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DEATH SHOCK
DVD region 0. DVD-R.

Death ShockAlthough he now chooses to remember it more as a collaborative project, at the time of Death Shock's home video release in 1981 directorial credit was assigned to one Lindsay Honey (aka Steve Perry, best known now as the man behind the Ben Dover gonzo series). Indeed, nowadays Perry has distanced himself from this softcore sex feature and happily bestows the lion's share of the credit upon its writer/producer Bill Wright (better known as hardcore director Frank Thring).

The plot is as slight as slight gets. Three young couples (two male/female, one female/female) are out for an afternoon of al fresco frolics in the country when their car breaks down. Stranded, they are picked up by a comedy vicar in a vintage car (this is British, after all) and seek refuge in an isolated house where their upper class host secretly spikes the evening meal with aphrodisiacs. Of course, the delirious guests spend the night copulating furiously in a variety of combinations. But events take a sinister turn when one of the girls learns that their host and his friends are dabblers in the Black Arts...

Shot on video during the format's relative infancy, Death Shock starts off promisingly enough with a fun pre-titles sequence in which a female cyclist stumbles upon a Satanic ritual in the woods. Regrettably, these first few minutes set up a level of expectation that the rest fails to meet.

Foremost in the disappointments department are the sex scenes, which account for most of the 47-minute running time but are unimaginative and lamely staged. There doesn't even appear to have been an attempt to push the boundaries of porn acceptability.

The dialogue delivery, particularly from the women, is amateurish and handicapped by that monotonous insincerity that Brit porno players seem to have worked into a fine art. Of the participants, only Linzi Drew is recognisable or went on to do anything else of note; long-time partner of Perry, Drew also had cameo roles in films like An American Werewolf in London and The Lair of the White Worm. As a side note, if anyone out there can identify the cute cyclist in the pre-credits - or any of the uncredited players for that matter - do please get in touch!

With precious little in the way of gore or chills to appeal to horror movie fans, nor anything near sufficient in the way of naughtiness, Death Shock was pretty feckless upon its original release and is pretty feckless still. Yet in an unpredictable twist of irony, those intervening years have lacquered it with a curious naive charm. In spite of the lambasting I've afforded it, as a quaint remnant of those early days of Brit-shot smut, it's totally priceless. In fact, with hindsight one might even take a moment to lament that Death Shock II never materialised beyond the tacky Letraset promise on the closing titles!

Never likely to be deemed deserving of an official release on DVD, the DVD-R of Death Shock currently circulating should be snapped up without hesitation, if only for its retro or curiosity appeal. Lifted from a fairly healthy VHS source, it even includes the bonus 10 minutes of bloopers (which prove, if nothing else, they had fun making it) and a trailer for the much earlier Blood on Satan's Claw that bolstered up the original UK tape release.

TIM GREAVES

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