Byleth: The Demon Of Incest - Byleth: The Demon Of Incest(Blu Ray) [Severin - 2019]From the folks at Severin hereís Byleth: The Demon Of Incest a decidedly bizarre slice of euro-exploitation. Originally released in the early í70s the film is a uneven crossbreed between low-key gothic horror, campy period drama, leering soft-core with Giallo-style black glove killings. Here Severin presents us with the first-ever digital release of this oddity- with a blu ray offering a new 2k scan of the film, with sadly no other extras.
Released in 1972 Byleth: The Demon Of Incest was an Italian production- it was the 17th, and third to last film directed by Leopoldo Savona- who over his career moved from period dramas, spaghetti westerns, wartime romances, and Giallo- so not any great grounding in any one genre. And I guess this very much shows with Byleth: The Demon Of Incest, as it goes all over the place for itís nearing hour & twenty-five-minute runtime it flits between candle lite softcore with often voyeuristic intent, period romance drama, Giallo like killings from a black-gloved & camped figure, euro gothic horror with witchcraft touches, and good old over-the-top psychodrama- if you're looking for Euro-exploitation that gives you bit of everything then itís certainly the film for you.
The film focuses in on a small Italian village where a spate of murders have been occurring- all of the victims have been female, often women of the night, and each has been attacked & killed by a mysterious black-gloved & cloaked killer who stabs each victim with a three-pointed knife. Nearby the village lives the brooding- though creepy Duke Lionello- his sister Barbara, has recently returned from a year trip around Europe, and she has brought back her new, older & moustache husband Giordano. Fairly soon it becomes clear that Lionello is a voyeur- as he constantly watching various couples getting-off in & around his castle- though soon after the females in these encounters are offed by the cloaked 'n' gloved killer. We also find out before Barbara went away that she & her brother were carrying out long-running incestuous relations. So is the killer the duke?, the demon heís seemingly summoned up practicing witchcraft?, the hunting obsessed Giordano?, or someone else?.
The film unfolds mostly like a softcore tinged period drama with creepy incest touches- when the killings occurring they are fairly quick & simple, with each been dispatched in the same way- though we do the occasional eerie dragging of bodies. The Ďadultí action is fairly tame softcore- with some full frontally female nudity, and a rewarding trippy & odd angled shot scene where a selection of nude women are calling the dukes name. The gothic horror elements are rather low-key-so certainly if you're watching the film for those youíll be let down. In conclusion Byleth: The Demon Of Incest is an odd mix 'n' match of 70ís euro exploitation tropes- and itís sadly no wholly satisfying as either stand-alone & titillating softcore, mysterious Giallo, or gothic horror- as each element is rather dusted over.
The new print looks good enough for the film's age, though in places it is a little washed-out/damaged- but as this is such a rare oddity that canít be helped. The print here has the options of either German or Italian language, with English subtitles you can switch on & off. Sadly there are no extras here at tall- it would have been nice to have someone like either Kat Ellinger or Stephen Thrower discuss the film, but I guess we canít always expect this from Severin.
In finishing Byleth: The Demon Of Incest is certainly an oddity- and if you enjoy blended euro exploitation from the 1970ís I think youíll get a kick out of this. Just donít go in expecting either a wholly great gothic horror, Giallo or stimulating softcore romp- otherwise, I think youíll be disappointed by what we have here.Roger Batty