Monday, November 9, 2009

Baba Yaga (1973)

Baba Yaga


Written & Directed by Corrado Farina

Carroll Baker .... Baba Yaga
George Eastman .... Arno Treves
Isabelle De Funès .... Valentina Rosselli
Ely Galleani .... Annette


Valentina, a professional photographer and member of the artistic upper crust, rescues a stray dog from being hit by a car. The driver, a creepy bourgeois witch by the name of Baba Yaga, apologizes to Valentina and offers her a ride home. On the way, Baba tells her that their meeting was fate and promises to see her again. That night Valentina suffers from an erotic nightmare involving the military, a cat, underwear and a leap of death.

A fashion shoot the next day is interrupted by the appearance of Baba at the door. She scares off the model, tries to cop a feel, and recites some sort of incantation over Valentina's camera before leaving. From there on out, bad misfortune befalls anyone that Valentina takes a photograph of. It seems as if the camera has been cursed, but common sense convinces her otherwise.

Despite Baba Yaga's deepening obsession with her, Valentina decides to visit the witch's house--a large, old mansion with a hole in the floor that seems to go on forever. She is given permission to wander about and photograph what she so desires. Upon finding a kinky voodoo doll, Valentina becomes entranced and sexes herself up, if you will. Baba offers her the doll in question, assuring her that it will protect her from harm. It's all a lie, of course. The doll comes to life when the lights go out and takes pretty pictures of herself.

Baba next lures Valentina back to her house by kidnapping her camera and Baba gets her rocks off by beating her with a whip.

Sound bizarre? It is. There are no spooks, scares, gore or creepiness to speak of here, so it falls flat as a horror film. It does, however, stand out as a piece of counter-cultural cinema with its Warhol-esque characters, depictions of kinky sex, talk of social revolution, hallucinatory dream sequences and creative camera work. The flashbacks from previous scenes that pop up and repeat themselves ad infinitum are indicative of the literary “cut-up” technique pioneered by Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs, and is a testament to their long-standing influence on all forms of media.

Straight horror buffs will want to steer clear, but art-house horror hipsters who care more about the visuals than the story may find some value in this piece of forgotten Eurotrash.

ALSO KNOWN AS: Baby Yaga, Devil Witch; Black Magic; The Devil Witch; Kiss Me, Kill Me;


View the trailer below!


1973
Unrated
91 minutes
Color
Italy/France
Italian (English dubbed)

--J/Metro

3 comments:

  1. Lots of titles, but why didn't they just call it Valentina, since that's the name of the Guido Crepax comics that inspired the picture? It's been a while since I saw the film, but I remember it being as entertainingly weird as you describe it.

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  2. Ive been interested in seeing this for years but still havent picked it up, from the sounds of it it has some of the surreal visual stylism in LEMORA or LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN. Will have to check it out Jonny!

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  3. I agree this is another one of those European horror films where "style over story" is the order of the day. As time goes on, I grow more and more fascinated by how many of such movies get praised beyond their actual value as films... as do those who spent their careers creating this kind of movies. (This might be a good movie, but could it have been great is a little more attention had been paid to such niceties as story?)

    Great review, though!

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