Baba Yaga (Kiss Me Kill Me) (The Devil Witch) (1973)
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A pretty damn good Italian horror adaptation of an Italian comic book that deals with the occult and some S&M (but not too much). Valentina is a fashion photographer, who hangs around intellectual lefty artist types. One night after leaving a party, she runs into a dog, who is about to get hit by a car. Che dives in front of the car and pushed the dog out the way, luckily survivng. The women behind the wheel goes by the name of Baba Yaga. Shes a strange lady, with obviouis lesbian tendencies and perhaps also Magikal abilities. It does quickly become apparent that Baba has indeed put a spell on Valentina, but is this all in Valentina's imagination or is it real. The movie is heavily stylized, with rapid and intresting editing, plentiful dream sequences (involving nazi's whips and dominatrix's amongst other things), lots of photographic stills, and is a pleasure to look at. The story itself is also highly unusual. When I read the synopsis I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was about to see, being that these were common themes in Italian horror in the 70's. I was pleasantly surprised that this film had it's own personality, and manages to stay away from the sleazier aspects that a lot of other Italian filmmakers would focus on. For example most of the S & M is only implied at, with only one scene actually confronting it face to face. The scene is brief and not too graphic. Definently a tasteful choice, as this way one can actually focus on the ideas the film is trying to get accross, rather than confrontational imagery alone. The film does drag at times, and at a little under 90 minutes that shouldn't have been the case. but still this is a highly interesting, enjoyable and creative horror that is not easy to pigeonhole, and truly stands on its own, and not just another example of Italian giallo, cannibal, supernatural etc. which too many other Italian horrors of this period have a tendency of doing.
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