(a.k.a. VEIL OF BLOOD; VAMPIRE ECSTASY; DER FLUCH DER SCHWARZEN SCHWESTERN; VEIL OF LUST; CURSE OF THE BLACK SISTERS; DEN PORNOGRAFISKE JUNGFRUN)
Helga (Swedish softcore star Maria Forsa, MOLLY, BEL AMI) arrives by train in the German countryside. She is escorted up into the hills by horse and carriage to a grand foreboding castle. Once there, the sinister housekeeper and her two black-clad assistants show Helga to her room.
Within moments, Monika (Ulrike Butz, EROTIC YOUNG LOVERS; WHAT SCHOOLGIRLS DON'T TELL) arrives at the castle entrance with her blonde friend. The girls are similarly shown to their rooms by the brooding housekeeper. When asked if the girls can share their room, the housekeeper says it is out of the question.
After settling in, the three women meet downstairs where the housekeeper shows them a painting of the late Baroness Varga - of whom Helga and Monika are descended. We learn that the castle originally belonged to the Baroness, and was last occupied by the girls' recently deceased aunt.
As evening approaches, a young couple knock at the castle door, explaining that their car has broken down and they need somewhere to stay for the night. The housekeeper takes them in and listens with great intensity in her eyes as the lady introduces herself as Doctor Julia malenkow (Anke Syring, BIBI: CONFESSIONS OF SWEET SIXTEEN), who is in the area to study the local superstitions. Her brother Peter (Nico Wolferstetter, CONFESSIONS OF A SEXY PHOTOGRAPHER) has merely come along for the ride.
The guests retire to their respective rooms for the night, but each one is awoken by tribal drumming emanating from the castle's cellar. It seems the housekeeper and her maids are privvy to dancing in the nude around flames, chanting incoherent babble in the middle of the night.
This ritual has a startling effect on Peter, who masturbates in his sleep - moaning so loud that Julia rushes into his room and catches him in the act. When he wakes, Julia advises that they must wear cloves of garlic around their necks at night, just in case ...
The following morning Julia tells her fellow guests that Baroness Varga was burnt at a stake 400 years ago, persecuted by local villagers for her love of virgin female blood. What's more, she predicts that if a medium is present in the castle - a high priestess, if you will - they will no doubt be hoping to ressurrect the unholy Baroness.
Helga misses the end of the story, however, as she wanders out of the room and has an impromptu grope with Peter. Not sure where this scene even came from, but suddenly Peter and Helga are horny for each other in virtually every scene they share together. Strange.
But then, THE DEVIL'S PLAYTHING is a strange movie throughout. Scenes cut away midway through dialogue, then return to the same conversation but in completely different surroundings. Situations will arise (Helga masturbating, for example) quite literally out of nowhere, with no explanation or consequence whatsoever. In terms of editing, THE DEVIL'S PLAYTHING is utterly shambolic.
The photography is generally ugly too, with the grandiose castle setting and beautiful German landscapes totally wasted on the untalented eye of director Joseph Sarno (DEEP THROAT 2; INGA).
The acting is universally piss-poor, with stitled deliveries of dialogue and some of the most awkward nude "dancing" you've ever seen. And if it's gore or horror you're after, forget it - Sarno hasn't got a clue how to evoke atmosphere or film a special effect (the scene where Julia's shirt is ripped off by "bats" is funny as fuck).
In it's favour, THE DEVIL'S PLAYTHING has a chase through the woods (a necessity of 70s horror!), and plenty of female nudity at regular intervals. Oh, and it was curiously enjoyable watching Abi Titmus-lookalike Forsa giving a candle a blowjob!
Shock-O-Rama's Retro disc presents the movie in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Whether or not this is the original aspect ratio, I'm not sure - the framing is so ugly that it's hard to tell. The picture quality is just okay - there's a lot of print damage at times, while images are generally dark and saturated. It's watchable, and the quality does improve as the film progresses.
The English mono audio track is unremarkable but solid.
Extras include a 6 minute interview with Sarno, who cites his influences as the old 30s Universal movies such as DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN. He also talks about the lighting in THE DEVIL'S PLAYTHING. Yes, there are some red lights used in THE DEVIL'S PLAYTHING.
Trailers for WOMEN'S PRISON MASSACRE, SLIME CITY, CRIMINALLY INSANE and SATAN'S BLACK WEDDING also feature.
Finally, there's a good 8 page booklet with comprehensive liner notes from Sarno biographer Michael J Bowen.
The disc has an animated scene selection menu, allowing access to the main feature via 10 chapters.
Not one of Shock-O-Rama's best efforts, but worth a look if you like your 70s-style erotic vampire flicks ... and aren't too demanding!
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Shock-O-Rama|
|Region 1 NTSC|
|Extras : see main review|