1974’s Hardgore (also known under the alternate titles of Sadoasylum and Horror Whore, and directed by one ‘Michael Hugo’) is a crazy, crazy, crazy film. Part demonic horror film, part deranged sex film, Hardgore has long had a high standing reputation amongst fans of vintage smut and messed up seventies horror films – and with good reason. Whereas Joe D’Amato’s ‘gornos’ like Porno Holocaust and Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead were distinctly European in their look and feel, this one is sleaze American style – you can see it in the fashions, in the sets, and in the performers themselves.
Diane Galke (who, only ever appeared in one other film – Never Talk To Strangers) plays a troubled young lady named Maria. In order to cure her of her psychological malfunctions, Maria has been shut away in the Fox Hollows Sanitarium and placed under the care of one Doctor George (John Seeman) and his sexy lesbian nursing staff.
Once she gets settled in, Maria gets it on with a few of the female members of the staff and quickly sheds whatever sexual inhibitions she may have had coming into the hospital (that is if she had any at all!). Unfortunately for the nurses that Maria gets down and dirty with, they all end up dead in some increasingly gruesome murder set pieces after pleasing Maria with dildos and sex toys.
Maria starts to head out on her own and explore the hospital under cover of the night, and what she finds is a cult of demonic Satan worshippers involved in all manner of despotic blood orgies and evil black magic rituals. The longer Maria stays in the hospital, the more she gets pulled into these rituals and soon she’s participating in the orgies herself, and orally servicing the overseer of the rituals only to get fucked from behind with her head in a guillotine.
Eventually Maria is taken to a hidden chamber hidden deep within the hospital known only as ‘The Room.’ Herein she is horrified to find herself surrounded by old bloody skulls, gory meat hooks, and bizarre flying phalluses that cover her in cum. The more time Maria spends in the hospital, the more insane she gets and things eventually culminate in a truly bizarre and utterly nasty (literal) climax of evil!
Like I said, Hardgore is fucked up. A Satanist is castrated, blood spurts all over the willing participants of the devilish orgies that take place in the hospital, and a man in a Kabuki-style devil mask oversees all of the action, even partaking in a good portion of it himself. An axe finds it’s way into a woman’s crotch, a woman is electrocuted by a large white dildo, and the entire thing is bathed in swirling psychedelic lights and bizarre primary colored gels.
Diane Galke is pretty solid in the lead role. She does a fine job of portraying the primal sexuality that her character explores throughout the film, and she sure is fun to look at. She also does a decent job with the more dramatic and horrific elements that her character faces in the film. She lays witness to some pretty seriously deranged occurrences throughout the film and her reactions definitely do appear to be those of a woman truly terrified by what she sees. It’s too bad that she didn’t make more films.
The horror elements in the film are the highlight – the gore and splatter effects are gruesome and bloody. When a nurse has her throat slit, it’s reasonably believable considering how this was originally conceived as a low budget horror/porn hybrid film that couldn’t ever possibly appeal to a mass audience. Some lighter BDSM themes run through the film, adding an element of kink that suits the sinister proceedings of the cult and the minions involved in the satanic orgies held within the hospitals confines.
The final sex scene, a sweaty, massive, hairy orgy with a whole lot of people groping and grabbing whatever they can is reminiscent of Tim Vigil and David Quinn’s Faust comic (later made into a mediocre movie by Brian Yuzna of Bride Of Re-Animator fame), in that it’s explicit and bloody and ends in an especially violent climax of blood and sex (complete with a candle in the snatch, natch!)