Vigil (1984)

    13 year-old Lisa ‘Toss’ Peers (Fiona Kay) lives the bucolic life in an isolated farmhouse located in the middle of frickin’ nowhere (Read: New Zealand) with her family. Her days are a fog enshrouded, wet and rainy party that only gets better when her father takes a tumble and ends up on the better side of dead. A mysterious hunter returns Daddy dearest’s carcass to the family, and his interaction with the family make it seem as though a great doom may be on the way, but Toss remains mostly oblivious as she loses herself to her imagination…possibly the last time childhood games will comfort her as puberty overtakes her.

    Bleak, cold, tense…these are a few words I’d use to describe the ambiance of Vigil…a film that moves as a series of poetic “moments” rather than a solid, cohesive narrative. The stark images play like a dream as our heroine tries to cope to the changes her Father’s death, and the arrival of the hunter (an implied Satan allegory) brings to her family. This is aided in no small part by the misty environs in which the family dwells, which also adds an air of fairy tale visuals to the proceedings. Special mention should be given to the acting prowess of young Fiona Kay who runs a complete spectrum of emotional growth from girl to teenager, and all the inner confusion and change that brings.

    If there is a negative to be had with Vigil it’s that the tension and dread the viewer experiences while watching the film doesn’t have an expected pay-off by times the film reaches it’s conclusion. This may seem unsatisfying to some, but the overall experience of the film is a solid one.

    Along with the feature film, Arrow Video have included some extra features on this Blu-ray release. Included are an informative appreciation of the film from critic Nick Roddick, an archival episode of the TV program Country Calendar that discusses the making of the film, an archival interview with the film’s director, Vincent Ward, and the film’s trailer.

    Equal parts bleak and dream like, Vigil is a both a dark neo-fairy tale and coming of age story full of stark, beautiful imagery and strong acting…a daring film for a viewer looking for something a bit different.

    From one extreme to the other…

    Oasis of the Lost Girls (1982)

    After a night of Disco dancin’, drinking, promises of smoked salmon, and art appreciation (that’s how these things always go, isn’t it?) two women, Annie (Francoise Blanchard) and Nadine (Nadine Pascal)  find themselves drugged and sold as sex slaves to the House of Lost Oasis (just rolls off the ol’ tongue, doesn’t it); a whorehouse located in the African Congo. Once there they go through the typical exploitation workout (you know the drill…untold torments and all that) before trying to escape their fate…attempts that are thwarted on the regular by the sadistic warden (every good sleaze flick needs one) Madame Gaby (Shirley Knight). Can our heroines make it out of the green hell alive?!!

    Brought to you by Eurocine; the same studio that gave us Zombie Lake (which pretty much will tell you if you are in or out right there) Oasis of the Lost Girls is pure sleazy trash…which is exactly what an exploitation flick should be! There is non-stop nudity, sadism, random primates, stock footage, and ludicrous scenarios (including some of the women’s backstories). Adding to the experience, the dubbing in this film is through the fuckin’ roof hilarious; the voices all sound absurd, and when one character refers to the women he sells into white slavery (a horrible scenario I know, but trust me this film deals with subject matter like this with the subtlety of a sledge hammer wrapped in a comic book) as “bangarinos” you’ll be absolutely rolling on the floor clutching your sides…and if you think that’s all the laughs this film has in store, wait until you hear the score (in particular the 5 second loop of “African Music” that plays for what seems like an hour when the women arrive in the Congo; a particularly wonderful tune that manages to be both hilarious in it’s overbearing presence).

    As for special features on this DVD release from Full Moon entertainment you get…some trailers for other Full Moon releases. In this case I can totally understand it; I’m sure anyone and everyone involved in this obscure gem are probably near impossible to track down at this point, so you get a pass on this one FM (hell I couldn’t even find a trailer for this film to include with this review after 3 exhausting seconds searching on Youtube)!

    Bottom line, there is a very specific audience for this type of film; and if you don’t dig on women in prison scenarios, ultra-sleaze, and nudity for nudity’s sake, this movie will definitely not be your cup of tea…but for the rest of you lot, get ready to experience the pure lunacy the genre has to offer, amped up to near catastrophic levels!

    Daniel XIII
    Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

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