Infernal Rapist [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Vinegar Syndrome
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (15th February 2023).
The Film

Carlos (Man on the Spying Trapeze's Noé Murayama), better known as "El Gato" the serial rapist/murderer, joins the choir invisible by way of the electric chair. No sooner does he get his last rites than the devil "herself" (The Murder of Camelia the Texana's Ana Luisa Peluffo) appears to his spirit and offers him drugs, riches, and earthly pleasures if he promises to continue his spree of rape and murder, offering up his victims to her by marking them with three sixes. Satan's new favorite son Carlos is reunited with his body and is soon living it up in a mansion with an array of expensive cars. He claims his first victim in a gay pickup (Arturo Mason) who he rapes and murders (in reverse order). The lead detective (Manuel 'Flaco' Ibáñez) who sent El Gato to the electric chair in the first place has nothing to go on apart from the roommate's description of a distinguished-looking gentleman and writes the first crime off as a random act of violence due to the sexuality of the victim. Carlos next starts patronizing a local beauty salon to cater to his own vanity while the staff ensures he is always satisfied. Carlos soon falls for stylist Maribel (cabaret performer Princesa Lea) but she pays the ultimate price for refusing his offer to make her "Satan's favorite daughter," and the growing body count has the police wondering if someone is copying El Gato's modus operandi.

One of the sleazier Mexican horror pictures thus far exported stateside, The Infernal Rapist is, however, unmistakably the product of a conservative Catholic country. Sexually-free women are always "on the take" (even the impllied lesbian relationship between the owner of the salon and Maribel seems like it is meant to be a sign of her duplicity and immorality) – the one modestly-dressed female victim is simply snatched off the street while the others are lured. The gay witness is treated no better by the police than the victim by his killer, with the witness harangued with slurs and the victim also blamed and his "perversion" being no different from that of a sex maniac. However prolific actor Ibáñez was in Mexican cinemas in cop roles, it is just as well that his investigation is largely on the sidelines since his irate performance is one-note and as uninteresting as the investigation itself. Son of a Japanese father and Mexican mother and usually cast as "oriental" characters in his earlier days, Murayama gives the more enthusiastically over-the-top performance, and Peluffo is quite the sight in a series of revealing costumes looking more like a cabaret performer than a demon as she pops up in smoke and backlight to remind Carlos of his debt to her. Some old school laser effects and wire-assisted levitation are more endearing than distracting in their lack of technical polish. The de rigeur final shock is even more nonsensical here than anywhere else in eighties horror but one feels that there would have been no other way to end such a film as The Infernal Rapist. Director Damián Acosta helmed nearly forty flicks in between 1979 and 1996 consisting mainly of action films while co-director José Medina directed more than double that in a career that lasted just over a decade longer.


Previously unreleased in the United States – apart from perhaps Mexican tapes that made it north of the border or perhaps an obscure release on one of the North American labels catering to Latin American audiences – Infernal Rapist comes to Blu-ray in a 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen transfer from a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative. The image can be drab, but this has more to do with the lighting and color scheme since instances of saturated costuming, overdone make-up, blood, and color gel lighting really pop (particularly in the appearances of the devil and her minions). Resolution is clear enough to notice the rough edges of the film's effects from the padding under the robe of the first victim as he is stabbed repeatedly to the wires holding up one levitating victim. Darker scenes can sport heavy noise in the underexposed areas, but this is part of the production's texture.


The only audio option is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono Spanish-lanugage track in which everyone appears to be post-dubbed – and one wonders whether that is actually Ibáñez's real voice – and the scoring seems to be a mix of original synthesizer chords and some library tracks. Optional English subtitles are provided.


Extras start off with a trio of short interviews. In the first, actor Juan Moro (4:23) recalls being invited by Acosta to appear in the film and bringing his own weapons to the shoot, learning from co-star "Flaco", and working with cabaret performer Lea. In his interview, actor Fidel Abrego (5:07) also recalls being guided as an actor by Flaco and enjoying the work while feeling uneasy about the film's violence. Finally, actor Arturo Mason (6:16) recalls working with Murayama and analyzing their scene – which he considers the strongest scene in the film – while also recollecting the shoot as strenuous due to various incidents that made him superstitious. He also recalls his other collaborations with Acosta and some of the same cast and crew in other films.

Lastly, there is an audio essay by author & critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (18:18) who asks if a film like Infernal Rapist can be "enjoyed" in a space between the progressive labeling as "problematic" and the "so bad it's good" area where its sleazy content has no meaning. She also discusses how the film may be intended as a simple slice of exploitation but its elements may also be telling of the tensions and anxieties of the society that produced it. While the audio essay is in English, it too is accompanied by optional English subtitles for convenience.


The disc comes in a case with a reversible cover while the first 5,000 copies ordered directly from Vinegar Syndrome come with a special limited edition spot gloss slipcover designed by Robert Sammelin.


One of the sleazier Mexican horror pictures thus far exported stateside, The Infernal Rapist is unmistakably the product of a conservative Catholic country; and, yet, the contradictions between its morality and its exploitable elements are food for thought.


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