Cult Double-Shot: BYLETH: THE DEMON OF INCEST Blu-ray Review (Severin Films)

When you blame your sister attraction on a "demon"

2.5

In Cultsploitation’s “Double-Shot” series, both co-editors Ryne and Michael engage in a conversation about the film in question. Sometimes it’s because they both loved it; sometimes it’s to get two different perspectives on a controversial film; and sometimes it’s just to describe how much both of them didn’t like it.

RYNE

So Byleth: The Demon of Incest (known in its German language as the rough-sounding Trio der Lust) is an Italian erotic thriller from Leopoldo Savona that seems to have been forgotten since its release in 1972. It stars Mark Damon as its main incestuously-consumed character Lionello, an actor who many probably know from Bava’s Black Sabbath. Yet Byleth isn’t talked about much, possibly because of difficulty finding it. Severin has brought it back for a Blu-ray release from the only known existing German element for audiences to appreciate. And did you appreciate it Michael?

MICHAEL

The reason Byleth isn’t talked about much is because the film is a test on one’s patience. The story amounts to how much flesh (and merkins) can we show, and can we make this excessive amount of nudity seem boring. Well congrats, they succeeded.

RYNE

Ouch! No praise from you. I mean, to be fair the film does have a lot of flesh, and it is rather… tastefully… shot compared to what it could have been (thinking Jess Franco levels). I found the introduction to be quite well done besides the lingering sex scene – there’s a giallo element to the phallic three-pronged killer when he sneaks into that first woman’s bedroom. But I think the mystery disappears throughout the film and really kills the excitement when it becomes clear later on that Lionello is obviously very weird and very horny for his sister. If Byleth had played the mystery a little closer, with Damon not being a peeping tom with consistent music stings and zooms whenever he sees his sister in love, it could have been a more interesting movie.

MICHAEL

Sure, I can give you the giallo element, with the blacked gloved killer striking down the hapless beauties, but it’s clearly obvious who the killer is, and things aren’t any better when it comes to the practical effects of the stab wounds. They basically took a bit of latex and paint and dabbed it on the neck. I also can forgive the character Lionello for liking his hot sister, as he was possessed at an early age, but I can’t forgive the sister, as she doesn’t seem to resist his advancements that much.

RYNE

I think the most egregious thing that the film does is eschew its main elements – sex and violence – for a lengthy middle portion of the film that seems intended to make the audience… want Lionella and Barbara to be together? It’s really strange that Byleth treats their romance with tender music cues while the crux of the movie hinges on Lionello being possessed by a demon. It means the storyline lacks any moral and it also gives me weird vibes about director Savona.

MICHAEL

I personally think you are looking into this movie even more than what director Savona did while making it. He wanted to shoot some flesh and to rile people up he threw in the incest plot to get the audience in the seats. I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of incest in all the movies they watch?

RYNE

Entirely possible. It’s too bad that the film’s sex scenes aren’t more sensual. It’s mostly male grunting and rubbing nipples, with quite a few male butt shots. Not that I mind butt shots. It’s just not the most beautiful erotic film I’ve seen, and I’ve seen plenty.

MICHAEL

A whole lot of butt shots and glimpses of deep, thick bushes. That statement alone should have made the movie better.

RYNE

We’ll move on to the Blu-ray part of the discussion since it’s pretty clear how we feel about the film itself. Severin gives this a new 2k scan from the existing German element and they include a disclaimer at the beginning of the film that there are some obvious discoloration issues with this print. While these are pretty noticeable on two occasions (with the film often flickering to surreal purple colors), the rest of the transfer looks quite good to me – surprisingly sharp with a lot of detail, and most color timing is great with lush Hammer-esque scenery.

MICHAEL

Yes, I can’t add much more to what you’ve already said in regards to the transfer. Severin Films has a done a good job with it, and if anyone complains, they can just read that little blurb at the beginning to shut them up. Plus, the added bonus of being able to watch the film in either German or Italian is nice. I’m not sure which one makes the film sound sexier, but I would say probably the Italian audio.

RYNE

I know you watched the German; I watched the Italian. I did flip between the two and I have to agree that the Italian is sexier. The German tends to have a harsher recording than the Italian though both can have some static distortions. For me, Italian all the way. Luckily Severin has also included two sets of subtitles for each language track. Surprising to me though is that there are no new features on here – no commentary track from film historians, no interview with the still-living Damon. Maybe that tells you something?

MICHAEL

That tells me no one wanted to waste their time on this movie. However, I would have had more enjoyment if they could have got anyone in to discuss it, even if they only had negative things to say about the film.

Both our editors agree: Byleth: The Demon of Incest isn't a film for everyone because it lacks the visceral thrills of a giallo with its slow middle portion. But Severin's Blu-ray has a good, albeit damaged, transfer, lacking special features.
Ryne: Film
Ryne: Blu-ray
Michael: Film
Michael: Blu-ray
Reader Rating0 Votes
Good
Some interesting giallo elements
Maybe the best transfer of the film we'll get
Bad
Overwhelmingly slow movie with a mess of a plot
No extras at all
2.5
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