As I've mentioned before, it pleases me when I get the opportunity to kick back with a DVD release of an obscure horror title, y'know - one that hasn't had multiple releases from every other company! The only problem with this is that although you're often going into new territory which means fresh horror viewing but it can sometimes mean you're also playing with fire with potentially dodgy ropey movies! Thanks then that this is not one of them...
I wasn't a virgin to director Marcello Avallone's work having previously enjoyed the vastly underrated and often ignored 'Specters', so I felt quite reassured as I popped 'Maya' into my player.
The story kicks off with an air of confusion with an overlong diatribe about ancient tribal goings on and the world that exists between life and death etc etc - much akin to those old factu-films that played in cinema's in the 70's promising all sorts of forbidden fruit about the mystical side of life. 'Maya' is (thankfully) not like this! Set in Venezuela, the film begins proper with the mysterious death of an old archivist who is researching the aforementioned world between life and death, the poor old guy had headed off to a local mini-pyramid only to meet his doom! His daughter soon arrives on the scene, keen to get find out the truth behind her fathers death and with the assistance of the local square jawed grinning layabout she soon uncovers more than she bargained for. The townsfolk are making preparations for the impending celebration of the dead, and as the day grows nearer the body count grows!
A heady mix of steamy Latino passion and vintage Italian style gore, 'Maya' is an entertaining (if perhaps middle of the road) slice of retro horror fun that fans of off kilter Euro cinema should enjoy quite a bit. Although the film is not in fact as satisfying as Avallone's 'Specters', the film has much to offer fans of 80's horror cinema. The film moves along at a decent pace and Avallone's direction has moments of great style that shows he was indeed an undervalued contributor the Italian horror scene. The cast pretty much get on with their job in a solid manner, with notable performance going to some familiar faces that Euro buffs will pick up on and particular kudos goes to our layabout hero's Latino girlfriend purely for setting the screen alight with her highly charged sexual presence (what a babe!) The sex scenes although not hard core are sure to raise some temperatures and the gore scenes are solid old school Euro horror kills (with a few great moments of outstanding bloodiness), so no complaints there. A bonus is the great soundtrack by Gabriele Ducros that at times sounds like the Caribbean inspired riffs used in parts of Romero's 'Day of the Dead' and adds to the films overall atmosphere no end. The only thing I did find slightly disappointing was the films finale, as the core of the film had built great pace (with some impressive make ups) and you'll feel left lacking by the end reel that really should have delivered more.
That said, as an all round movie I wasn't disappointed. Like a bizarre mix of the Red Shoe Diaries and retro Italian horror (with just a pinch of Fulci's Beyond), 'Maya' may not be everyone's cup of tea but it will be of great interest to fans of retro Euro horror.
Dragon's disc, like the film, is a solid enough package if somewhat basic. The film presentation is pretty cool for what it is; the image is strong throughout with only a tinge of grain showing in a couple of the darker scenes. The 2.0 audio is fine, though I did find the spoken word losing the battle with Ducros score at times (which isn't a big grumble as the it's all still audible, just be warned you'll need to crank it up!) Extra wise, there's a cool trailer that you really should avoid watching until you've watched the film itself (packed with spoilers). If your German's good then there's a nice text interview worth checking out and there's the usual bio pages in there also.
A good solid old school Euro horror flick and a decent solid package from Dragon. Eighties horror enthusiasts, go check it out!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Dragon|
|Not Rated - Region 0|
|Running time - 98m|
|Ratio - Full screen|
|Audio - Dolby digital|
|Trailer, Interview (text) & Biographies|