DirectorPierre B. Reinhard
Release Date(s)1987 (July 28, 2020)
Studio(s)Samourai Films/Tanagra Productions/Cinefear (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: C
Though it wound up as a home video release in the US, 1987’s Revenge of the Living Dead Girls was quickly recognized as one of the wildest softcore horror hybrids of its era. Directed by porn director Pierre B. Reinhard, its mix of plot, sleaze, and gore is a curiosity for even the most hardened of genre fans, particularly those with a penchant for entertainment outside of normal circles—and Revenge of the Living Dead Girls is as far from normal as you can imagine.
In a small French village, a local company is illegally dumping toxic chemicals to save money. Some of those chemicals pollute the town’s milk supply, which causes the deaths of three young women. Meanwhile, a secretary for the company is secretly plotting to blackmail her boss for a rather handsome sum, but after the three women climb out of their graves and start killing people horribly, money seems to be the farthest thing from everyone’s mind.
Revenge of the Living Dead Girls loses focus as to what its actually about on a number occasions, stopping for multiple plot points that sometimes go nowhere. The film’s twist ending attempts to, as its director puts it, “demystify” the horror elements, but in a nonsensical way. It’s clear that it wasn’t totally thought out and that the idea for an ending that tosses out all of the supernatural elements was put in simply for the sake of it. It totally refutes the actions of the titular dead girls, whose murderous activities are way outside the realm of typical. It doesn’t help that not all of their victims play into the ultimate scenario either. They seem to be random, and when the attempt at a twist occurs, none of it winds up making any sense. It’s all very sloppy.
That said, it’s difficult to lob criticism at a film wherein a dead baby suddenly protrudes from its pregnant mother while she’s in the shower—never mind the genital mutilation of some of the victims. Revenge of the Living Dead Girls is a shock film that attempts to have a story, but doesn’t want to be what it is, leaving you with a quasi-unfinished feeling at the end.
Severin Films debuts the film on Blu-ray for the first in the US, utilizing a recently-struck HD master of the longer version of the film, which incorporates a few more minutes of softcore elements. The source isn’t mentioned but it’s likely either the camera negative or an interpositive. It’s a quality presentation with healthy grain and no compression issues. Detail is high, particularly in the shadows as blacks appear solid and deep. The color palette doesn’t offer a wide range of hues, but colors are represented well with natural skin tones. Contrast and brightness levels are also ideal. The image is stable as well, with the only leftover damage relegated to speckling and minor frame damage in a couple of scenes.
The audio is presented in French 2.0 mono DTS-HD and English 2.0 mono Dolby Digital. Optional English subtitles are provided for both tracks. The French track offers more of a presence to the various elements, including the score. The dubbed dialogue on both tracks is loose, particularly on the French track as the film was shot in English. Besides its lossy quality, the Dolby Digital track is also flatter comparatively. On the French track, you can tell where the trims for the shorter version occurred since the quality of the audio dips significantly.
The following extras are also included:
- Revisiting the Revenge: Jean-Claude Roy and Benoit Lestang (HD – 13:29)
- The Revenge of Pierre B. Reinhard (HD – 21:54)
- Inside Studio Lestang (HD – 15:26)
- French Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:43)
In Revisiting the Revenge, Jean-Claude Roy and Benoit Lestang (in vintage footage) reminisce about how they met through Jean Rollin, the use of a fake baby for a particularly gory effect, making the masks for the actresses, casting the film, dealing with censors, the film’s release, and its distribution. In The Revenge of Pierre B. Reinhard, the director talks about his background, getting into the film business, working as an editor, working in pornography, the making of the film, making horror films in general, dealing with the film’s rating, and his slow transition from film to video. In Inside Studio Lestang, we are given a tour of Benoit Lestang’s special effects studio, showing off items from the many films that he worked on. The trailer is an HD recreation. It’s worth noting that several overseas releases on DVD and Blu-ray feature a number of other bonus materials, including additional interviews, trailers, and the film’s soundtrack.
Revenge of the Living Dead Girls is for the heartiest of genre fans only. It’s the kind of film you throw on to enjoy with a group of friends, working better as a satire of sorts than a straight horror experience. Severin Films offers the film with a nice HD transfer and decent extras.
– Tim Salmons