VIRGIN TERRITORY: THE SECT 1991 dir. Michele Soavi

By now, I’m sure we’ve all seen quite a few movies where an ominous stranger shows up to a gathering uninvited and unannounced, causing chaos and havoc. Hell, I’ve seen one that includes flashbacks from the point of view from a dog. But how many of those same movies include a sequence from the point of view from a rabbit? Once again, we topple into Dario Argento’s wacky animal world in the film he produced, THE SECT, by Michele Soavi. And thankfully, with the recent collaboration between Scorpion Releasing and Doppelgänger Releasing, the film has come to Blu-ray and DVD, with a new HD remaster.

“Please don’t hurt me. I didn’t see anything!”
“You didn’t see anything? Then you missed a great show! It was beautiful. We sacrificed your children, we sacrificed your friends, and now we are going to sacrifice you. Scream! Scream your fucking head off!”

The film’s synopsis from Doppelgänger’s site:
There’s fear around every corner with a diabolical sect on the loose! Kelly Lee Curtis (sister of Jamie Lee) stars as Miriam, an American schoolteacher relocated to Germany in an area plagued by a satanic cult that murders and tears out the hearts of anyone who betrays it. One afternoon Miriam accidentally hits an elderly pedestrian, Moebius (Herbert Lom, The Pink Panther, The Dead Zone), standing in the middle of the road; alarmed, she takes him back to her house to recuperate, only for him to secretly drug her and then secrete a hallucinogenic insect in her nostril. Clearly targeting Miriam for a sinister plan, Moebius triggers an uncanny string of events in Miriam’s life involving nightmares, a diabolical cult leader, Damon (The Church’s Tomas Arana), her magic pet rabbit, and a dark well filled with mystical water. Directed by Michele Soavi (The Church, Stagefright) and produced by maestro Dario Argento (Suspiria, Opera), this hallucinatory shocker now merges from the darkness with a new HD transfer!

Now let’s dig into this morsel.

First off, Curtis is an extremely solid leading lady in this. She’s easy on the eyes, she makes us believe that she has an innate love for children and animals, and when she’s scared, it’s palpable. Sadly, besides this and a small part in TRADING PLACES, she’s not done a huge amount of work, with her last roles in 1998. She still must have a passion for horror, as she directed a documentary THE NIGHT SHE CAME HOME!! for the 35th anniversary release of HALLOWEEN. It makes me curious if the acting bug still has a hold of her and if she has more in her fuel tank as I’d love to see her on screen more.

“Your fridge looks like a cemetery for dead food. You’re supposed to throw it away when it dies, not embalm it!”

The section of this film that has me baffled so much is the writing. Story wise, we have a unique and mystical tale un-weaving before us in an unconventional fashion. But along the way, we’ll get dialogue up above followed by something that would be declined by the most amateurish screenwriter. But while this is frustrating, I can’t fault them on handling a bizarre plot rather systematically, looping back loose ends to have this rapturous cacophony.

The twenty-nine minute interview with Tomas Arana gave both great insight into the making of the film, but also with the differences between American and Italian direction. He discusses both his time working on THE SECT as well as career highlights after that point. There is also a nice 20 minute interview with the director where he explains where they got the idea for the story, and the iconic house structure’s inspiration. The picture quality of the Blu-ray is nice, but nothing outstanding. The audio quality is serviceable, but does have audio pops and crackles from time to time.

Bonus Features

Brand new 2k HD scan of the original negative with 45-hour color correction
New interview with actor Tomas Arana

Director/Co-writer: Michele Soavi

Co-producer/Co-writer: Dario Argento
Cast: Maria Angela Giordano, Herbert Lom, Kelly Leigh Curtis, Michel Adatte, Carla Cassola, Angelika Maria Boeck, Tomas Arana
Running Time: 117 min
Format: 1080p HD widescreen 1.85:1
Sound Format: mono
Rating: NR
Country: Italy
Language: English Language Track

Check out the release directly from Scorpion Releasing and Doppelgänger Releasing here.

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