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Stigma (1972) - Blu-ray Review

4 beersDon Johnson has A Boy and His Dog long before there was any idea of Sonny Crockett.  It’s only fair then, in those pre-Miami Vice days, that Philip Michael Thomas had an exploitative cult hit under his no-belted waist, too.  Stigma, a movie that tackles a nasty sexually transmitted disease AND racism, is exactly that for Tubbs.  It’s also pretty damn good in its rollout, too. 

Debuting on blu-ray thanks to the efforts (and fine taste) of Code Red, Stigma is the next film from director David E. Durston, who originally wowed audiences with I Drink Your Blood, a drive-in cult classic inspired by the Manson killings.  This time, his low-key treatment of venereal disease caught the attention of the United States Navy who famously used the film to dissuade sailors from going overboard with their shore leave when it came to women.

Here, though, he tackles a deadly STD that is spread throughout an isolated community thanks to a lot of promiscuous pant-dropping teenagers with nothing better to do with their free time.  Equal parts chilling and unnerving, Durston, once again on a nickel-and-dime budget, manages to achieve something far beyond what he should have been able to do.  It’s less obvious with its themes and plays down the horror in an attempt to be more critical of the current society with its racial misgivings. 

It works, too.  Low-key and managing a very active camera, the film benefits from headstrong performances and a strong POV shots thanks to the immediacy of its tense situations on the island locale.

We are introduced to Dr. Crosse (Thomas) upon his release from prison for an illegal abortion that resulted in a woman’s death.  Already, we are curious.   He heads to a bar for a quick drink before moving on.  He is first hit on by a gay patron and then another.  “Mind if I drink,” the coked-out woman sitting next to him eventually asks.   “As long as you’re payin’” he chuckles. 

He even stands up for the homosexual man when the woman takes her issues out on him.  Crosse is not a man who messes around.  But upon his arrival to a small island community, he’s run into nothing but trouble and it begins with the local law officer who warns him not to fool around in town or with their women, especially his daughter.  Uh oh. 

Practicing safe sex in an exploitation film is tough, you know?  Co-starring Harlan Cary Poe and William Magerman, this film amps up the paranoia thanks to the discovery of the widespread disease.  This is the wild subject matter of Stigma as it unloads upon one hated doctor to find the cure that will help this community of white privileged women and their big Moby Dicks. 

The town hates him for his color and the good professor he’s visiting had died due to a sudden heart attack.  He was working on a cure for the epidemic that has plagued the small island community.  And now, when he’s not spying on them via telescopes, must save the people from themselves and the things they fondle in the dark of night.

Brainwashed.  Whitewashed.  And venereal disease.  Stigma, now on blu-ray thanks to a brand new 2K scan from the original negatives by Code Red, holds nothing back.  And it gets sicker with each and every kiss!


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Stigma (1972) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
93 mins
: David E. Durston
David E. Durston
Philip Michael Thomas, Harlan Cary Poe, Josie Johnson
: Thriller
The curse that begins with a kiss.
Memorable Movie Quote: "We're a fine church-going community."
Theatrical Distributor:
Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 18, 1972
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 25, 2016
Synopsis: Star of Miami Vice Phillip Michael Thomas, is a young doctor who arrives at a secluded island community and discovers that there’s a deadly germ affecting the town’s young promiscuous residents. When trying to help contain the spread of the contagious disease, the doctor realizes there’s a lot more to the epidemic than meets the eye – including a major cover-up by the community sheriff. It’s a sickening and twisted 1972 shocker from director/writer David Durston, the famous director of the 1971 cult classic I Drink Your Blood! Join Durston as he spreads a whole new kind of disease with Stigma, a horrifying tale that begins with a kiss. Don’t even try to resist!


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Stigma (1972) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Code Red
Available on Blu-ray
- October 25, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
: None
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Code Red presents Stigma in 1080p with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 that doesn’t disappoint.  The island-bound film is full of color and crisp details in its green and pink trappings.  Fabric textures in clothing are visible, especially in sweaters.  Reds are bold.  Blues are strong and so are blacks, with the shadows maintaining their depth.  Most of the sequences are vivid and expressed with a new clarity thanks to HD upgrade. 



  • The disc comes with a new commentary from writer/director David E. Durston that is moderated by Jeff McKay.

Special Features:

Along with the fantastic commentary and the sparkling new 1080p transfer, fans of this feature get a new 18-minute featurette with the film’s director and several trailers.

  • Featurette With Director David E. Durston (18 min)
  • TV And Theatrical Trailers


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Stigma (1972) - Blu-ray Review