The cover art and concept for The Last Step Down directed by Lawrence Ramport sounds brilliant. In fact it seems to bare resemblance to some of them other religious based horror and erotica that both Redemption/Kino and Vinegar Syndrome have been offering lately. You even get a short additional movie, Blood Lust, in the package. The first glance at the back of the box suggests that you are about to watch an evil cult movie filled with strange rituals, symbolism and violence. Does that perception hold up?
The warning on the package says "While not pornographic, the films on this disc feature extensive scens of sexual activity and are intended for a mature aduience". No it's not a porn, but nearly every scene in The Last Step Down features a nice sized flesh colored dildo. Rubber. Intimidating to say the least. Each scene has nudity. Each scene seems to feature a cult member trying to have his way with a voluptuous young victim. The cult members wear black robes and evil symbols surround the entire scene. What is The Last Step Down? A softcore porn movie that claims to be erotic, but really is kind of a big boobie show. That's not a bad thing, but let's not pretend we're watching an art picture of even something that Jess Franco would be proud of (Redemption also handles Franco and Rollin movies as well). Yes, it's good fun, but it almost feels out of place onthe Redemption label that either focus on art pictures or foreign horror. This isn't a horror picture but maybe you could fit it into the bucket of horror softcore.
The additional movie Blood Lust is 15 minutes of the same that seems to boast the same style of movie as say a higher budget Ed Wood movie (not the camp Sci-Fi/Horror... the stag films). Nothing much to see there and hardly the double feature as advertised. It's shot on 8mm and directed by Russel Gay.
My only real problem aside from the mislabeling or feeling that this movie isn't exactly what it seems to be is the fact that it is purely redundant; more so than most adult features that feature a casual transition between sexual encounters. There is minimal story and each scene seems to be a mirror image of the last.
I would like to end this on a positive note so you don't think that I'm attacking The Last Step Down because it clearly has a place in dark fantasy cinema. Perhaps the way to appreciate it is as a King of the Witches -Lite release (the company that puts out the amazing hardcore torture/bondage and occult films with beautiful sexual power). Maybe you're looking for something not quite as brutal. This would be it. Great score and Gothic sets. You almost would think your in a Bava picture. Very grindy.
You can order The Last Step Down now.
Synopsis from Redemption/Kino:
The recent revival of interest in 1970's grindhouse cinema has unearthed some bizarre and seedy films, but none are as shamelessly exploitive as these two entries in the softcore horror genre. THE LAST STEP DOWN observes the initiation of several voluptuous young women into a satanic cult. With its zoned-out actors and lethargic plot, THE LAST STEP DOWN is a cynical reaction to the counter-cultural fascination with the occult in the early 70's, reducing the worship of the Prince of Darkness to a prolonged humping-and-groping session.
Also included is Russell Gay's ultra-rare BLOOD LUST, an especially salacious (and unexpectedly stylized) adaptation of Le Fanu's Carmilla.