VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST (1974) — This Mummy is Crummy

Voodoo Black Exorcist was released on Blu-ray and DVD by The Film Detective on May 23.

The Tom Cruise-starring The Mummy has disappointingly stumbled out of the gate as an ambitious universe-launching reboot of the Universal Monsters franchise, but one of the nice side effects of any high-profile remake is a renewal of commercial interest in releasing other related movies. Universal has taken advantage of the franchise’s visibility by putting out new editions of both their classic (Karloff) and modern (Fraser) Mummy collections, much to the delight of fans and collectors.

Whether by design or mere circumstance, another vintage mummy film has also just arrived on Blu-ray. The abysmal Voodoo Black Exorcist hits high definition with a new transfer courtesy of the obscurity-loving cineastes at The Film Detective.

While most Mummy stories are centered on the traditional Egyptian variety, Voodoo Black Exorcist is the Caribbean-set story of Gatanebo, a Voodoo mummy who wakes up in modern times aboard a luxury cruise ship on which his sarcophagus is being transported.

It’s exactly as bad as it looks.

All-too plentiful flashbacks reveal that in his previous life, he and his lover, apparently adulterers (and in woefully unfortunate blackface), were caught and executed by a frenzied mob. Upon waking, the resurrected Gatanebo stalks the ship seeking vengeance, murdering passengers whom he imagines or remembers as his executioners (the film complies by having them played by the same actors).

Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as exciting as that might sound (and it doesn’t even sound that great). The film’s first half is excruciatingly dull, assailing the viewer with non-sequitur editing, detestable and dopey characters, and some of the most awful, repetitive music I can recall in any film. And while it’s perhaps not fair to criticize a foreign film for its localization, let’s also be clear that the dialogue and dubbed voice acting (the only language option on the disc) are completely atrocious.

This may be the worst line delivery of all time.

Gatanebo himself alternates between a wrinkled Mummy-like appearance and a rejuvenated human (or in Brendan Fraser terms, “juicy”). Presumably he drains the life force from his victims, though the film doesn’t really make any effort to be very consistent or explanatory about this.

Gatanebo smashes a victim into a mirror — in which the film crew is clearly visible.

In its defense, the film does sometimes try to be novel with voyeuristic camera work, gialloesgue lighting, or surrealistic tendencies. And our mummy does murder one of his victims by placing his unconscious body in front of a steamroller — that deserves some recognition.

“Just lie flat. No, flatter.”

Thankfully the plot begins to pick up in the second half as he tries to seduce a plucky woman who reminds him of his old lover. Meanwhile, passengers and police alike start to close in on our murderous mummy, stalking him to the cave where his sarcophagus was found, culminating in a jarringly abrupt and chilling conclusion.

It’s true that some viewers will love this dreck as an absolutely insane bit of 70s Euro-horror awfulness, which it certainly is. Generally I can appreciate that sort of thing, but to me Voodoo Black Exorcist was just bad all around.

The Package

The Film Detective’s region-free release of Voodoo Black Exorcist sports a new 2K scan from a 35mm print. While it’s far from great looking, this is certainly a remarkable effort at preserving and presenting the film in the best quality possible. The dubbed audio quality is pretty rough; probably unavoidably so.

Special Features and Extras


A/V Out.

Get it at Amazon:
Voodoo Black Exorcist — [Blu-ray] | [DVD]

Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have slight compression inherent to file formats. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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