Review ·

"Love is a force of nature."


"You think you know who you are. You have no idea."


"We will not walk in fear of one another."


"The world was watching in 1972 as eleven Israeli athletes were murdered at the Munich Olympics. This is the story of what happened next."


Although the taglines to today's Oscar nominees speak lovingly to artistic intent (however obvious, crass or dry), they lack the luster of their original purpose: to present an eye-catching message.


"A psycho-sexadelic horror freakout!"


Now there's a tagline. It's unambiguous and clear, and the potential viewer walks away with an understanding of the film's tone and sensibility, not mulling over an ambiguous IMDB quote.


In this realm lies the blunt genius of Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party, which includes the soundtracks to the aforementioned film (Vampyros Lesbos), the equally fetching Sie Totete in Ekstase (She Killed in Ecstasy) and Teufel Kam Aus Akasava (The Devil Came From Akasava). Similar to how the titles alone of this 1971 (s)exploitation trifecta encapsulate the vision of filmmaker Jess Franco, these compositions by Manfred Hübler and Siegfried Schwab offer literal takes on the films. With a parallel sense of twisted verve, the soundtracks go-go, hip-shake and boot-quake to the beat of instrumental hubris (instruments used range from "sitar: hash-fiddle" to "2 Electro-Dissonatar" guitars) and genre kitsch ("The Lions and the Cucumber"). Originally released more than thirty years ago as two limited-press vinyl albums, Crippled Dick Hot Wax has reissued these collector's favorites as one package, complete with bonus tracks.


The title alone should repel those with a low tolerance for the repugnant, but Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party is an exceptional body for surpassing its own expectations. Certainly, the frequent infusion of "exotica" (namely the amateur use of sitar) and hippie chord progressions dates a tune such as "We Don't Care," and the belated nod to the Stones' "Satisfaction" on the lazily revamped "There's No Satisfaction" (these recordings are from 1969, four years after the Stones' song first charted) stumbles through B-level hackwork, but such flubs are practically par for course within the genre. A better characterization of the collection is the drunk swinging from the heels on the moody "Necronomania."


Expert musicianship plays a large role here; elastic bass-work and crisp breaks take "The Ballad of a Fair Singer" and "Kamasutra" into quirky funk territory. More important, the soundtrack expertly captures the midpoint Franco struck between Mario Bava's psychosis and Russ Meyer's tactlessness. In this manner, "The Message" swirls about the gothic beauty of Franco's muse and the star of these films, Soledad Miranda. As a collection that bridges naïve hope with insolent fantasy (both intentionally and unintentionally) Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party may be the score to root for this year.


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