Sex Rituals Of The Occult (also known as plain old Rituals Of The Occult) is a supposed documentary meant to expose the carnal pleasures indulged in by only the most daring of magic and occult enthusiasts. Or so it would have you believe. What it really is, is eighty minutes of goofy bumping and grinding and even goofier narration courtesy of Vincent Stevens (a.k.a. Steve Vincent), a scruffy looking guy who sits behind a desk and reads stoic dialogue from cue cards. The ominous animal skull behind him reminds us that he is a very legitimate occult expert, though in reality he's just a bad actor who appeared in movies like Space-Thing and The Secret Sex Lives Of Romeo And Juliette.
At any rate, Mr. Stevens, who isn't identified by name in the credits (no one is), proceeds to warn us that "The film you are about to see will use professional actors to show you, the public, some of the types of worship that go on in the world. The bizarre sex acts, macabre orgies, weird exotic rites and depraved sex ceremonies you will see for the first time, revealed in this daringly authenticate film." So right there, the cover is blown and we've been told that this is a recreation, and not actual footage of an actual occult ceremony of any kind.
At any rate, as the movie starts off, we lay witness to such evil sights that have never before been filmed! Or something to that effect. It's all very fake. The first scene shows some cult members dressed in red cloaks shaking it around a big coffin. The coffin opens, a hot dead chick is inside, but she wakes up and everyone fucks - only there's no penetration at all, unless you count the occasional oral close up, most of which involve frighteningly limp members.
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As the orgy by a coffin goes on, we're treated to some psychedelic kaleidoscope effects that go on far too long as we ogle a hot black chick with a giant afros and a bunch of dirty hippies bumping and grinding and pretending to have sex with one another. There a lot of lesbian action in the movie, probably because this would have been considered far more taboo in 1970 when this film was made than it is now. There's also a pretty funny scene involving what I supposed is 'Dungeon Sex' where a chained up dude gets it on with some chicks behind some poorly made high school drama class sets that look to have been made with paint and cardboard.
By far the film's most surprising moment is the unexpected gay scene on a park bench with crazy Suspiria style red and green lighting. It's just barely hardcore - guy number one blows the other guy - but the other guy can't get it up, so it kind of lacks any potency. If you've seen Ed Wood's infamous Orgy Of The Dead then you know what you're in for here. It isn't sexy, but it is goofy and as such, it's definitely good for a few laughs. It's all played completely straight (well, except for the gay scene... ba-dump-dump-bah!) which makes it all the more amusing in its stone faced ridiculousness. Stevens' narration tries to put it all in context but it's too much of a mess for that to really work. This is a movie that's far more likely to appeal to trash and exploitation fans rather than your traditional porno movie connoisseur so you have been warned. Oddly enough, the film's director, Robert Caramico, would have a pretty successful career as a cinematographer both before and after this movie, his only directorial feature, was made. He cut his teeth on the aforementioned Orgy Of The Dead (which explains the similarities... and there are a lot of them) but later shot such classics as KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park, Octaman, Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive, and a bunch of bad eighties TV Soap operas before passing away in 1997.
It's also worth noting that this film appeared in an abbreviated 29 minute version as a supplement on Something Weird Video's DVD release of Satanis/Sinthia The Devil's Doll that came out in 2003. Something Weird also released the full length version on VHS and DVD-R.
This fullframe transfer looks a bit flat though it's perfectly watchable. The transfer appears to have been sourced from a tape source rather than a film print but at least it was a tape that was in good condition. There are some specks here and there as well as a moderate amount of grain. The unfortunate decision to add a 'Video X Pix' bug in the bottom right hand corner of the image during a few key scenes is also a strike against the disc, as it is a little annoying when it continues to pop up, but other than that, the movie is generally quite watchable when you take the tape source into account. It's soft, but the colors look fairly good as do the skin tones. The Something Weird release, however, was at least taken from a 35mm print.
The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is a little muffled and not of the best quality, but again, it's taken from an older source so the limitations of the era's technology are going to be there when that's the case. Dialogue is pretty easy to understand, however, and the background music comes through reasonably clear. There aren't a lot of sound effects used in the film, mostly just some random moaning and groaning during the action scenes and these are handled just fine, as are the talkier bits of the movie.
In the extras section you'll find trailers for Honeymoon Haven, and Bon Apetite, a slide show made up of a bunch of unrelated images of golden age performers all engaged in various sex activities, and for some reason, an Interview With Ron Jeremy (3:49), who had nothing to do with this movie. After playing a bit of piano for us, Ron talks about working the various women in the Video-X-Pix stable, Little Oral Annie's blowjob technique, tricks of the trade, fluff girls, and sucking his own dick. Animated menus and scene selection are also included. The trailer has popped up on a trailer compilation or two over the years, but it's not included on this DVD.
Sex Rituals Of The Occult is a terrible movie, it really is horribly made and it's about as erotic as a frigid dog turd, but at the same time, as far as cult oddities go, it's a whole lot of fun. Porno fans probably won't find too much to get off on here, but fans of fringe exploitation pictures will definitely appreciate the picture and for that reason it's recommended, despite the lackluster presentation.