Posts Tagged ‘black sunday’

 

Originally published on my former blog: Gypsyscarlett Weblog on April 30, 2012

Released in 1966 by Mario Bava, Kill, Baby, Kill, is a fantastic horror set in a Carpathian village.  Despite its ridiculous American title (the original being, Operazione paura) which conjures images of a c-grade slasher, the film is a surprising mix of an old-fashioned ghost story with dashes of surrealism. The film begins as a woman leaps to her death onto a spiked fence.  Then a child’s mocking laughter is heard as the opening credits roll. An outsider, Dr. Paul Eswai, is summoned to perform the autopsy.  He quickly befriends a young nurse, Monica Shuftan, who only recently arrived at the village, herself.   She reveals having been born there, but sent away when orphaned at two years.  “I came to visit my parents’ graves,” she tells him. Image
The two quickly learn that the villagers fear a ghost child named Melissa.   Legend goes that anyone who sees the malevolent spirit will kill themselves Image
The scientifically-minded doctor scoffs at the notion of a curse, while the more emotional, but sensible Monica realizes that science can’t explain the odd deaths which have plagued the village for twenty years. Along with the pile of bodies all found with coins in their hearts, is the mysterious presence of the black-robed Ruth.

kill baby kill ruth

     When a teen-aged girl claims to have seen the ghost, her petrified mother cries for her husband to seek help from the witch.  But when he opens the door to do so, she is already standing at the threshold.   “We know when someone is in harm’s way.”
When Paul arrives, he is aghast to witness what he considers Ruth’s arcane healing methods.  And further, he ignores her warnings to leave the village.   Instead, he continues to search for rational answers and save the ailing Nadienne. Meanwhile, Monica is plagued by a doll-filled nightmare that suggests there’s more to her past in connection with the village than even she is aware.. As the plot deepens, Monica, Paul, and Ruth find their way to the home of the Baroness Graps, the reclusive mother of the ghost child.  Two are seeking the truth.  One, is looking for retribution. Image Not as well known as Bava’s sublime, Black Sunday, this film is every bit as worth a view.   Interesting camera angles and dazzling colors create a highly atmospheric mood.   An intelligent script converts some of the genre’s even by then tired clichés.   Giacomo Rossi-Stuart displays solid acting as Paul, though he lacks the charisma necessary to elevate the role from merely the “good guy”. It is the women of this film that the camera loves.  Erika Blanc is effective as Monica, and even drab clothes can’t hide her charms.  The haunting Fabienne Dali (Ruth) steals every scene she’s in.  And of course, there’s always Melissa and her devoted mother…

Black Sabbath - I tre volti della paura 1963-MSS-JF-049

There are  films you see as a child, which although the name of it is long forgotten to you, fragments of scenes, the way it crawled under your skin, remain intact.   And years later, you are flicking the channels when you come across that seem bony hand, those same drops of water.   “This was that movie,” you say.

Directed by the sublime Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Kill Baby Kill), Black Sabbath was a  1963 Italian horror trilogy.  Its original title, I tre volte della paura ( The three Faces of Fear) consists of one,  “The Telephone” in which a woman named Rosy, beset by terrifying phone calls, fears the ex-pimp she helped put away, is out now,  seeking revenge.  Second, “The Wurdalak”, in which a woman loses her child to a vampire.   This story set in 19th century Russia is exceptionally haunting and beautifully filmed.   Yet it is perhaps the third one, that remains most memorable to any who saw it:

“A Drop of Water”

Everyone knows not to steal from the dead.   Except, evidently,  Victorian Nurse Helen Chester.  While dressing the body of a deceased patient, she slips a saphire ring off the corpse’s finger.  The deed done,  she knocks over a glass of water, its contents spilling onto the floor.   A fly attacks her face.

Pulling herself together, she continues her work.

Once finished with the assignment, she returns home to her apartment.  Ready to rewind and relax for the evening, her plans are hindered by the buzzing of flies, and the tip-tapping of water.   And then there is that face.  That face.  And those hands. . .

From youtube, in the Original Italian:  (don’t worry, you don’t need to speak the language to understand what is happening)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5URt0IDd84   (part one)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7WYuBHz2Jg    (part two)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHotHCMSEdc    (part three)

original title:  La noche de Walpurgis (1971)

Werewolf Versus Vampire Woman- ad

With a title such as, Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman, how could a lady such as I resist?   The sound of it alone brought me back to the little kid watching Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoons.   Not to mention the slew of John Sinclair horror pulp novellas  which reside in this apartment.

Is this a great piece of filmmaking?  A masterpiece of cinematic technique?  Hardly.  It is unabashadly a B- film from the cheap sets,  silly dialogue, acting that seesaws between stilted and melodramtic, and heaving bosoms.  Don’t watch expecting a Psycho, Exorcist, Black Sunday, Suspiria, The Haunting, or anything of that ilk.   That said, I don’t judge any film or book in comparion to others.   One of my main tenants in critique is, did it do what it set out to do?

If director Leon Klimovsky and script writers, Paul Naschy and Hans Munkel, wished to entertain me, they succeeded.

Starring Naschy as Waldemar Daninsky and Gaby Fuchs as Elvira, this is a fun romp from the moment Elvira (with gal pal, Genevieve in tow) goes off to research the legend of a Countess Wandessa, rumored to have been a Hungarian vampire in the eleventh century.   As a writer of the occult, Elvira can hardly resist the story of a woman who practiced all methods of dark magic.  Of how members of the Inquisition tried to arrest her, but all who opposed her ended up dead.  Of a woman who preserved her beauty by drinking the blood of virgins.  Of how she was finally killed by her own lover who stabbed her in the chest.

the-werewolf-vs-the-vampire-woman

Naturally, fate sees it that the women get lost, while also running low on gasoline.  The droll Genevieve (Barbara Capell), jokes maybe Count Dracula will appear, and surely he will invite them to spend the night at his castle.    Elvira jocularly tells her to shut up.  However, her humor disipates when they do reach a run down castle where a Count Waldemar does indeed invite them to stay, as long as they wish.  From the start, she is suspicious of the oddness of the man, and his surroundings.   “This man has been lying to us all this time.  Have you noticed how the table was set?  Only a woman has that eye for attention.”

After listing all the weird things she’s noticed, Genevieve retorts by granting them all rational explanations.    Again she jokes of the undead.  “No vampire is going to suck your blood.”

Oh, dear.  Then you shouldn’t disturb graves of reputed Vampirin.

Perhaps it is this interest in vampires, that incites the risen Countess  to lure the woman into her coven.

wolfman vs vamp woman

When the turned Genevieve tries to seduce Elvira into joining them, “I’m so happy.  It’s beautiful,”- Elvira is left to try to rescue her friend, as well as help the hairy Count destroy the vampiric witch once again.

wolfman vs vampire woman 3