The Movie Waffler Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - BYLETH: THE DEMON OF INCEST | The Movie Waffler

Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - BYLETH: THE DEMON OF INCEST

Byleth The Demon of Incest review
A Duke with an incestuous obsession with his sister is suspect of being behind a series of prostitute murders.

Review by Mike Vaughn

Directed by: Leopoldo Savona

Starring: Mark Damon, Claudia Gravy, Aldo Bufi Landi, Silvana Pompili, Marzia Damon

Byleth The Demon of Incest bluray

With a title like Byleth: The Demon of Incest, I expected a massively strange and unnerving psycho-sexual romp of the sort only the Italians can dish up. Sadly, it doesn’t quite live up to its interesting title.

Duke Lionello (Mark Damon) is madly in love with his sister, who he recently learned is to be wed. Meanwhile a series of prostitute murders are taking place with the Duke being the only suspect. Byleth starts out like a period piece Giallo, with a black gloved murderer killing a prostitute. The murder, like all the murders in this film, is very tame and not at all what many Italian horror fans might expect from this type of film. What is worse is the film plays very much like a period drama intermixed with sex and some very mild graphic murders.

Byleth The Demon of Incest review

I don’t mind a slow burn film but this felt very dull in places, maybe more so when I thought this was going to be a movie teeming with splatter and sleazy set pieces. The film toys with the idea that a demon is to blame for these killings. I should point out that this idea is not established until nearly an hour into its 83-minute runtime.

[ READ MORE: IFI Horrorthon 2019 Review - Kindred Spirits ]

The concept of a period piece, supernatural Giallo film is very cool, however the supernatural elements are weirdly mentioned, then quickly dropped, then brought up again haphazardly in the film's finale. It's frustrating as it's never fully explored in lieu of some slow, uninteresting talky scenes. I guess I was expecting (from the title) a grimy, sleazy bit of Italian offering but instead got something that felt like it could have played on PBS minus the sex and incest undertones. The incest itself is unnerving, don’t get me wrong, and maybe I'm jaded after seeing a lot of these Italian films, but it felt like the subject didn’t make the film weirder or more interesting.

Byleth The Demon of Incest review

I found this film underwhelming but the filmmakers did a fine job on the costumes and production design. I just wish they could have really amped everything up, including the supernatural elements, which seemed to be just an afterthought.

[ READ MORE: Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - Two Evil Eyes ]

So lets talk about the picture. Per the title before the feature starts:

"The following scan of Byleth is taken from the only known negative elements of the uncensored German version: Trio Der Lust. There is discoloration in some scenes due to damage in the element but hopefully this will not mar your enjoyment of this sensual and perverse filmic experience."

Byleth The Demon of Incest review

The film itself looks great and even the discoloration isn’t that bad. It certainly didn’t distract from my viewing experience. Honestly it's just amazing that the film elements could even be salvaged, period. I think sometimes fans take for granted the restoration process. Trust me, they don’t magically appear. First you have to secure the film rights AND find a usable original film element - not to mention the countless hours it takes to restore the film. Shockingly, the film has no special features.

Overall: So, yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of this film. Having said that I still think it's amazing that Severin can take an odd obscure Italian film like Byleth and make it look great for its North American re-release. After all, even though I didn’t dig it, I’m sure others might.

Byleth: The Demon of Incest is on blu-ray now from Severin Films.

Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcast named their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”

His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks(UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @gorehound_mike.