Blu-ray Review: Lucifer’s Women

Anton LaVey understood that the best way to get the word out about his Church of Satan was to be the devil worshipping consultant to filmmakers. Supposedly he lied about being part of Rosemary’s Baby, but he did get phone calls from a few producers and directors to bring that special touch of wickedness to their production. LaVey seemed to be the expert on how to make your fictional rituals look completely demonic instead of an episode of Dragnet. Plus have LaVey as an advisor was the ultimate way to make sure the Holy Rollers would protest your film and thus get all the devious theatergoers into the seats. LaVey thus was called to beef up the rites found in the indie flick Lucifer’s Women.

Dr. John Wainwright (Friends & Breaking Bad‘s Larry Hankin) has turned his back on academics and is striking it big with his new book about reincarnation. In order to make things extra hot for the tome’s launch, he claims that he is reincarnated from the great controller of people Svengali. This is not the same as MeTV horror host Svengoolie who has no power over rubber chickens. Turns out the book is getting a major push because the publisher Sir Stephen (Norman Pierce) swears he’s the reincarnation of the head of a Satanic coven called The Society of the Bleeding Rose. He swears that the two of them were destined to meet and perform a sacrificial ritual that will allow Sir Stephen to transfer his soul into a person. He’s already picked out the new host. She’s an exotic dancer (Jane Brunel-Cohen) that’s still a virgin. But there’s also another person wanting to control her. A pimp (erotic film legend Paul Thomas) wants her in his stable and be her first lover. It’s a strange race against the clock that might have to be decided by Satan himself.

The film is weird and enjoyable. Dr. Wainwright looks like he escaped from a dinner theater’s production of Ivan the Terrible. The movie is able to blend the wicked ceremonies with quite a bit of carnal activity. Sadly even with the Anton LaVey angle, Lucifer’s Women didn’t set the exploitation theater box office on fire. How could this be? The distributor had to make its money back somehow which leads us to a second “film” that’s included on the disc. Doctor Dracula is basically what happened when Al Adamson (Dracula vs. Frankenstein) was brought in to recut the film so it could be part of a broadcast TV package. All of the adult content was snipped away and scenes were shuffled so that it became a big mess. There are new scenes that feature John Carradine and Susan McIver. They even changed the name to Doctor Dracula. What made it even a bigger mess was that the theatrical cut of Lucifer’s Women was lost. When it finally appeared on VHS, people could only see the butchered version although odds are they had no idea that there was a theatrical cut with a different title. They must have thought the film they saw at 3 a.m. on the low rated UHF station was the answer. Now after all these decades, Vinegar Syndrome gives us Paul Aratow’s true vision of evil, control, reincarnation and less clothing.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer allows you to get a bit of a chuckle at some of the make up jobs in the film. The audio is DTS-HD Mono. You’ll hear the doctor doing his best to take control of others. The movie is subtitled.

Commentary track with Sam Sherman, the producer of Doctor Dracula on Doctor Dracula. He fills what happened on the original film and the big reworking.

Video interview with Paul Thomas (20:04) has him discuss how he came out to L.A. after starring on stage in Jesus Christ Superstar. He recounts how he slowly went from standard movies to adult films with an occasional indie flick that was erotic in nature.

Original theatrical trailer (2:05) for Lucifer’s Women. How was this not a hit at the Cinderblock cinema?

Digital essay by Samm Deighan appears on the screen. Press pause between each page.

DVD has both films and bonus features.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Lucifer’s Women. Directed by: Paul Aratow. Screenplay by: Paul Aratow & Stephen C. Apostolof. Starring: Larry Hankins, Susan Bonthron, Jane Brunel-Cohen, Robert W. Carr. Rated: R. Running Time: 96 minutes. Released: January 30, 2018.

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