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Macumba Sexual (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Macumba Sexual (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: June 10th, 2022.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, Ajita Wilson
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Severin Films

    Macumba Sexual – Movie Review:

    In Jess Franco’s 1983 film, Macumba Sexual, follows the exploits of a woman named Alice Brooks (Lina Romay, credited once again as Candy Coster and sporting the odd blonde wig she seemed to prefer during this period of her career) who travels with her mustachioed boyfriend, Novio (Antonio Mayans credited as Robert Foster), a writer by trade, to get away for a romantic vacation. Their destination is The Canary Islands where they plan to hang out at a lush hotel and have a lot of sex.

    Not long after their arrival, Alice starts having dreams, sexual fantasies really, about a statuesque black woman who has a naked couple leashed around the neck like dogs. A short time later, Alice’s boss asks her to get in touch with Princess Tara Obongo (played by transsexual actress Ajita Wilson of The Nude Princess), as apparently she’s interested in purchasing some property in Atlantic City. It turns out that Obongo is actually a voodoo priestess and that she’s been using her supernatural abilities to invade Alice’s dreams and is using arcane black magic practices to bring Alice and Novio both into her strange world of unbridled lust and deviant sex!

    Reasonably plotless and chock full of softcore sex that, at times, comes dangerously close to crossing over into hardcore territory, Macumba Sexual won’t likely win over Franco’s detractors but those who appreciate the man’s ability to get the most out of some beautiful, exotic locations and to conjure up that unique sense of strange atmosphere that permeates throughout so many of his features should have no problem enjoying this film. Like a lot of Franco’s movies, there’s an obvious overuse of the zoom lens on display throughout the movie, but that issues aside, it’s very nicely shot and the cinematography, from Juan Soler and Franco himself, does a great job of capturing the writing bodies and ethereal lighting on display. There isn’t much story of character development here and the movie doesn’t always make sense, but it has that certain something that makes the director’s filmography as interesting to explore as it is.

    As to the performances, Romay is her typically uninhibited self, throwing herself into the role without shame and using that unbridled sexual energy she brought to so many roles to his picture as well. Her wig doesn’t ever look like it really and truly belongs on her head in the first place, but it adds an inexplicably cuteness to her look in the film. Mayans seems to sleepwalk through much of the film, and his performance isn’t all that noteworthy for that very reason, but somehow the distance he shows in the part, intentional or not, suits the weird, dreamlike atmosphere that Franco and company manage to conjure up. Ajita Wilson, post op at this point in her life, has an undeniably unique look and screen presence in this picture and is just as fearless as Romay when it comes to throwing herself into the sex scenes. It’s also amusing to see Franco himself show up in a small supporting role as the dimwitted hotel clerk.

    Macumba Sexual – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin's AVC encoded 1080p high definition reissue of Macumba Sexual, which is framed at 2.35.1 widescreen, is quite nice, taking up 21Gbs of space on the 25GB disc. There’s a pretty substantial increase in detail here when compared to the DVD release (which looked fine for its day but now appears pretty soft in comparison). Colors are handled really nicely and the image is very clean, free of all but the tiniest instances of print damage while still retaining some natural film grain. Some minor compression artifacts pop up in a few spots but the image is free of noise reduction and edge enhancement problems.

    The 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono audio, presented in Spanish with optional English subtitles, sounds just fine. Levels are balanced well enough and there isn’t much in the way of hiss or distortion to complain about. The film’s score gets some added depth from the lossless treatment, and clarity is, overall, quite good.

    New to this Blu-ray reissue is The Mirror Of Evil, an interview with Stephen Thrower, the author of Flowers Of Perversion: The Delirious Cinema Of Jesús Franco. Thrower speaks for thirty-nine minutes about how and why Franco became as prolific as he was, the different producers he worked with, having a lot of artistic freedom but little money to make his films when he moved over to Golden Films, Jess and Lina's outlook on the movies that they were making during this period, unreleased projects that were never properly released, visual motifs and recurring themes present in this and other pictures made during this period, the casting of Ajita Wilson and what she brought to the movie as well as her biographical details, some of the locations featured in the picture and Franco's appearance in the movie.

    Carried over from the DVD release is the twenty-two minute Voodoo Jess featurette that interviews the late director as well as Linda Romay. They speak about going back to Spain to make films, making this picture back to back with Mansion Of The Living Dead, the use of voodoo in the movie, Franco’s bit part in the movie, working Ajita Wilson (who they both speak very fondly of and who Franco declares to be a ‘female Christopher Lee’) and more.

    Macumba Sexual – The Final Word:

    Macumba Sexual is an interesting and unusual movie, the kind that Franco was known for, that uses its two compelling female leads and some beautiful camerawork and exotic locations to overcome a thin plot. Severin’s Blu-ray upgrade is a good one, presenting the film in a very nice high definition presentation and with a new featurette lending further insight into the film’s history and unusual appeal.


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