Color, 1988, 83 mins. 55 sec.
Directed by Damián Acosta Esparza, José Medina
Starring Noé Murayama, Princesa Lea, Ana Luisa Peluffo, Marisol Cervantes, Manuel "Flaco" Ibáñez, Arturo Mason, Juan Moro, Fidel Abrego
Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
Even though it didn't get an official English-friendly release until the 2023 Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome, the ultra-trashy shocker El violador infernal (or The Infernal Rapist) has been a bit of a notorious title on the tape trading circuit thanks to its wildly tasteless storyline and insane visuals. Sort of like a Nikkatsu pink film interpreted by Mexican maniacs, it's a relentlessly entertaining and frequently jaw-dropping piece of cinematic provocation you'll never believe actually saw the light of a projector.
Just as he's being plopped in the electric chair as punishment for his brutal string of homicides and sexual assaults, the notorious Carlos (Murayama), known as El Gato, is visited by a flamboyant demon (Peluffo) and her two minions in glittery Bob Mackie dresses. Her offer: live on in human form and enjoy all the earthly pleasures in sight (including a perpetual supply of drugs), as long as he rapes anyone he can and delivers them as offerings with a "666" carved into their flesh. He agrees and immediately picks his first victim, a young gay man (Mason) he tries to hook on heroin before brutally stabbing and raping him on the couch. From there it's a nonstop parade of debauchery and savagery with El Gato using his (never really explained) supernatural gifts to entice and attack more victims, mostly plucked from the neighborhood beauty salon / brothel, while the outrageously bigoted police can't figure out how the executed criminal's handiwork seems to be continuing.
The premise might sound like the most offensive film imaginable, but The Infernal Rapist is so gleefully ridiculous and entertaining you'd have to be a real sourpuss to be morally outraged. The escalation of Murayama's capabilities -- like shooting lasers out of his eyes or causing people to levitate in the air -- keeps everything at an absurd pitch all the way to the end, while the Satanic emissary parades so many flashy gowns you'll think it's an '80s TV variety special. Murayama is utterly unhinged throughout, serving as the maniacal centerpiece for a cavalcade of sleaze that never lets up.
In keeping with Vinegar Syndrome's tradition of outfitting once derided Mexican genre films with deluxe editions that put most studio catalog releases to shame, The Infernal Rapist is presented with a terrific a/v presentation from a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative. You can chuck out any ancient VHS bootleg dupes pronto; this is a sterling presentation with vibrant colors and nice, rich blacks that retain the intentionally scruffy look of the original production. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 Spanish mono track sounds solid as well and features optional English subtitles. No less than three new interviews have been commissioned with personnel from the film's cast starting with Juan Moro (4m23s) briefly chatting about his various pursuits (pilot, bike racer, mechanic) and how he ended up being cast in the film as a cop after pulling duty behind the scenes as well. Then Fidel Abrego (5m7s) discusses his reluctance to watch his own work and his career spanning over 40 years with lots of ups and downs. Finally Arturo Mason (6m16s), who easily gets the most memorable appearance of the trio, looks back at his multiple projects with this crew (including the astounding Intrépidos Punks) and his approach to the role of the ill-fated first victim, which required some understandable psychological prep with peculiar things happening on set at the same time. Also included is an audio essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (18m18s) about the process of evaluating exploitation films.
Reviewed on February 19, 2023.