Color, 1992, 92 mins. 48 secs.
Directed by Rick Sloane
Starring Ginger Lynn Allen, Wings Hauser, Jay Richardson, Tamara Clatterbuck, Jesse Kaye
Culture Shock Releasing (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
After redefining cinema as we know it with Hobgoblins, director Rick Sloane entered a decade-long streak of making the six-film Vice Academy series with occasional detours along the way. One of those detours was Mind, Body & Soul, a very off-kilter Satanic crime thriller with the exploitation dream pairing of feverish action icon Wings Hauser and adult film icon Ginger Lynn Allen. There was a hazy Satanic Panic hangover still in the air around this time with multiple films about black-cloaked devilish doings in normal suburban neighborhoods (see Night Visitor and Spellbinder for primo examples), and as usual for the time, this one seems tailor made for straight-to-VHS audiences with a little blood and a decent helping of nudity to justify the R rating (for which it surprisingly didn't qualify at the time).
To celebrate her "90-day anniversary" (which is apparently a thing) with her current boyfriend, Carl (Kaye), Brenda (Allen) gets taken out for a truly special evening: some smooching atop the Hollywood Hills, followed by a Satantic sacrificial party! Too surprised to act quickly, she gets hauled in during a cop raid and only finds an ally in defense lawyer John Stockton (Hauser). Meanwhile she's being perpetually harassed (or in one case, sexually attacked) by pentagram-sporting sickos, while dogged, chain-smoking Detective McKenzie (Richardson) does some investigating of his own. Chases, seances, and other distractions pile up before Brenda has a final reckoning with the cult and its masked leader who has a special plan in store.
Anyone expecting a straightforward thriller (especially of the erotic variety) will be a little baffled by the crazy-quilt nature of this one, which starts throwing weird twists at you in the first two minutes and keeps on going to its own weird drumbeat. Hauser seems more subdued than usual at first but really gets to cut loose as the story progresses, while Allen is solid as always in one of her numerous VHS-friendly genre roles around that time.
Initially issued on VHS by AIP Home Video in the U.S. and a handful of territories in Europe and Canada, this film first appeared on DVD in 2001 from BCI / Eclipse as a double feature with Bad Cop Chronicles. That transfer looked only slightly better than the VHS, presented open matte with plenty of bobbing boom mics and set edges accidentally exposed at the top. Needless to say, the 2022 Blu-ray premiere from Culture Shock is a massive improvement that finally makes this look like a real movie. Detail and color are excellent, and you can finally make out everything going on in some of the darker occult scenes. The surprisingly active DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track has lots of dramatic separation throughout and decodes well to surround, with optional English SDH subtitles provided. Sloane provides a fun and often self-deprecating commentary track chatting about the odd occurrences in the Satanic room set, the one scene that posed censorship issues, the intimidating nature of directing the very tall Hauser, the stock shots swiped from other sources, and the very DIY nature of some of the locations. An archival interview with Sloane, "Rick Sloane: Occult Filmmaker" (13m52s), is a broader overview of the project including more about the censorship issues around the world, some for reasons you might not expect, and a more concise recap of some of the oddities on the set. An archival interview with Allen, "Hell's Belle" (12m59s), touches on the "turbulent" period of her life at the time (dating Charlie Sheen and a short prison stint during the Traci Lords fracas), the segue into working with Sloane, and more fun stories from the shoot including a funny anecdote while shooting at his house. A new interview with art director Mark A. Richardson, "Demonic Art Director" (6m39s), reiterates the strangeness of a few incidents on the production including an argument about whether a demon was lurking on the set! Also included are an HD reconstruction of the original trailer and bonus trailers for Video Murders and Devil Rider.
Reviewed on January 6, 2023.