Waves of Lust (DVD)
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Distributed by RaroVideo
Okay, first things first: The film I’m about to review, Waves of Lust, is not a horror film.
One more time, so you can’t say I didn’t warn you: I’m about to review a non-horror film.
I’ll allow you a moment to gasp, rage, and post a comment below.
Back? Great! Okay, so while Waves of Lust doesn’t necessarily qualify as a horror flick, there’s still plenty here for horror fans to admire. For one thing, it’s a great slice of grindhousey, Euro-trashy, 70s erotic-thrillery fun. For another, it’s directed by Ruggero Deodato (just a few years before he made a splash with horror favorites Cannibal Holocaust and House on the Edge of the Park), with loads of style, sex and violence. And…this site IS called Dread Central. And I assure you, there is plenty of dread to be found in this flick.
Waves follows Irem and Barbara, a carefree young couple who run across Giorgio, a hedonistic bastard of a man who delights in inflicting cruelty upon others (especially his poor lover, Silvia). Perhaps deciding that Giorgio needs something in the way of a comeuppance, Barbara puts herself in Giorgio’s sights, and soon both she and Irem are invited aboard his yacht under the pretense that they are taking a simple pleasure cruise. Of course, nobody seems so deluded as to not recognize Giorgio’s intentions toward Barbara.
Tensions seem to rise almost immediately. While Irem seems passive, Silvia seems to burn with a hatred for both her abusive and philandering boyfriend, and the seductive Barbara (for a while, anyway, as the two women eventually become quite close). Meanwhile, Giorgio constantly toys with his guests, not quite realizing that he himself is being played by the slowly-forming triangle. Portents of doom abound - from heated arguments, to murdered sea life, to a painting in Giorgio’s room that is continually altered with morbid sketches that hint at his oncoming fate. By the time we reach the third act, the film is a pressure cooker bubbling away to an inevitable conclusion…
Waves is most certainly not the best erotic thriller ever produced. Hell, it’s not even the best erotic-thriller-on-a-boat flick ever produced. But it is a genuinely entertaining film carried by its strong acting and, erm…more exploitative elements (seriously, there is a lot of flesh on display in this movie). Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is its willingness to move past its inherent sex and violence and simply focus on the game of wills amongst the four leads. Some dialogue-heavy scenes absolutely crackle with energy, while others are almost unbearably uncomfortable. And, with the exception of a couple of overly-long underwater sequences that pad the running time, the film moves along at a fairly brisk pace.
Unfortunately, it all falls apart at the end. The story takes a back seat as the violence ramps up in the final act, which is dominated by a silly “twist” involving a conveniently available wig and a bit of the ol’ Diabolique. The destination the film arrives at isn’t necessarily a bad one, it’s simply that the final few minutes leading up to it are so very dumb.
In the hands of another director, this film might have come off as incredibly sleazy. But, somehow, Deodato manages to juggle all of the exploitation in this film in such a way that it comes off as being oddly…charming. That is, with one exception: it appears as though an actual eel was butchered on camera for the sole purpose to underscore a character’s cruelty. Deodato would later find himself in trouble for much the same thing with his otherwise brilliant Cannibal Holocaust, wherein a turtle and muskrat were tortured and killed. Why the director felt this was necessary in either film is beyond this reviewer, but it does tend to taint each of the films.
RaroVideo has given Waves a solid DVD here. Perhaps even better than the film itself deserves. The image does bear some scratches, grain, and softness, but this is probably the best the film has ever looked (and those flaws do add to the charm of the flick). Much is the same with the audio. It’s serviceable and unremarkable.
There is a nice set of bonus features to accompany the film, including Erotic Tsunami, a seventeen-minute documentary that has key members of the production (including Deodato) looking back on the film and its making.
Also included are a set of deleted scenes (which are essentially just a handful of extended naughty bits from the English version of the film), a set of TV advertisements directed by a young Deodato, a biography and filmography for the director, and a fully-illustrated booklet featuring a critical analysis of the film written by Eric Cotenas.
To be perfectly honest, it’s not likely that more mainstream genre fans will enjoy this film (and that’s completely understandable). However, enthusiasts of Italian cinema and 70s genre flicks will almost certainly want to check Waves out. In fact, fans of Deodato’s work specifically should definitely view it to witness the director’s evolving style (in both the feature and the included advertisements).
So if you choose to surf these Waves, here’s hoping you enjoy!
Criminy, that last line was cheesy.
2 1/2 out of 5
3 out of 5