Written by: George Pacheco on July 29th, 2015
Theatrical Release Dates: Greece, 1974 (Tango of Perversion), Greece, 1976 (The Wife Killer)
Director: Kostas Karagiannis (AKA Dacosta Carayan) (Both Films)
Writer: Lazaros Montanaris (Tango of Perversion), Thanos Leivaditis (The Wife Killer)
Cast: Lakis Komninos (AKA Larry Daniels), Dorothy Moore, Vagelis Seilinos, Dimitris Bislanis, Fragoulis Fragoulis, Jane Paterson, Leslie Bowman, Efi Cosma, Haris Nezos, Giorgos Oikonomou, Napoleon Ruditis, Erika Raffael, Jennifer Wynne, Giorgos Moshidis, Vicki Anderson, Sakis Pantazopoulos, Yiorgos Theodossis
DVD released: July 28, 2015 (Tango of Perversion), August 18th, 2015 (The Wife Killer)
Approximate running time: 94 minutes (Tango of Perversion), 87 minutes (The Wife Killer)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio (Both Films)
Rating: NR (Both Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Greek, Dolby Digital Stereo English (Both Films)
Subtitles: English (Both Films)
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: (Both Films)
Retail Price: $24.99 (Tango of Perversion), $24.99 (The Wife Killer)
It’s refreshing to see a label with the pedigree of a Mondo Macabro taking a bold chance in today’s Blu-Ray reissue market to release a pair of obscure cult films for the first time uncut on home video. Unfortunately, the label seems to have missed the mark with the two debut films in their “Greek Collection,” Tango of Perversion and The Wife Killer.
There is indeed a world of worthwhile genre cinema from all over the world which still begs for proper, lovingly restored physical media editions from a label who obviously cares as much as Mondo Macabro does about their catalog. These two films don’t exactly deliver a very exciting snapshot of Greek exploitation cinema, however, as both 1974’s Tango of Perversion and The Wife Killer from ’76 ape much of the sex, violence and lurid behavior found within the drive in and trash cinema from such high profile countries as Italy and the United States, yet fail to deliver a palpable sense of energy or urgency to the proceedings which could possibly set them aside from the pack.
Tango of Perversion starts off promisingly enough, as the film’s evocative opening titles reveal an intriguing set up of “The Tango Club,” where sleazeball Stathis rules the roost with his misogynistic seventies style. Stathis has an arrangement with an impotent (but also sleazy) playboy by the name of Joachim, whereby the latter’s bachelor pad is utilized by Stathis as a love nest away from the prying eyes of his rich, older lover. Everything goes pear shaped when sexual abuse, murder, necrophilia and blackmail run into the mix, as if director Kostas Karagiannis is trying his damnedest to one-up his Italian giallo cousins.
The thing, however, is that Tango runs out of gas pretty quick, and even the aforementioned plot points fall flat thanks to an unlikeable protagonist, unexciting acting and pace which, honestly, is quite boring. The music of Yannis Spanos is one bright spot, however, as the composer mixes in traditional Greek folk melodies with a dash of seventies funk and soul, creating a heady mix which works really well. Greek cinema may have a lot to offer fans of the more established and well known cultural cinema exports, but Tango of Perversion doesn’t quite cut the mustard.
Sadly, there’s a similar story here with The Wife Killer from 1976, also directed by Karaginnis under the pseudonym of Dacosta Carayan. The film’s plot is slightly similar, focusing upon Jim, another philandering playboy who seeks to set up his financial meal ticket wife up for murder, in order to be with his younger, more attractive lover. Meanwhile, there’s a psycho rapist and killer on the loose, ruthlessly murdering women and assaulting them with a sleazy ski mask over his face. There’s a bit of kismet to this situation, and it isn’t long before Jim has hired this killer to take his wife out of the picture….that is, until more blackmail and betrayal rear their ugly heads to bite Jim’s plans in the ass.
Again, The Wife Killer promises tons of sleaze and suspense, but rarely delivers outside of a couple of choice scenes. The film was released in a cut version via Prism VHS in the States, as well as on disc through a number of grey market companies under the alternative title The Rape Killer, however this is the first time Karaginnis’ film has received an official, uncut home video release. This doesn’t exactly make the film a blockbuster winner here, however, as The Wife Killer shares similar pacing and performance issues with Tango of Perversion, quickly becoming a tedious and unexciting watch for those used to the Argentoan/Hitchcockian themes Karaginnis is going for here with this exploitative Greek approximation.
Mondo Macabro presents both Tango of Perversion and The Wife Killer in 1.33:1 full frame productions which aren’t the brightest or most colorful transfers around, but still exist leaps and bounds above prior home video versions of either title. There’s a small bit of dirt and dust abound, but nothing too distracting for viewers well versed in uncovering hidden cult movie treasures. The English dub for both films comes across loud and clear, although certain sections were never translated, and are presented here in their original Greek, with well transcribed English subtitles.
Extras are similar for both releases, as Mondo Macabro chose to include a brief-but-excellent overview of Greek cult cinema titled “Sunshine and Shadows,” featuring tons of clips, commentary and VHS covers from the buried history of Greek genre cinema. There’s also a written interview with the producer of both films, cast and crew information as well as a trailer reel of other Mondo Macabro discs. Overall, both of these films receive a great presentation from Mondo Macabro, despite their somewhat disappointing status as ambassadors of the company’s “Greek Collection.”