Monday, August 10, 2015

Mondo Macabro: Perverted Greek Killers

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Review by: Rich Rattlesnake

Director: Dacosta Carayan

Cast (Tango): Larry Daniels,Dorothy Moore, Vagelis Voulgaridis Cast (Wife): Larry Daniels, Dorothy Moore, Vagelis Seilinos

Mondo Macabro / Region 1 / Unrated / 1.33:1 fullscreen / Greek or English Dolby Digital Stereo / English subtitles / 87 minutes (Tango) 94 minutes (Wife)

Extras (for both DVDs): Extensive production notes / Interview with producer / Documentary on Greek Cult Cinema / Mondo Macabro previews Additional Info (for both DVDs: Brand new transfer from film negative / Uncut Version / Newly created optional subtitles

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Mondo Macabro, those maestros of exploitation, have decided there's no better time than now to dig into the vaults of Greek cinema. Those of you who have seen the works of Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps) know that the folks in Greece pull no punches when it comes to films that deal with the strange and the grotesque. Naturally, I was beyond curious to see what sort of treasures the fine folks at Mondo Macabro had uncovered. Volume 1 in this collection is Tango of Perversion, a very nasty little flick. Joachim, played with nutty perfection by Vagelis Voulgaridis, is a man who loves to watch. Stathis (Larry Daniels in full sleaze mode) is a man who loves drugs and loves women.

Joachim is unfortunately impotent, but still manages to get his rocks off by videotaping Stathis's sexual conquests. One night, after Stathis catches his girlfriend in a lesbian tryst, he ends up killing the other woman. Joachim, upon discovering the body, finds himself sexually aroused. As it turns out, necrophilia is the secret cure for his impotence. Tango of Perversion is the sort of cult oddity the '70s were full of and it recalls the sleaze epics of directors like Jess Franco and Renato Polselli. Director Dacosta Carayan gives the film a fair amount of style. Its colorful visuals mixed with insane amounts of bare flesh give the film a psychedelic sheen. By the time the film reaches its climax there have been so many plot twists that you will have to shake your head in disbelief. This is an absolutely nutty film but consumers of sleaze and exploitation will be in heaven here.

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The second volume in Mondo Macabro's Greek cinema line, The Wife Killer, finds us in much more familiar territory. Also directed by Carayan and starring Larry Daniels, this is much more in tune with the Italian horror pictures that were being released at the time. Vagelis Seilinos is delightfully insane as Mike, a lunatic with a nasty habit of strangling women after he rapes them. Daniels (in another morally bankrupt performance), is a businessman who wants Mike to murder his wife so he can collect her inheritance and make off with his blonde bimbo. Things, naturally, don't go as planned.
The Wife Killer manages to be a stronger film than Tango of Perversion. While Tango had a more interesting plot, The Wife Killer is more stylish, has much stronger pacing, and at the end of the day ends up feeling a tad bit sleazier. There is not a character to be found here that you can root for. It seems like this is a common theme in Carayan's work.

There are some terrific shot compositions here, even employing a lot of camera techniques that at times reminded me of some of the shots in Nicolas Roeg's Performance. The transfers on both films are solid, if not spectacular. They show their age, but I'm a firm believer in that being a good thing, especially in films of this ilk. If you watch the movies in their English language versions, due to missing elements there are a few moments where the language switches to Greek, which is by no means distracting, since it happens minimally at best. I think it's fair to say you already know if you are the audience for these films or not. In true Mondo Macabro fashion, they have unearthed some truly essential pieces of oddball cinema. If you are a lover of all things sleazy and strange, you owe it to yourself to pick these titles up.

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