Vinegar Syndrome unleashes the Eurosleaze sexploitation possession flick “Malabimba” from the director of the Italian zombie classic “Burial Ground”.
The latest Vinegar Syndrome release, Malabimba (aka The Malicious Whore), hits my particular genre sweet spot. The movie is a 1970s-era Eurosleaze, sexploitation film from Italy, AND is a possession horror story that borrows from The Exorcist.
Vinegar Syndrome brings genre fans the definitive home video release of Malabimba with a 2K restoration of the fully uncut and uncensored version of the film.
Malabimba opens with a séance at a family estate. The medium is attempting to contact the wife of Andrea (Enzo Fisichella), but mistakenly calls up an ancestor named Lucrezia, a spirit obsessed with lust and sexual hijinks, as well as revealing the secrets and hypocrisy of the Caroli family.
After sexually assaulting a couple of members of the séance group, the spirit or demon Lucrezia makes its way to a nun who is staying at the estate as a caregiver to Andrea’s brother Adolfo (Giuseppe Marrocu). Adolfo is paralyzed and unable to communicate, as well as co-owner of the estate and castle with his brother Andrea. The nun, Sister Sofia (Mariangela Giordano), is alone in her room when she is attacked by the spirit.
Lucrezia attempts to possess Sister Sofia and seduce her by opening her up to sexual desires. Sofia rejects the possession attempt, and Lucrezia ends up finding a more willing host — the 16-year-old daughter of Andrea, Bimba (Katell Laennec).
The possession causes a sexual awakening in Bimba.
Not only does she explore her newly found sexual desires, but she sneaks around the estate spying on her family, uncovering their own repressed sexual fetishes. Amidst all this, it becomes clear that Lucrezia is not done with Sister Sofia.
Malabimba, for a movie that is clearly influenced by the Oscar-winning film The Exorcist, manages to stay away from the stereotypes that would bring direct comparisons. If you’re expecting vomit spewing or the decaying flesh of the possessed, you won’t find it in this film. When you break it down, Malabimba is, for most of its running time, a family soap opera. It’s the story of a matriarch trying to push her son to marry his brother’s wife (and the brother isn’t even dead yet) to ensure that the partial ownership of the state doesn’t go to her daughter-in-law.
Yet, even without the graphic horror that fans are accustomed to from possession films, there’s a creeping feeling while watching the movie that a terrible fate will befall all, or one, members of the family.
There are some scenes that border on the farcical.
For example, during the séance the ghostly presence makes a male guest erect and then unzips his pants before ripping the top off a female guest. It wouldn’t be out of place in a sex-comedy romp, like Scary Movie.
One character among this crazy genre film stands out, and she’s not even possessed or a target for being possessed. Nais (Patrizia Webley) is the wife of Adolfo, by her admission essentially single for five years and yearning for a sexual partner. She’s overtly sexual and in control of every situation. She’s the least affected by what’s happening to Bimba because she’s understanding of a woman exploring her sexual side.
Bimba’s family is ill-equipped to fathom what’s happening because they won’t admit their issues to themselves.
Nais is not only the strongest character in the movie, but she’s the smartest and most likable.
In our current era she would be thought of as a powerful feminist figure.
MALABIMBA is a must own Blu-ray for any fan of possession and/or Italian cult films. Come for the supernatural, the abundant nudity, and the ill-fitted porn scenes spliced into the softcore scenarios but stay for an intriguing story of a family on the brink of collapse and a girl caught between being a good daughter and exploring her fledgling sexuality.
Vinegar Syndrome releases can live or die on their special features and presentation of a restored film. To be honest, there are some movies Vinegar Syndrome releases that are, let’s say, hard to sit through. In the case of Malabimba, the movie and special features equally add to the quality of this release.
There is an interview with actress Mariangela Giordano, who played Sister Sofia, as well as cinematographer Franco Villa. Both have kind words about Malabimba, and they both have great insight into the making of the movie. Giordano talks, among other subjects, about how she got the role, acting while gravely ill in a moldy and cold castle room, and not being able to go to a hospital because the movie didn’t have insurance.
Villo discusses the filming of the movie, working with the cast, and his incredulous discovery of the spliced-in hardcore sex scenes.
The true treasure of the special features is the feature film commentary from historians and authors Samm Deighan, Heather Drain, and Kat Ellinger. They converse easily, are clearly having fun, and speak more like uber-fans than historians. If you’re looking to have some knowledge dropped about possession films and Italian horror, then this is the commentary track you need to listen to.
Vinegar Syndrome has released an absolute gem of a cult movie on Blu-ray. Malabimba, is the right kind of insane to please the most critical horror fan. The features on the disc are as entertaining as they are enlightening about the film.
I would also be remiss, as a fan of such things, if I didn’t mention that a theatrical trailer is included on the disc. It seems like a small thing, perhaps, but I love watching trailers and getting some insight into how movies are marketed. Let’s face it, trailers for these older movies are sometimes as good as or better than the movie.
Malabimba on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome is one of the company’s best releases.
THE SPECIAL FEATURES
- Newly scanned & restored in 2K from its 16mm original negative
- “Malabimba Uncovered” — interviews with actress Mariangela Giordano and cinematographer Franco Villa
- Brand new audio commentary with film historians and authors Samm Deighan, Heather Drain, and Kat Ellinger
- Original theatrical trailer
- Reversable cover artwork
- Limited edition slipcover (2,000 units)
- Blu-ray/DVD combo
- English SDH subtitles
For more information and to purchase Malabimba, visit Vinegar Syndrome here.