The Ritual of Death 1990 Review

Ritual of Death 1990

Directed by: Fauzi Mansur

Starring: Vanessa Alves, Olair Cohen, Paulo Domingues

Review by Luisito Joaquín González

When the clock struck midnight on December the 31st 1989, we weren’t just signalling the final curtain for recent history’s most outrageous decade, we were also bidding farewell to a lifestyle that would never return. As time rolled on from that date, music would change so that someone could have a hit record without even being able to play an instrument or read a note. The introduction of ambulance chasing lawyers would offer a 218972782782762673way that everyone could sue one another and we would all go on to become a generation of Facebook geeks.

Perhaps more important (well to people like you and I dear reader) than the steady decline of our social morals and networking skills is the fact that the superpowers of cinema had totally given up on the slasher genre. Aside from Mirage and Popcorn, I can’t really think of any other decent catalogue entries until Scream reinvigorated things some six years later.

When it came to hunting out production teams with their hearts still in it, the peeps leading the way were those from Central America. That’s right, after the close of the decade, Mexico was the new source for slash-tastic shenanigans from filmmakers with ambition and passion for the genre and they were still competently financed comparatively speaking. The movies from Rubén and Pedro Galindo and Carlos Ortigoza shamed their counterparts from the USA from this point.

But Mexico wasn’t the only Latin American country who wanted to pick up the pace now that the US had abandoned it. Brazilian porn director Fauzi Mansur made two slasher movies in the same year and both were flamboyant 172824and audacious stabs at bringing some life back to the cycle. Ritual of Death is a tad more obscure than Satanic Attraction, but very similar in both its tone and delivery.

An ancient book that has mystic powers falls in to the hands of an actor from a play that’s looking for financing. Before long he becomes possessed by an evil demon, puts on a mask and begins to stalk and slaughter his colleagues one by one.

Ritual of Death is a tough one to judge. I had an idea of a rating in my mind and then I began thinking about it later and felt like watching it again, which is always a good sign. It plays exactly how you would expect a notorious pornographer to roll out a slasher; all excessive nudity and blood and guts. Oh and let’s not forget the sex in a bathtub scene, which involves sex, a bathtub and a recently severed goat’s head. If you think that’s strange, then ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Senhor Mansur. A world where plot takes the back seat and dependence on bloody effects reigns supreme.

There’s a whole host of talking parts that still never become vaguely coherent after three viewings, but from what I can gather the ‘ancient book’ is a Native American translation of an Egyptian scripture of rituals that offer a blood host to the god of death and there’s a medium/priest (well I thought that’s what he was) who looks like a cross between Ernest Borgnine and Donald Pleasance in a bowler hat. Does all of that make any sense? Well who cares when you have strawberry ice cream coloured blood by the bucket load, a seriously hot Brazilian female lead and don’t forget the gooey goat’s head that makes more than one appearance.

As I alluded to earlier, Mansur loves to cover the stage with limbs and fake blood and the words ‘off screen’ are alien to him. There’s one outrageous death scene where a guy is squished by a fog machine on wheels and the maniac then goes on to use the propeller on said appliance to obliterate another wrongly placed unfortunate. You can see it above! All of the kills are strong enough to have got the movie banned in most countries and if exploitation is what you’re looking for, then Mansur is your man of the match.

There’s no real attempts at suspense or mystery and the characters are little more than body count material, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to invest time, money and effort to track this down if you are looking for a decent drama. The director is not a master of building tension and most of his shots are wide framed and simple, but its his effort to be the most audacious with his horror imagery that salvages his lack of more technical talent and he turns each moment of horror in to a carnival. When he is not dismembering his cast with creative methods, then he is allowing his bogeyman to pull off his own face or filling the picture with native rituals or shots of his possessed menace oozing vile green puss from his mouth. Sleaze and slasher aficionados will most definitely get what they’re looking for and it delivers enough for three movies.

282625As was the problem with Satanic Attraction, this has been very poorly dubbed for English speaking markets. It seems that they weren’t watching the film whilst they were reading their lines and they didn’t seem to be working with any kind of dramatic director. It’s a shame, because Ritual is better than that and deserved a more favourable global release. The poor acting ruins things quite a bit and I would have rather read subtitles and seen the performances in their own native tongue than had to listen to a cast that were unmotivated, poorly organised and not in tune with the camp spirit. This was perhaps the biggest negative about the feature.

Still, I was going to give this a one star rating, but after a while, I began thinking that it deserves two. Hell, I’ll give it two and a half. It’s not the most clearly structured movie on the planet, but if you are going to watch an exploitation piece by a notorious porn merchant and expect it to be Citizen Kane, then it’s you who needs to re-evaluate your expectations, not our good friend Fauzi…

Slasher Trappings:

Killer Guise:√√√

Gore √√√

Final Girl √√



Posted on February 22, 2013, in Killer as protagonist, Slasher and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. There’s one or two OK 199Os slashers before Scream.
    I have a soft spot for Pledge Night, Bloodmoon and Happy Hell Night. I know some people don’t, but I think of Candyman as a slasher and it’s much better than Scream. There wasn’t exactly glut .that’s for sure.

    • Did you think of Pledge Night as a slasher? I spent years trying to track it down and in the end considered it to be far too supernatural and extreme. I need to watch it again maybe. Most of my favourite slashers were Mexican from this period. La noche Del Payaso is brilliant 🙂

  2. i saw it as a slasher when i was a youngster, is my defence, but thinking about it .no. You’re right.. Does Dr Giggle’s count ? I really liked that when I was kid..

  3. PS my rationale was that Pledge Night is based on the College prank goes wrong idea and revenge. Also since The Boogeyman, also extreme for its day, has no killer is considered a slasher,, so why not Pledge Night? Then again I still consider the Incubus to be a slasher movie. There is that school of thought that says slashers were specific to the post-Halloween era between 78 to 83 at the latest’ I ‘ve even heard Friday the 13th fans insist that Halloween is not really a slasher because it lacks the characteristic gore and obviouly couldn’t influence itself so is outside of the sub-genre.

    • It’s one of those things that everyone has an opinion right? I would say, for me and entries on a SLASH above, slashers must be continuations of the giallo. So it’s not so much the antagonist, which can be a zombie, human or in the case of The Bogeyman, a ghost; instead I determine a slasher on the way victims are killed. So knife, axe etc. I do not consider A Nightmate on Elm Street to be a stalk and slasher, but have no issue with those that do. It’s not written in stone I guess, just my opinion. I follow the Halloween/Friday/Blood and Black Lace/Black Cheistmas blueprint for the blog, but I’m not against anyone else’s views on what’s a slasher

  1. Pingback: Shock Diversão Diabólica 1982 Review | a SLASH above...

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