Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beware the voodoo sex dolls of 'Baba Yaga'!

Baba Yaga (aka "Kiss Me, Kill Me" or "The Devil Witch") (1973)
Starring: Isabelle De Funes, Carroll Baker, and George Eastman
Director: Carrado Farina
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Commercial photographer Valentina (De Funes) becomes the target of the twisted effections of immortal, sadistic lesbian witch Baba Yaga (Baker). As Valentina's models and friends start falling victim to mysterious curses, she turns to her filmmaker friend Arno (Eastman) for help. Will they together be able to overcome supernatural lesbianic powers as old time itself?

"Baba Yaga" is a decidedly weird movie. From beginning to end, it has a dreamlike quality about it, and as it progresses and Valentina is snared increasingly by Baba Yaga's dark powers, it starts to feel like a nightmare. Usually, films of the disjointed, somewhat pretentious variety that is represented here bug me. But here, we have a film that is so well done that I can accept the quirky, illogical and random nature of many of the events. The acting also reflects the dream-sense that permeates the film, with De Funes being particularly fun (and sexy) to watch.

Part horror movie, part bizarro softcore Euro-trash sexploitation flick, "Baba Yaga" is strange and well-makde enough that it's worth a look. The climax where Valentina is trapped by Baba Yaga and a bondage voodoo sex-doll come to life, and Arno is attempting to rescue her, is extremely well done.

I hesitate to recommend "Baba Yaga" as a film you should seek out, but I found it an interesting movie.

(Trivia: The movie is based on an Italian comic series, "Valentina". I read a few album reprints when I was a kid, and I remember them as being strange and sexy, just like this movie. De Funes' appearance is also very much like the character appears in Crepax's drawings, which are displayed during the opening credits. So, I guess this sets "Baba Yaga" aside as one of those rare successful comic book film adaptations.)

(Special Bonus Trivia: Artist Crepax based the look of Valentina on actress Louise Brooks. You can check out pictures of the real thing at the companion blog Shades of Gray by clicking here.)


  1. Hey, I reviewed this movie on my blog some time back. As a horror movie, I felt that it fell flat...but as a pretentious piece of Arthouse Euro-Sleaze, I thought it was pretty damned good! A lot of the visuals were amazing.

    My Review (if you're interested)

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