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There is fear around every corner with a diabolical sect on the loose! Kelly Lee Curtis (sister of Jamie Lee) stars as Miriam, an American schoolteacher relocated to Germany in an area plagued by a satanic cult that murders and tears out the hearts of anyone who betrays it. One afternoon Miriam accidentally hits an elderly pedestrian, Moebius (Herbert Lom, The Pink Panther, The Dead Zone), standing in the middle of the road; alarmed, she takes him back to her house to recuperate, only for him to secretly drug her and then secrete a hallucinogenic insect in her nostril. Clearly targeting Miriam for a sinister plan, Moebius triggers an uncanny string of events in Miriam s life involving nightmares, a diabolical cult leader, Damon (The Church's Tomas Arana), her magic pet rabbit, and a dark well filled with mystical water. Directed by Michele Soavi (The Church, Stagefright) and produced by maestro Dario Argento (Suspiria, Opera), this hallucinatory shocker now merges from the darkness with a new HD transfer!
Visual brilliance...a wonderful, surreal plot that is as deeply engaging as nightmarish. --Classic-Horror.com
The transfer is pretty wonderful to behold, impressive detail, contrast and color, without an real indication of over-processing. --Jon Partridge, Cinapse
This is by and large a really nice looking transfer, one that does indeed offer a very nicely suffused and accurate looking palette, and some perhaps surprisingly consistent detail and fine detail levels. --Jeffrey Kauffman, Blu-ray.com
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Michele Soavi has quite a resume with great films such as Stagefright, The Church, and Cemetery Man. There is also a nice feature with Mr. Soavi on how he met Argento and how this movie came about.
I am a sucker for Italian horror. Anything directed by Fulci, Argento, Bava, and the new kid on the block Michele Soavi has to have something going for it. The Sect is not rated, it is a gorgeous print, it has layers of atmosphere, special features. This is for sure a must own!
Scorpion Releasing presents the film in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio restored in 2K from the original camera negative for its stateside blu-ray debut. Simply put, it looks spectacular. Since they utilized a dual layer disc, the bit rate is maxed out and as a result no compression artifacts exist. Detail is superb, colors are deep, film grain present & wonderfully resolved, skin tones natural & lifelike, and contrast/black levels spot on. Fans of the film will be ecstatic at how beautiful it looks! Audio is presented in 2 channel master audio sounding great as well.
Extras include a 29 minute interview with actor Thomas Arana who portrayed Damon in the film, a 20 minute interview with director and co-writer Michele Soavi, and trailers for "The Sect" and some other films.
We are then in Frankfurt, Germany and the year is 1991. We watch as cult member Martin Romero (Giovanni Lombardo Radice; DEADLY IMPACT - 1984) follows a woman named Marion Crane (a reference to PSYCHO - 1960; this film references many horror movies, including Radice's name, which is a not-to-subtle reference to the late George A. Romero and his film MARTIN ) through the streets of Frankfurt, eventually grabbing her, stabbing her to death and cutting out her heart (offscreen). When a thief tries to pick the pocket of Martin on the subway, Marion's heart falls to the floor, scaring the crap out of the people in the subway car. Martin is captured by the police and when they try to handcuff him, he grabs an officer's gun, puts it in his mouth and blows his brains out of the back of his head. It seems that in the past three years a string of unsolved murders have taken place in the vicinity and Justice Jonathan Ford (Donald O'Brien; DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. - 1980) blames a satanic cult for the killings.
We then see old man Moebius Kelly (Herbert Lom; MARK OF THE DEVIL - 1970) pull a canary out of its cage and let it go free while saying,"It is time. At last, it is time!". He travels by train holding on to a package as if his life depended on it. When he is walking down the middle of a road (admiring the Sun), he is hit by a car driven by school teacher Miriam Kreisl (Kelly Curtis, the older sister of Jamie Lee Curtis). She takes Moebius to her home and it is quite obvious that it is the place he wanted to be. He talks in riddles ("I am close!") and knows more about Miriam than she knows herself. The big question is: Why? Miriam has a pet rabbit, which she refuses to name so they can be on a level playing field (WTF?!? Maybe she should sing a "Rabbit With No Name"!). That night, while Miriam is sound asleep, Moebius opens his package, walks into her bedroom and puts a weird-looking insect on Miriam's face, which crawls into her nose and disappears! She has a dream where she sees a naked man tied to a tree, tries to free him, passes out and a crane crawls up her nightgown and pecks her, ripping a bloody hole in her neck. When she wakes up, she finds Moebius bent over and coughing like a smoker with a three-pack-a-day habit. She drives to the house of Dr. Pernath (Carla Cassola), but she is not there. Her nephew, Frank (Michel Adatte), also a doctor, is there and he volunteers to go to Miriam's house and look at Moebius. We then see that Moebius was just pretending to get Miriam out of the house. He goes down to the basement, pulls off a metal cover that was hiding a deep well (it has a ladder that travels to the bottom), sets his package on fire and throws it down the well. He throws a cloth over his face and then dies (the rabbit is standing on him).
Miriam and Frank find Moebius' body and the well (Miriam has only lived in this house for eight months and never knew the well was there). When Frank examines his body, he discovers that Moebius has fairly new scars on his wrists and comes to the conclusion that he tried to commit suicide a couple of months ago. Frank and an ambulance take the body away, but it is clear that Frank wants to be more than Miriam's new friend. Then some crazy stuff happens. Miriam finds a young Asian girl in her basement. She steals the cloth that covered Moebius' face and runs out of the house saying, "Me no bad!" At her school, a young student named Samantha (Yasmine Ussani) draws a picture of a bug, the same type of insect that crawled up Miriam's nose. For some reason, it affects Miriam. Samantha's mother, Claire Henri (Angelika Maria Boeck) doesn't come to pick her up, so Miriam drives the little girl home. She meets Samantha's father, Mr. Henri (Niels Gullov), who tells Miriam that his wife has been missing for several days (So why did Miriam see her minutes before school closed for the day?). She also discovers that Claire was an entomologist who has been researching an insect that has been extinct for over ten thousand years (I'll give you one guess!),
Miriam's school teacher friend Kathryn (Maria Angela Giordano; BURIAL GROUND - 1980) finds the cloth on the floor (How did it get there?) and when she looks at it (It has Moebius' face imprinted on it). it wraps itself around Kathryn's face. Miriam manages to pull it off, but Kathryn is now possessed by some unknown force. The normally chaste Kathryn picks up a total stranger named Jack (Richard Sammel) at a truckstop and he stabs Kathryn repeatedly. He tells his trucker friends that Kathryn made him do it and that her face was on fire.
The water in Miriam's house becomes deadly, as her pet fish are mutilated in their tank and the tap water has worms in it. Miriam gets a phone message from the dead Moebius, telling her that he left his diary at her house and she should put it in a "safe place". Frank then calls Miriam and tells her to come to the hospital quickly because someone is calling her name. When she gets there, Dr. Pernath tells Miriam that Kathryn just died in the operating room and she was calling her name. Miriam insists on seeing Kathryn's body (over the doctor's objections because she is still on the operating table) and when she does, a naked Kathryn springs to life, wraps her hands around Miriam's neck, yells, "I died for you, Miriam!" and drops dead (The doctor says it must have been a jolt of adrenaline!).
When Miriam tells Frank about the phone message, he and Miriam go to the morgue so he can prove to her that Moebius is dead. Frank can't get the metal casket open, so he punctures it with a metal rod and it shoots a liquid into his face (well water?). Moebius is not in his casket. We then see Damon, who is carrying a leather pouch that contains some ancient metal objects. A female cult member shows Damon Claire's dead body and tells him that Mr. Henri is "one of us". Frank spends the night at Miriam's house, where the well calls to him. He climbs the ladder down to the bottom and discovers a secret passage, which leads him a sparkling tree where Damon and his cult insert hooks (the ancient metal objects) into Claire's face and hang her upside down from the tree. Damon pulls her face off (a real gory effect) and places it on the face of Moebius' dead body, bringing him back to life. The sect spots Frank spying on them and the chase is on. While Frank is climbing the ladder and almost at the top, he slips and falls into the well. Miriam wakes up to find her bed is full of creepy crawlers. She goes looking for Frank, finds him outside her front door and he tries to kill her with a knife ("I know your secret!"). Miriam tries to escape in her car with Frank clinging to the car's door. She crashes (Frank is trapped underneath the car) and runs back to her house to find Moebius and the sect waiting for her ("We are your family!"). A female cult member injects the tip of Miriam's nose with some unknown drug and she passes out. She wakes up in her basement, the walls now covered with satanic symbols, and she sees the crane of her dream fly out of the well which, once again, pecks her neck, opening a wound that is full of maggots. The sect lowers a tied-up Miriam into the well, Miriam screaming, "I don't want to die!", with Moebius replying, "You're not here to die. You're here to give life!" As she is hanging in the well water, she gives birth to a fetus wrapped in a flesh cocoon. Yes, she has given birth to the son of Satan (Moebius says, "Our revenge against God!"). She is given the choice of raising the baby or letting the sect raise him. What would you do? Well, if you were Miriam, you would grab the baby, run to your burning car (Damon killed Frank by setting the car on fire) and jump into the flames! When firefighters get there and put out the fire, the water reveals an unscathed nude Miriam. Was this the work of God?
This atmospheric chiller makes very little sense, but there is no denying that it has a certain something that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. It should come as no surprise that this was directed by Michele Soavi, who also gave us THE CHURCH (1989) and CEMETERY MAN (1994), two other films that make very little sense, but are watchable due to the atmosphere that permeates every frame. Soavi has an uncanny knack of knowing how to light a scene and where to place the camera, making the well look foreboding and other-worldly. His sense of visual information is second to none. The screenplay, by Soavi, Dario Argento (he was also one of the Producers) & Giovanni Romoli (Argento's TRAUMA - 1992) offers Soavi a chance to shine with his visual flair (Try to count how many times water is shown as something deadly). What I found really surprising is how much Kelly Curtis looks and sounds like her little sister, Jamie Lee Curtis. Kelly never got the breaks her sister did, as she has appeared in small roles in some feature films and some small parts on TV but never got the recognition she deserved. This was by far the biggest role of her career. She retired from acting in 1999. It was also nice to see the late Herbert Lom return to his horror roots. Most people know him for his role as the comedic "Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus" in the PINK PANTHER series of films, but he plays Moebius as such a creepy person, your skin will crawl. When this film was made, Italian horror movies were presumed dead, but you wouldn't know it by watching this. If I have one complaint, it is that it runs a little long (117 minutes), but you will not be looking at the clock.
Originally released in the U.S. on fullscreen VHS by Republic Pictures Home Video under the title THE DEVIL'S DAUGHTER, which gives away the ending of the film. It was released under the review title on VHS around the world. It is also known as DEMONS 4 in some Asian countries (Soavi's THE CHURCH was known as DEMONS 3 early on, but the title went to Lamberto Bava's DEMONS III: THE OGRE ). This received a fullscreen budget DVD release from EastWest Entertainment in 2007 (basically a port of the Republic tape), but the Blu-Ray release, by Scorpion Releasing, presents the film in its proper OAR and it looks great. We can finally see Soavi's great visuals the way they were meant to be seen. The extras on the disc includes trailers of Italian films on Scorpion's roster as well as a new 30 minute interview with Tomas Arana. He is a joy to listen to, as he describes in detail the differences in acting in an American production versus an Italian production. He also relates some funny stories, including how he passed out when filming a scene in this film, where Damon is smoking a joint (it was not real) and blowing smoke directly at the camera. Soavi asked for several takes, asking for Arana to blow more smoke into the lens and when it was time to film the next scene, Arana got to his feet and passed out because he was not a smoker. He also gives tips to young actors on how not to act in front of the camera and he makes sense. I could listen to him talk about his career (It is quite extensive. Look it up on IMDb) for hours. He is very congenial and he should teach classes. There is also an interview with Michele Soavi on the disc, but it is the same one that is on Scorpion's THE CHURCH Blu-Ray. All in all, this is a wonderful release for a film that should be on your radar. Also starring Paolo Pranzo, Erica Sinisi, Carmela Pilato and Fabio Saccani as the Pickpocket. Look for a cameo by Michele Soavi as a magician on the TV. Not Rated.