Thursday, October 25, 2018

ESTIGMA (aka STIGMA) (1980) Blu-ray review

Estigma (aka Stigma) (1980) d. Jose Larraz (Italy/Spain) (86 min)

Angry young man Sebastian (Christian Borremeo) has powers and, as such, he has problems. Whenever he gets angry at people, tragedy befalls them and, well, being an angry young man, he is surrounded by a lot of tragedy. Are these all coincidences or is he actually causing these deaths? If the latter, is there any way he can control his emotions so that he doesn’t murder everyone he comes in contact with, knowing they will eventually disappoint him?

I would like to imagine Larraz (Vampyres, Symptoms, Black Candles) and co-writer Sergio Pastore had something more on their minds than simply cranking out another, sleazier Carrie rip-off, but I don’t know if that’s just wishful thinking since they squander a premise admittedly rich with potential and turn it into a bizarre love triangle between Sebastian, his older brother Jose (Emilio Guiterrez Caba), and his sexy blonde girlfriend Angela (Alexandra Bastedo) who seems to enjoy the company of both.

After the inevitable occurs, she continues to see Sebastian, hoping that he can change his ways and “be good.” Along the way, Sebastian starts to receive visions that perhaps his “curse” is derived from a previous life, a reality that takes up a distractingly prominent portion of the third act, providing a reveal that is less interesting (however taboo) than the main conceit of controlling one’s authentic emotions at the risk of destroying all he or she loves. (Equally frustrating is seeing Helga Liné squandered in the role of Sebastian's promiscuous mother.)

Purely from a genre appreciation standpoint, there are some engaging set-pieces and there’s a fair amount of female flesh on display (this is Larraz, after all), but it all feels more hollow than his other efforts, which could account for its lesser-known status. Dorado Films has taken the plunge, however, and released it to Blu-ray (paired with the equally below-the-radar Emma, Puertos Oscuras) and recruited Berwyn’s own Bryan Martinez to provide an enthusiastic commentary track celebrating the film’s merits.

Even if you don’t agree with every feather he puts in Larraz’s cap, the track definitely highlights the positives as opposed to the alternative (which is presumably why he got the call) and Martinez of The Giallo Room fame is a chatty and amiable host, making for an excellent viewing companion. (His enjoyably nasty short “My Friend Lisa” is also included as an extra.)

Estigma is available now from Dorado Films on Blu-ray and can be ordered HERE:


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