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(aka "La Lunule" or "The Hooker Cult Murders")

 

directed by Harvey Hart
Canada 1973

 

Quebec detective Henderson (Christopher Plummer, THE SOUND OF MUSIC) and his partner Paquette (Donald Pilon, LEFT FOR DEAD) respond arrive at the scene of a hooker's mysterious fall from a penthouse balcony and suspect foul play (the dead woman - Elizabeth Lucy [Karen Black, BURNT OFFERING] - was wearing an inverted cross and clutching a pyx - a small brass vessel used to deliver to the host to the sick or dying who cannot come to church for communion - in her hand). The dead woman's madame Meg (Yvette Brind'Amour) is anything but helpful, but he does learn that the Elizabeth's good friend/fellow hooker Sandra (Louise Rinfret) mysteriously disappeared the week before. The film then intercuts Elizabeth's last day - during which she catches the eye of mysterious wealthy client Kearson (Jean Louis Roux, THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE) and goes to desperate means to protect her friends when she realizes that she may not survive whatever Kearson plans for her - and Henderson's investigations (during which Kearson's henchman Lefram [Lee Broker, SCANNERS] slaughters his way through any of Elizabeth's acquaintances who can point Henderson towards the truth). Based on John Buell's 1959 novel - yet likely green-lighted by the success of THE EXORCIST - THE PYX plays as a slow-burn thriller; however, it is less concerned with the whodunit aspects or even Satanism, and more with the unfolding story of Elizabeth's troubled life and redemption in her final hours (which are shown in flashback running parallel to Henderson's investigation). Black is sympathetic in a role that is more complex than the usual "hooker with a heart of gold" (her vocals - including one whose lyrics were derived from "Song of Solomon" - add some additional poignancy). Plummer reigns himself in for most of the film, until the climax where his reserve is shaken. The cinematography of Rene Verzier (JOY) is dark and naturalistic, and reaches its stylistic apex during the climactic black mass sequence.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 13 September 1973 (Canada)

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DVD Review: Scorpion Releasing (Katarina's Nightmare Theater) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:47:16
Video

2.31:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Scorpion Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.31:1

Edition Details:
• Playable with optional Katarina's Nightmare Theater Intro and Closing Remarks
• Audio Commentary with actress Karen Black, moderated by Marc Edward Heuck
• TV spot (4:3; 1:01)
• TV spot (4:3; 0:30)
• Trailers for FINAL EXAM, HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, HUMONGOUS, NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT, HUMAN EXPERIMENTS,
• INCUBUS, and THE DEVIL WITHIN HER
• Promo Reel featuring clips from HUMONGOUS, NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT, FINAL EXAM, HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW,
• INCUBUS, THE DEVIL WITHIN HER, REVENGE, TERROR, THE CARPENTER, SATAN'S SLAVE, SATAN'S BLOOD, HUMAN
• EXPERIMENTS, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE, and THE PYX (4:3; 2:10)

DVD Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Amaray

Chapters 18

 

Comments

Although the release is not stacked with extras, Scorpion Releasing have treated their HD-mastered transfer of THE PYX to a high bitrate dual-layer encoding (the feature occupies 6.71 GB of the SD disc). Some dark scenes are grainy and there is occasional solarization in the deep blacks, but this seems to be a fault of the location photography as other dark scenes (like the creepy black mass scene) are cleaner. The English audio is in good condition (the better to appreciate Karen Black's folksy vocals and the creepy chipmunk black mass Gregorian chant music.) The trailer option in the menu actually features one 30-second TV spot and one 60-second TV spot for the film.

The major extra is an audio commentary with Karen Black, moderated by Marc Edward Heuck. Black offers both anecdotes about the shooting of the film, as well as her working methods as an actress (she also makes some interesting observations about Plummer's more understated acting style here). Heuck offers background on the film (including statements from the late director), as well as some interesting interpretations of the more ambiguous uses of Catholic iconography thematically and in the film's production design. The film is playable with optional intro and closing sequences featuring hostess Katarina Leigh Waters. There are trailers for a handful of current and upcoming Scorpion releases in the "Katrina's Nightmare Theater" series, and a promo reel within Waters' closing remarks segment features a clips form a couple more upcoming releases.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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