Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ilsa, The Mad Butcher (Blu-ray Review) - Ascot Elite

USA, Switzerland, Germany/1977
Directed By: Jess Franco
Written By: Manfred Gregor, Jess Franco
Starring: Dyanne Thorne, Lina Romay, Eric Falk
Color/95 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: October 22, 2013

The Film
ILSA, THE MAD BUTCHER aka ILSA, THE WICKED WARDEN was the third film featuring Dyanne Thorne in the lead role as some sort of domineering, sexually charged matriarch. This time Ilsa is in charge of a medical institute for women dealing with sexual issues ranging from Nymphomania to prostitution. This place is designed to set them straight but instead it is more of a playground for Ilsa.

Roughly a year after her sister mysteriously died following an attempt to escape the walls of the institute, Abby infiltrates the hospital posing as a patient in order to uncover the mystery surrounding the death of her sister. Abby quickly finds that patients are abused physically and sexually. If they forget their uniform number it is branded on their chest like cattle. Many of the girls are also forced into sex with the staff, or with each other to make pornography videos. Juana (Lina Romay) is Ilsa's lover and the most powerful patient in the hospital and has her lustful eyes set on Abby. Abby's hell begins when she won't give in to Juana's advances and Ilsa punishes her. Abby is able to learn the details she needs from other inmates facing similar torture and Abby and the inmates band together for an uprising against Ilsa that results in one of the most unexpectedly gruesome endings I've seen in any film.

ILSA' THE MAD BUTCHER has a little bit of everything as far as exploitation films go. It's violent, it's sexy and it is altogether pleasing. It is full of beautiful women, despicable acts and excess. Ilsa's status as a legendary character in alternative cinema was cemented by this point and if you aren't familiar with her don't you think it's time to introduce yourself?

The Audio & Video
Ascot Elite has done a fantastic job on the video transfer of this disc. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks stunning in HD. Skintones are fleshy and natural, never waxy. There are strong textures from clothing to hair and set pieces. Colors are vibrant and lifelike without looking artificial. The jungle outside the walls of the prison are lush and green. A beautiful thing to look at. The 5.1 DTS-HD English audio track sounds very good. The mix is strong and balanced with attetion paid both to dialogue and score. German and Italian tracks are also available in 5.1 DTS-HD while a French track is presented with 2.0 Dolby Digital. English and Japanese subtitles are optional for the tracks.

The Extras
A pretty substantial interview with Jess Franco and producer Erwin C. Dietrich is the main feature here and yes, it is English friendly. Also included is an original trailer for ILSA, THE MAD BUTCHER and several trailers for other titles from the Golden Goya line from Ascot Elite.

The Bottom Line
ILSA, THE MAD BUTCHER is exploitation at its finest and Ascot Elite's Blu-ray release is home video at it's finest. An absolutely fantastic job from the German company that you should absolutely import for your collection!


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