The more hours of your life you invest in viewing Horror movies, the more exciting it is when a ‘lost gem’ that you have never heard of let alone watched, surfaces. Looking for a movie called ‘Sex Demons and Death’ in your old books, guides and memorabilia will prove to be a futile task for reasons we will come to in due course. Originally released in 1975, could this Euro occult picture actually live up to its enigmatic promise?

Marcello (Gabriele Tinti) and Micaela (Magda Konopka) are a married couple in their 30’s who are desperate to have children. But we soon glean that Micaela is unable to conceive. Her need is such that she, in effect, opts to adopt her orphaned niece, Letitzia. Letizia’s mother has been dead a while and the young teen has been at boarding school for a few years. However, it is short skirts not nappies that are changed frequently. And the only’ breast feeding’ going on is when Letizia steadily seduces the maid, the servant and indeed her own new surrogate parents!

It’s not just sex that the alluring nymph is after it would appear - she is after their minds as well. Mixing her seductive lure with some outlandish hallucinogenic mutations, the sinister young lady mischievously leads everyone she encounters down a truly destructive path.

But what is the apparent witch’s agenda and how did she get to acquire such powers...?

Fellow Muties... what is there not to coo at with this super rarity from Italy?

Let us start at the beginning with the actual title. SEX DEMONS AND DEATH is emblazoned on the front cover and naturally the menu of the disc. However, the movies original title was "Diabolicamente ...Letizia" (Diabolically... Letizia) and thankfully this is retained in the opening credits.

The actual reels of film that the DVD has been sourced from have obviously taken a real hammering over the years! A very scratchy opening sequence is so poor in fact that the thick red lettering is difficult to make out at times. But I do not offer this fact as a negative facet of the DVD. I have been privileged to have attended film festivals back in the 80’s and 90’s where prints were arduously obtained in order to be showcased. It romantically follows I have more adulation for these rare exhausted prints as oppose to the increasing trend of ‘projectionists’ simply having to press ‘play’ on a digital piece of equipment.

Apart from a few minutes of these abrasive instances, the disc progresses to showcase a very respectable print of the movie in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The sound track has that cinematic crackle gently bubbling throughout which for me was wonderfully endearing as oppose to being a hindrance.

Any doubts of the origins of the DVD’s print are swiftly answered when the actual projector stops and then starts again complete with the audio slowly cranking back into gear! Pure gold! While on the topic of audio its worth mentioning the original Italian language soundtrack dictates the dialogue and the subtitles are clear and painless to follow.

Ok, so onto the actual film. It is a very sexy movie but cunningly stops just short of merely being a softcore venture padded out with tedium. There are numerous sex scenes within the 90 minutes, and barring one gratuitous shower scene with the young anti-heroine, all of them are conducive to the narrative.

The scares within the movie flit between steady atmospheric eeriness and good ole fashioned jump out your seat shocks. Clearly a low budget effort, director Salvatore Bugnatellis does a great job of exploiting sound with stunning eye close up shots of Letizia’s willed stares. The array of malevolent magical prowess is completed with voodoo dolls and a subtle nod of the cap to Exorcist’s lifting bed.

The central character is of course Letizia (pronounced "Le-TEET-see-ah"). Franca Gonella, who plays Letitzia, sadly passed away at the ludicrously young age of 42 back in 1995. The actress, producer and adult model is clearly at the peak of her powers as the mini skirt and kinky boot clad seductress when sexily prowling and subjecting her victims to their fates. I feared I might be a little overly sentimental due to the movies scarcity so gave it a second viewing the day after initially watching it. The best compliment I can pay this occult cinematic curiosity is I thoroughly enjoyed the movie both times.

Huge pat on the back for distributors ONE 7 for unearthing this little treat and also congratulations of an excellent effort with the conversion of celluloid to DVD. It’s just a shame the original title and artwork were not utilized.

Review by Marc Lissenburg

Released by One 7 Movies
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review