DISCLAIMER: This article (or part of it) deals with Violent, Sexual, Profane, and/or Drug-Related Content. Viewing is Advised.
Cards of Death has been described by some as the "holy grail of slasher films", not for its content, but for its sheer rarity. Shot on video in 1985 in California, the low-budget, English-language film was only ever released on VHS in Japan on Sony's Exciting Video sub-label in 1986; evidently in limited quantities.
The first and only feature film directed by W.G. MacMillan (then in his mid-40s, and who is better known for his acting roles in George A. Romero's 1973 film The Crazies and in James Fargo's 1976 film The Enforcer, respectively), Cards of Death centered around a cult-like group in LA, (spearheaded by a mysterious man known as Hog), that would hold gatherings to gamble with their lives. The group would meet, the males in rubber masks and the females in dominatrix gear, before a Tarot deck would be randomly handed out amongst the members, and a poker-like game would begin, with the unfortunate one to be holding the Death card at the end being subsequently killed (in a variety of graphic and imaginatively sadistic ways, such as a woman being crushed to death in a 'shrinking' room). The person with the winning hand would take home the money, but also the responsibility of having to kill the loser within 24 hours (else they both be killed). The police are involved in the film throughout, trying to solve the increasingly frequent murders. The film is also said to contain elements of rape, masochism, vampirism (ie. a scene in which two nude female lovers make out next to a corpse, after having previously drank the corpse's blood from a wine glass), drug use and a notable scene from the beginning of the film, in which a police officer has his nose sliced off.
The gore effects, (provided by Bryan Moore, who has since provided special effects for 1987's Dolls and 2006's Underworld: Evolution), were in-your-face and over the top, and it is assumed that this was the reason that the film only ever received a commercial release in Japan (the Japanese having already become somewhat accustomed to gore, since the release of movies such as the Guinea Pig series, the first of which was released in 1985). The acting is said to be sub-par and the camera work shaky, although despite this, many people continue to seek out the elusive film.
Of the relatively limited number of copies that were ever released, only a few are known to still exist today, the majority of them being owned by film collectors/reviewers. While a few of said copies have been reviewed in thorough detail by multiple people, no owners as of yet has been willing to provide a VHSRip to the general public.
A copy of the movie was being sold on eBay for $300 ($600 for Buy It Now) until August 16 at 2:20 PM .1 It was eventually purchased by Youtuber KingSpook. The movie is now found and can be watched on YouTube.
The following screenshots were provided by the aforementioned reviewers: