he was making 80 minutes of utter garbage that would be out of the theatres in two months and forgotten by the end of the year. Because he was making it, though, it has become the stuff of legends, and when you find it your quest will be greatly rewarded for a change.
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