Ominous opening titles are all dark and ding, while eerie music groans mordantly out from the TV speakers.

As the dry ice clears, a succession of slogans appears on screen: See Me Live; Watch Me Bleed; Paint Me Black; Hang Me Dead. Ooh, spooky.

Then the electronic dirge continues to grind against the soundtrack (actually it's fairly incessant throughout) as a heartbeat races to the fore. An unseen figure flicks through a handful of photographs. Each photo presents a different member of sultry Goth chick collective, the Satanic Sluts.

From hereon in, BLACK ORDER becomes a series of low-budget vignettes showcasing the girls in various horrific predicaments.

The first episode - "Nightmare Surgery" - sees blonde Dominik Destruction in her traditional nurse uniform, waking strapped to a stretcher. Two voluptuous brunettes enter and prise her mouth open with a steel contraption, shovelling poisonous pills down her throat. She's then wheeled down a green-lit corridor and into another room where the sloppy surgery commences �

"Noctambulist" comes next, employing much the same smoke-filled visuals and slow, lingering photographic style. This sees an unassuming brunette in a white dress stumble across a mummified figure. She gets fresh with the figure before turning her back and walking away. Er, that's it!

The comes the first of a series of on-screen interviews with individual members of the Sluts, designed to let us get more familiar with them - or their views on certain topics, at least. These interviews are peppered variously between the vignettes and offer virtually the only dialogue in what is essentially a 70-minute vanity project.

The first interview is with Destruction, who speaks into the camera talk-head-style. Subjects appear as text on the screen as she offers her distinctly non-shocking opinions on each one: war, organised religion, abortion and so on. I thought these girls were meant to be scary? Or sexy? Or both? They're so � ordinary!

Then it's back to the admittedly stylish "Crawl", which plays on the laboured fetish of owning a fellow human being as a pet (in this case, a naked woman chained as a dog). It's clich�d and old-hat, certainly, but it's visually arresting and benefits from a stirring electronic song that rips off the riff from Rocket From The Crypt's "On A Rope".

"Remains" is a red-hued and slickly edited montage of a dark-haired Kerosene rubbing gore across her torso for a minute or so. It means nothing, but I won't deny I found it hard to tear my eyes away from the screen �

Then it's off for an interview with Kerosene herself, covering pretty much the same topics that her colleague earlier had (and that the others - Poisoned Venus, Dischordia etc - will answer later).

In-between the remaining interviews, the vignettes continue - a vampire drooling blood here, a catfight in a nightclub there - offering bargain-basement variations on what would normally constitute a Marilyn Manson promo video. It's all very stylish, quite arty at times and well-lit � and more than just a tad portentous.

Nigel Wingrove (VISIONS OF ECSTASY; SACRED FLESH) directs, so expect some fake blood on boobs and the obligatory shots of a nun being crucified. Surely this latter scene of blasphemy is the only reason this otherwise tame extended advertisement has been classified '18' by the BBFC.

My main problem is that seeing these women cavort against each other and scowling while dribbling stage blood from their loose lips just isn't creepy OR erotic. It's all a bit na�ve, a little schoolboyish in its desperate attempt to shock. And quite clumsily executed, truth be told.

The film looks good in a respectable transfer that provides strong colours and rich detail. Some grain is present in the odd scene, and a few clips are softer in focus than others. But this is down to the various mediums that Wingrove has shot on.

As a result this means the aspect ratio also changes at times between 1.78:1 and 2.35:1. The transfer is enhanced for 16x9 TV sets, and overall is a step up from what we've seen previously from Redemption.

The English 2.0 audio is a reliable, problem-free proposition.

Static menu pages include a scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 18 chapters.

There's not an abundance of extras, but here's what we do get:

An attractive photo gallery showcasing 21 on-set stills taken by Gemma Betts, and a further 13 screenshots. These play as a combined whole that lasts approximately 2-and-a-half minutes.

A 95-second trailer that presents hot women, black underwear and a thumping Industrial rock track - all of which conspire to create Goth nirvana. Rousing stuff.

A teaser for the book "The Black Order Cometh", a very glossy-looking affair highlighting the girls in all their colourful, ludicrous glory. This advert is 40 seconds long.

"Poledancing at Black Mass" is precisely what it's title suggests: 94 seconds of scantily clad girls gyrating against poles in Satanic nightclub Black Mass, as an old-fashioned techno track plays over the footage (you know, the type of thing Revolting Cocks churned out a couple of decades ago). Still, if your eyes can handle the flashing strobe lights, you'll no doubt enjoy watching the lasses dance.

Next up is a 5-minute stage performance of "Frankenstein" at Black Mass. This would be too embarrassing to sit through were it not for the fact the camera wobbles so much it's nigh on impossible to see what's going on. Fake blood and more black lingerie are the order of the day here.

Finally we get trailers for NATURE MORTE and BLACK MASS.

I suppose BLACK ORDER would work best playing silently on LCD screens in a rock club, where the DJ's pounding music could replace it's terminally grinding soundtrack and people could talk, dance or drink themselves stupid in-between the odd moment of stylish fetishism or minor gore.

At the very least, this DVD introduces the Satanic Sluts as this country's version of The Suicide Girls (a dubious honour? Your call), and proves that Wingrove would be better suited to directed music promos.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Salvation Films
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review