Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Written by: Carlo Alberto Alfieri & Lucio Fulci
Starring: Claudio Aliotti, Maria Concetta Salieri, Robert Egon & Jessica Moore
Reviewed by: Brett H.
“Hell, I’m an even starving-er American student than you are, I spent all my money on a car! Get the picture?!”
What in the hell happened to Lucio Fulci in 1982? From 1969 until 1981, Lucio Fulci was at the top of his game. He broke into horror with a decent little gialli, Perversion Story and followed it up with great giallo after great giallo until splattering the world’s heads open with his semi-Dawn of the Dead sequel/prequel, Zombie. From there he mainly stuck with zombies and strayed a bit with the gore-filled House By the Cemetery and topped everything off with a masterpiece in The Beyond. Then 1982 came and The New York Ripper had the infamously bad duck voiced killer, but the movie for the most part was a sleaze goldmine that still had some merit. After that, the maestro just sort of faded off into the horror sunset. Sure, he’d peak his head out every once in a while with a decent flick like Demonia, but he stunk up the joint on many a occasion too. Case in point, Sodoma’s Ghost from 1988, a film so uninspired and uneven that not even die-hard fans could tell was done by the man. Never fear, I’ll be sure to include enough gratuitous breast shots to ogle.
A group of friends are headed to Paris and one wise-ass just has to do the stupid thing some asshole always has to do – take the shortcut. So, they drive around the countryside (while navigating country trails on a road map – huh?) and eventually come upon an old mansion. They stop in to spend the night only to find it abandoned. The wine cellar is stocked, luckily, so they have a drink or two, feast and the guys thumb through a vintage porn album before spending the night. The house had been occupied by nazis in 1943 and was used as a drug and orgy house before they were overthrown by the Allies. But, the spirits are restless in this old country mansion, as the group are soon to find out. A few of them are seduced by these phantoms and at once they are locked inside the house with no way out. There’s only one option, figure out what the hell these ghosts want with them. And, no, we don’t even get that sorted out by the end of the film.
Sodoma’s Ghost is a completely uninspired movie. Even compared to some of his other later bombs, this one just takes the shit cake. I’ve not yet wandered my way through all of the lesser films that Fulci was a part of in his later years as his health declined, but in the back of my mind I would like to think that the films that were the worst were made when he was most ill. At the very least, many of these films have some merit and are worth the rent. Demonia is one I’ve enjoyed over the years and The House of Clocks is actually a lot of fun. As inane as The Sweet House of Horrors is, it was great in that terrible movie sort of way. Sodoma’s Ghost, however lacks pretty much any appeal whatsoever besides what you see in the screenshots.
Where to begin when everything is such a mess? Not an incoherent and fun mess, just an utterly boring mess. The film starts out interestingly at a nazi soiree that is done mostly for kicks, let’s just say there’s a whole slough of naked ladies making out with clothed men. I guess nazi guys are a little shy. It’s accompanied by music inspired by the forties, naturally. When the kids travelling to Paris come into the picture, all steam is lost. The car ride until the point where they get to the haunted house is full of poor dubbing and if you can fathom it, even worse dialogue. These characters are the type who simply elaborate on whatever the last person just said with a “yeah, let's go!” or a “goddamn!” A lot of the time they all speak at once, but have nothing in particular to say. By the end of the film, I found out four things about the characters. Some were male, some were female, one was a drunk and there was a lesbian love triangle or some sort of crush going on. Other than the drunk dude, all male characterization is interchangeable, they’re all the exact same character. The females are pretty much the same, except they act as stereotypical females instead of chummy buds.
But, at least there’s nazi ghosts, right? Well, they don’t make an appearance until later on in the film and they’re not hideously disfigured or transparent figures of their former selves. They just merely sort of appear out of thin air, tempt their victims and have the ability (not that its used much) to read thoughts. They say they come from the mirror and mirrors are used frequently (the only thing here remotely resembling standard Fulci), but it’s not explained why. One positive thing about the film is there must be at least ten sets of tits in this film throughout, including one big ol’ set that’d have fellow reviewer Wes R. shakin’ at the knees. Fulci’s trademark gore? Just a taste. We get a little bit of blood and the corpse of a victim (who took the lightest tumble down a flight of stairs this reviewer has ever seen before hitting his head, busting it open and making him bleed internally!) begins too ooze gooey puss and expand with more sickly goodness. That’s about it for anything over the top.
Cinematography? Well, the camera is pretty steady throughout and there’s not much creativity with the shots (set up the camera, point, shoot, that’s a wrap!), but there’s a half assed tense Russian Roulette scene which leads to more tits and those honkers turning into decayed flesh (or something of the like), which is fun enough. The ending is a further mess as it doesn’t make a lick of sense and is downright laughable. Almost appropriately, Sodoma’s Ghost is brought to us on DVD by Substance who seemingly operate like the world’s most expensive public domain studio. The transfer of the film looks like it comes from a VHS source and the audio ranges from clear to downright hissy. There’s an English track and an Italian track, but there are no subtitles. Substance even includes some short bios of Fulci and the cast. As a devout Fulci fan, I’m sad to see such a lackluster film, and I’m normally one to try to see the good in everything. But, with cardboard characters and poor pacing, there’s very little fun to be had. A true shame when you see the day that orgy and coke fiending nazi-ghosts can’t live up to expectations. Trash it!
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