Tag Archives: 1973

Dr Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (1973)

AKA The Mansion of Madness

Director:Juan López Moctezuma .
Starring.Claudio Brook, Arthur Hansel, Ellen Sherman. Marin LaSalle. Susana Kamini. Mexico. 1h 39m.

The concept of this darkly macabre path into insanity is simple, the inmates have taken over the asylum. This  vision of madness come from the king of the unusual, the film is loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The System of Dr Tarr and the Professor Feather.  A reporter (Brook) and his entourage have been invited to 19th century asylum hidden deep in the woods, their guide promises easy access but they are confronted by two armed guards, eventually they are let in and split up, the reporter takes one route while his beloved is chased through the woods and abused. After meeting various groups of people acting out wildly in the forest he meets the megalomaniac who’s running the whole affair and soon realises that the inmates have taken over and the prisoners are the redundant staff. In the absence of medical care they are left to their own crazy devices and act out their basest fantasies and have incredibly surreal urges. Continue reading Dr Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (1973)

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Messiah of Evil (1973)

messiah of evil

Director/Screenplay/Producer: Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz
Starring: Marianna Hill, Michael Greer, Elisha Cook Jr . USA. 1h 30m.

Also known under the delightful title of Dead People this early 70’s horror co written, directed and produced by the husband and wife team of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz is a often overlooked deeply atmospheric and psychotropic horror movie.

Starring Marianna Hill as Arletty who drives to Point Dune, California to visit her estranged father, an artist who has abandoned his home but upon uncovering his diary she finds vital information concerning the horrible nightmare that is consuming the town and ignoring her father’s pleas to NOT look for him, she continues her search and tracks down the owner of a gallery who sells her father’s work, but he vaguely remembers him and informs her about the vibrant “art culture” that thrives in Point Dune. Still searching for information she meets a visiting Portuguese/American aristocrat, Thom (Michael Greer) and his two extremely provocative groupie companions Toni (Joy Bang) and Laura (Anita Ford). Thom interviews Charlie (Elisha Cook Jr) an old eccentric who tells of dark and chilling tales of his mother and “the dark stranger” who will return after a 100 years hiatus, he also informs Arletty that her father is one of “them” and moments later he’s murdered. Continue reading Messiah of Evil (1973)

Baba Yaga / Kiss me Kill me (1973)

Baba Yaga

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.

BABA YAGA

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.

baba yaga

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.

AOFA08
Rating –  8/10

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