A closer look at the films of José Ramón Larraz
As Malcom and Sally are planning a longer stay in London, they ask their friend Lorna if she could take care of their housekeeper Triana. Lorna is an artist who lives alone and secluded in a country house. Triana has recurring nightmares at night, in which she is chased by a naked man on a horse or finds herself in the middle of a wooden horse construction while the man circles her with his stallion. Unexpectedly, the fire of desire ignites in Lorna, so that a love relationship develops between the two women. One day, a naked man unexpectedly appears on a horse, similar to the one in Triana's dreams. He introduces himself as Chico and increasingly arouses Lorna's interest. What begins as a love triangle, slowly turns into jealousy for Triana, which has an explosive effect...
José Ramón Larraz is probably best known for his blood-soaked vampire-erotic-gothic-horror Vampyres about two lesbian vampires who lure men into their castle to kill them after making love. Larraz began his career as a comic book author for the well-known Spirou series, among others. A meeting with the famous American director Josef von Sternberg brought him to gain a foothold in the film business. His first work was the erotic thriller Whirlpool. It was followed by other low-budget exploitation films like Deviation, La Muerte incierta or Scream... And Die!, in which central themes can be found, which Larraz always relies on, such as a dreamlike staging, perverted love connections and well-punctuated shock scenes.
All these elements can be found again in The Coming of Sin, which is a Spanish production. Triana reawakens sexual desire in Lorna, an artist disappointed by men, but when a man emerges from her nightmares, the relationship between her and Lorna drifts increasingly into darkness. The (nightmarish) dreamlike staging is once again phenomenal. In one scene you can see the naked Triana sitting in a wooden horse, while she is surrounded by the naked Chico sitting on a horse. An ingenious allusion to the Pasiphae story, in which Poseidon had a wooden cow made so that Pasiphae could practice the act of love with the Cretan bull, in which the Minotaur was finally conceived. The Coming of Sin takes the necessary time to tell its story and shows how a catastrophe is slowly approaching. The movie remains deliberately vague in some points, e.g. the question of how Chico makes it out of the dream of Triana into reality, so that there is enough room for interpretation.
Blood Hunger: The Films of José Larraz offers The Coming of Sin uncut for the first time ever
The first seven films are probably the best works of Larraz, of which for a long time only Vampyres was commercially available. Fortunately, this changed on April 25, 2016 when the terrific Symptoms was first released on Blu-ray by BFI in the UK and a little later in the US by Mondo Macabro. Symptoms was, by the way, the official contribution of England to the Cannes Film Festival in 1974. Another gap is now closed by Arrow Video, which on 25 March 2019 released a Blu-ray box with three films by Larraz in England under the title Blood Hunger: The Films of José Larraz. Included for the first time is an official release of Whirlpool, which until now could only be seen as a bootleg in rather poor picture quality, Vampyres and The Coming of Sin, which is uncut here for the first time. This comparison deals with The Coming of Sin, which has a quite interesting release history.
The first VHS release came from Hokushin Audio Visual when the BBFC did not yet require editing for home cinema releases, i.e. before the Video Nasty scandal in which sex and violence depictions in films were publicly demonized. However, the distributor had cut the version considerably, as the film was planned as part of a double feature. Most of the cuts are plot tightenings, but the love scene between Lorna, Triana and Chico was also shortened a bit. A longer version was released on VHS and DVD by Pagan Films (the Mondo Macabro predecessor label), but the BBFC required some cuts, which can be read about on the BBFC homepage. The rape scene of Triana was affected here and in the three-way scene had to be cut by a few seconds, as well. In Italy, a version called Sodomia was released on VHS with additional hardcore scenes cut into it, but with some action scenes removed. So until now it was not possible to see the uncut original version of the film.
Back to the UK VHS by Hokushin Audio Visual. The version starts with the "X-Rated" release card by the BBFC. The original opening credits have been removed and instead the credits are shown when Triana is driven to the country house by Sally and Malcom. You can see the somewhat lurid alternative title The Violation of the Bitch. At this point you can admire the tasteful cover design of the UK VHS, which leaves little doubt in which direction the movie might go.
The Italian VHS by Scorpion seems to have been pulled from a cinema print. As already mentioned, the title Sodomia is shown at the beginning. On pretty much every suitable occasion, HC scenes were cut into the film. So the love scenes of Triana and Lorna offer new explicit details, as well as the question if Triana and Chico were raped can be clearly answered in the Italian version. As a rule, care was taken that the faces of the actors are not visible, but it is obvious that these scenes were re-shot with other actors. By the way, it is not unusual that extended HC film versions have been released in Italy, as demonstrated with the film Massacre at Central High.
The Blood Hunger: The Films of José Larraz Blu-ray box by Arrow Video is one of the most outstanding releases of the year 2019. For the first time there is the possibility to watch Whirlpool in a reasonable form and The Coming of Sin is available in full for the first time. The films have been excellently restored and shine in unprecedented quality. Extensive bonus material completes the release. If you like exploitation, you should do yourself a favor and get the box. It's worth it.
UK DVD: 84:49 min.
The cut UK DVD by Pagan was compared to the uncut UK Blu-ray by Arrow Video.
In the DVD, the picture freezes and "The Coming of Sin" is displayed.
The BD fades in the original title while Lorna continues painting the picture.
DVD: 7 sec.
BD: 9 sec.
Triana tries to fend off Chico, who is about to rape her.
BD: 16 sec.
After the pictures were shown, one sees how Lorna is tied to the bed by Triana and Chico.
BD: 19 sec.
Triana looks at Chico.
BD: 4 sec.
Chico is sleeping with Lorna. First he kisses Triana, who lies next to Lorna, and then Lorna.
BD: 33 sec.
Cut to Chico sleeping with Lorna. After that, Triana can be seen earlier, letting her tongue run over Lorna's arm before she bites.
BD: 5 sec.
The DVD shows "The End" at the end.
On the BD, a "Fin" appears instead.
DVD: 6 sec.
BD: 7 sec.