Baba Yaga / Kiss me Kill me (Horror, Thriller, 1973) (18) D: Corrado Farina W: Guido Crepax (cartoon) C: Carroll Baker, George Eastman, Isabelle De Funès. 1h 21m. Italy, France.
Synopsis : A photographer finds herself falling under the spell of a witch.
Corrado Farina’s dark and seductive film inspired by the Slavic folklore witch named Baba Yaga who has discarded her pestle and mortar for a plush luxury car has decided to holiday in the sunny back streets of Italy rather than her usual home deep in the Russian forests. Baba Yaga or Kiss Me Kill Me boasts daring 70’s freedom of sexuality and intrigue while following the mysterious sites newest interest Isabelle De Funès who is a hip young risqué photographer, while the movie focuses in on the seduction and haunting of the youthful artisan it neglects to heavily zone in on the gore or esoteric side of the story.
Even though this is inspired on the Nordic Crone by name there is nothing really present about her historic character in the movie, instead it skips the history lesson and dwells with free love of the swinging 70’s and in a similar vein to other Italian thrillers of the time it wallows in a Technicolor psychedelic mysterious ooze. Isabelle is an independent modern woman, who snares the attention of the crazy cat lady styled Baba Yaga. She encapsulates the startled doll like beauty and free loving ethics of any hipster and this life comes crashing into the stuffed dated style of Baba antique lifestyle after accidentally meeting Yaga in a near collision her camera is bewitched and a strange bondage doll is gifted to her, Isabelle notices strange unexplained occurrences but how do you combat a witch or confront a friendly stranger.
The plot eases into different chapters rather than flowing freely, it’s as if Farina wrote the scenes independently exploring each subject to it’s fullest, there is a the saga of the haunted camera then Annette the sexy bondage doll who takes the film into the final chapter of Baba’s dark dungeon and further kinkiness. There are some interesting dreamy sequences and suggestions of witchcraft but the subject is vague and quickly discarded as quickly as it’s presented.
The acting isn’t brilliant but the story is chiefly embedded in the mystery of the peculiar events while everything seems to be animated like a dream throughout, especially when Baba is on the screen or when Isabelle is in her house that seems to be in an almost parallel universe, the setting being a heavily decorated Victorian mansion on the outskirts of town where the witch cuddles her pussy in rooms filled with doilies and you can almost smell the mothballs and violets in the gloom.
The film is lacking in gorey blood splattered murder scenes that would be expected in a Italian thriller of the time such as a flick from Fulci or Argento, but it’s not a huge downside, in fact this Romanticised thriller premise that you can have a tense film without the carnage.
Spiraling into a sado sexual finale there is a want for a witchy showdown, of course there is a battle once Isabelle works out who is causing her bad mojo, but there is nothing on a huge scale or with frightening effects, sadly there is no counter with or any help from an occult expert either which could have been an interesting edge. Instead it’s all down to the initiative Isabella and her fella to find solutions but ultimately how can you fight an immortal character like Baba Yaga!?
Farina touches on a lot of sexy subjects and transcends a few taboo’s while introducing a unique possessed doll who is sexy and threatening at the same time. Overall it’s tame in the terms of gore but remains an exciting thrill.
V: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, it’s style and mysterious feel was a pleasant surprise it doesn’t throw itself excessively into one category, instead it straddles a mystery, thriller, horror, occult film evenly. As a fan of many Italian thrill kill movies especially from the infamous Argento and Fulchi this film equals their style and vigor. Without being uber “loud” both with colour and sound Baba Yaga is more subtle with it’s approach, delivering a more in depth story rather than regular kills. I adore how the old Slavic witch is brought into the modern age, sadly the film couldn’t be as off the wall as the original comics but I’m still giving the film a huge 8/10.
R: The Frightened woman (1969), the black cat (1981) , Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971), The Case of the Bloody Iris (1972), Susperia (1977).
T: Most of the original cast left this project and it had to be re started with the Baker and De Funès instead.
5B: Carroll Baker , Isabelle De Funès
L: Selected Italian cinema, Witch movies, Folklore flicks
PD : Post Discussion