Now On DVD: Mondo Macabro's Grexploitation Duo TANGO OF PERVERSION And THE WIFE KILLER
Dacosta Carayan (Kostas Karagiannis), director of both of the films featured in this post, was a very prolific director through the golden age of exploitation cinema. While he didn't always work in genre cinema, according to Mondo Macabro's excellent biography, he seemed to have a knack for it, and Tango of Perversion is a unrelentingly entertaining film that the world is better for having.
The Tango club is the favorite hangout for a group of swingers who live for nothing but pleasure. Rosita, a beautiful lesbian, seduces Joanna by giving her dope. Stathis, Joanna's sleazy boyfriend catches the two women in bed together and takes his brutal revenge on them, ending in Rosita’s death. All this happens in the house of Joachim, a rich playboy who gets his kicks by secretly filming Stathis having sex with girls from the Tango club. Joachim believes he is impotent, until he makes love to Rosita's dead body. After that, things start to get weird...
Sex, drugs, necrophilia, voyeurism and a dose of Greek psychedelia, this film has it all. One of the legendary exploitation films of the early 1970s now makes its US home video debut in a brand new print, complete and uncut.
With such an amazing synopsis, it's hard to believe that the film lives up to the description, but Tango of Perversion does just that. With wonderfully over the top performances from each of its leads, the film presents us with a beautiful, greasy look at a world of exploitation that I never knew existed. Sure, one assumes that every country has its own film industry, but most distributors focus on the more well known regions when it comes to selecting their products. Greece has never been on the map for me, but with director Karagiannis's affinity for European genre cinema, the film takes on a distinctly Italian feel, and it's a wonderful combination.
Star Larry Daniels (Lakis Komninos) is a mustachioed terror in polyester who likes his women kept in check. His buddy Joachim (played by Vagelis Voulgaridis in what is either an awful wig or the worst haircut ever) is the rich voyueristic sleazeball who allows the playboy to use his pad to host his wild sexcapades. When sex, drugs, unwillingly lesbians, voyeurs, and necrophiliacs meet, the results are unavoidably stellar as Tango of Perversion lays out a complex web of betrayal that will leave you giggling in your seat.
Tango of Perversion is not a particularly well-written or well-shot film, in fact it's pretty workmanlike. No fancy camera work, no standout performances, nothing spectacular of note at all. However, the combination of the banal elements with the outlandish plot makes for a lot of kitschy fun. If polyester suits, big '70s hair, beards and mustashioes for days, and goofily misogynistic psychedelic rock excite you as much as they do me, you'll just fine here. Definitely a recommendation.
Mondo Macabro's DVD of Tango of Perversion starts off with a warning about the quality of transfer being at the mercy of the existing materials. However, there's nothing to apologize here. While this isn't the glowing transfer of something like Grindhouse's An American Hippie in Israel, or even Mondo Macabro's own Countess Perverse, it's a perfectly satisfactory 4:3 presentation of a film that hasn't looked anywhere near this good before.
In terms of extras, Mondo Macabro has provided several enlightening features on this disc. The best of the lot is a 25 minute documentary that appears on both discs called Sunshine and Shadows in which Greek cinema expert Akis Kapranos takes us through 30 years of Greek cinema, including this wave of exploitation films. They've packed a lot into this featurette and I found it very engaging. The remainder of the film specific features are text based writings and interviews with cast and crew as well as bios to go along with them. Mondo Macabro are one of the last distribution companies holding on to the practice of putting text based extras on their discs, and I'd much rather them include this material in a booklet or insert in the disc. However, I can see that presenting a cost issue with films are obscure as this. Still, I'm glad the information is there, even if flipping through the screens can get tedious.
Tango of Perversion is a very fun, entertaining, and strange film from a cinema scene I know nothing about, and that's enough to recommend this disc highly.