Ok. You see this DVD box cover above and… what do you think? Well, it’s called LIVING DEATH and it stars Kristy Swanson. Well, I loved her in Deadly Friend. So far so good. Ah, it looks like someone’s getting tortured on the cover. And the tag line is “Scream All You Want… He Enjoys It.” And… It’s UNRATED! On the back of the cover? “Torture is the ultimate seduction”! It’s obvious that the DVD distributor is trying to sell this movie as “torture-porn” ala HOSTEL, SAW and whatever other knock-offs are in the works. With all that said, I would normally never give a movie with this cover artwork a chance, but this particular DVD was given to me as a gift, so I ignored the cheesy “torture-porn” marketing and gave the movie a viewing. And guess what? It’s actually pretty good?!

Now don’t get me wrong. This is by no means a new horror “classic” or anything, but it turned out to be very enjoyable, in a “I’d probably catch this on late night cable one night” kinda way.

The beautiful Kristy Swanson stars as Elizabeth (God, does she ever age?! She still looks fantastic!), who is married to the rich & sadistic Victor (played by Greg Bryk – one of the baddies in Cronenberg’s ‘A History Of Violence’). Elizabeth is having an affair with Victor’s lawyer and best friend Roman, and they both plot to kill Victor by using a concentrated dose of tetrodotoxin, a poison from pufferfish (Fugu is the dish made from this fish, which I learned all about from an episode of The Simpsons!) Turns out, this dose of poison only makes Victor appear to be dead for a few days. After some medical students play with his intestines and Roman settles up in with Elizabeth, whatd’ya know? Victor comes back for a little sadistic payback.

The “torture” thing only plays in the very beginning and very ending, since Victor has a room of old medieval torture devices that he uses when he brings ladies home for the night. (Pfft, these rich folks today. Swingin’ and torturin’!) I’m glad that writer/director Erin Berry calls this film a “horror” film in the featurette, because I can see most filmmakers trying to avoid that stigma and call their film a “psychological thriller”. THIS is a horror film. Plain and simple. Horrific things happen in it. And that’s that. The interesting thing is that although unlikely, this kind of thing could happen. So, overall, I actually enjoyed this flick. Only thing I was mixed on was the cheesy one liner Kristy Swanson gives during the climax, and then the final shot. (Which at first, I was confused by, but then realized what happened.)

Special Features: There’s a featurette that includes some behind the scenes footage and a candid interview with director Erin Berry, who repeatedly refers to himself as an asshole. (Come on, dude! Your movie was good!) Not the greatest set of special features, but it’s better then nothing! –Robg.

Buy it on!

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