Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Black Magic Rites (1973)

If there's anything I can say about "Black Magic Rites" director Renato Polselli*, it's that he loves breasts. It often feels like not a moment goes by in which a woman is topless. What he doesn't seem to like is plot. This is a movie that goes "Plot? Fuck that shit!" and throws in a lot of...well, a lot of stuff happening. It kind of reminded me of "Resident Evil: Retribution" in that it does away with any real effort towards narrative and characters, only instead of explosions and slow motion it's loads of female nudity and surreal, acid tinged imagery.

So, whatever plot is here deals with a Satanic cult that needs the blood of virgins to awaken the witch Isabella (the gorgeous Rita Calderoni) that was killed centuries ago. Enter Laureen (Calderoni again), who is somehow connected to the witch, and new castle owner Jack Nelson (Mickey Hargitay), who is not only the witch's lover, but is also Dracula.

The recent midnight screening for "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" went worse than anyone expected

It is nearly impossible for me to describe what this movie is really about. It makes me feel as if I am describing a weird fever dream from a recovering drug addict. All I can say is that there are some great visuals, some gore, wide eyed comic relief that feels like it belongs in a different movie, Satanists with goofy red bodysuits, and so much more. So, is it entertaining? Yes and no.

Granted, the constant barrage of gorgeous naked European girls is pleasant to look at, it doesn't add anything to the plot, which even by the standards of Italian horror makes no sense. Plus, for every great moment of bloodshed we get, there's still a lot of moments that drag on and on (in particular the witch being impaled and burned at the stake, which feels like it never ends) that tested my patience. The comedic scenes also stick out like a sore thumb. Granted, you can make horror and comedy work, but none of these scenes feel necessary, and are more lame than they are funny. Then there's the conclusion, which just feels like the people behind it had no idea how to end the movie, so they just made the whole thing up on the spot.

A fate worse than death: Being forced to watch "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

At the same time, there's some wonderful imagery going on here. That's mostly thanks to the gorgeous lighting and cinematography on display, which at times borders on Bava and Argento levels of impressive. It also gets away with some real stand out scenes, the highlight being a burial that leads to a bat attack. It doesn't make much sense, but damn it if it isn't a well done scene. Finally, this movie is oftentimes unintentionally hilarious. There are so many things that make no sense, as well as tons of continuity errors (our heroine at one moment is wearing shoes, and the next isn't) and all around bad directorial decisions (beware of the dreaded snake pit that only has two snakes!) that made me laugh hard. At times, it's like a how not to guide as far as directing and editing is concerned, and you almost find yourself glad for that. Emphasis on almost.

As a whole, there's little here that resembles a good movie. However, it's so utterly incomprehensible that fans of offbeat trash cinema should see it at least once. As it stands, I find it to be a movie that defies any proper rating. Whether or not that's a recommendation is up to you.  

Rating: I Don't Know

*Apart from this, Polselli's directorial credits in the genre include "The Vampire and the Ballerina" and the sleazy Giallo film "Delerium." As a writer, his credits include This, "Delerium", "Django Kills Softly" and "Psychout For Murder."

No comments:

Post a Comment