Sunday, November 17, 2013

Black Magic Rites (Renato Polselli, 1973)

Since my mind is still racing after having just witnessed Black Magic Rites (a.k.a. Riti, magie nere e segrete orge nel trecento...) for the very first time, I've decided to start things off at a slower pace than usual. But don't worry, there's plenty of insanity to come, as this film, directed Renato Polselli, is the epitome of de-ranged. The point I'd like to make before I lose my shit has to with the fact that I had no idea what was going on half the time. Call it filmed madness, call it a psychedelic nightmare, this flick will cause even the most hardened of movie watchers to plunge their meaty paws down the front of their trousers and start aggressively scratching the area located between their genitals and anus 'til there's nothing left but a superfluous patch of the splotchy nothingness. Then it dawned on me, what is "going on"? And why is it so flipping important to know...what's "going on"? There has to be a more eloquent way to put that. But until that way comes along and repeatedly beats me over the head with its wayward ways, it will have to do. No foolin', does not knowing what's "going on" actually enhance the viewing experience? It might matter if, say, the film you're watching is plot-based or is one of those pesky films that insist on telling a story. However, I don't see those things effecting the ebb and flow of this unsavoury slab of first-rate Eurosleaze. Truth be told, the real reason I'm dismissing the importance of knowing what's "going on" in regard to this film has something to do with the fact that I don't want to have to explain the plot. I thought you said that this wasn't those kind of films? It isn't, but there's still a beginning, a middle and an end, and the characters insist on saying words. Out loud? Totally out loud.

If you don't mind, let me take a quick look-see at the words I just typed. Hmmm, while the part about the splotchy taint seemed a little long-winded, I think I made my point.

You made your point? It looks like it. Does this mean you're going to start obsessing over the smallest details in the most over-analytical manner possible? Yeah, I think so. Awesome. Just as long as you don't expect me to make any sense. You never make any sense. Oh yeah, that's right, I don't.

When I first saw her mock pirouetting at a swanky party in a black midriff-exposing outfit with feathery sleeves, I thought to myself: Now she's oozing the kind of crazy that I like. Oh, and before I continue, you wanna how swanky this party was? I'll tell you how, I saw a couple of guys wearing sliver lamé blazers. Fuck, that is swanky. Okay, continue.

Where was I? You were about to revel the name of this perpetually off-balance vision of brainsick loveliness. While I don't think I was about to do that, I'll revel her name, nonetheless. Drum roll, please. Even though there are plenty of mentally unwell European women to worship in this film, my veneration begins and ends with Stefania Fassio as Steffy, the garrulous headcase who writhed and gesticulated her way into the rarely penetrated nooks and crannies of my jet-black heart.

Speaking of hearts, a woman in a red pleated mini-skirt is screaming "aiuto" over and over again in a dungeon-setting. Check out the way the candlelight accentuates her pantyhose ensnared thighs, it's a beautiful sight to behold. What does that have to do with hearts? Oh, I'm sorry, I guess I was distracted; pantyhose ensnared thighs illuminated by candlelight have a way of doing that.

After being tied to a slab by a bunch of bearded Satanists in red unitards, and screaming "aiuto" (which means "help" in Italian) about a thousand times, the Satanists forcibly remove her heart and drink her blood. Why are they doing this, you ask? Well, from what I could gather, they were paying tribute to Isabella, The Great Mistress, who is currently chained to the wall.

Screaming in Italian, writhing, trippy colours, almost thigh-high boots, kaleidoscopic weirdness, preheated torture tools, demonic dogs barking in the distance, kooky editing, and pantyhose ensnared thighs, I have to say, this film had me eating out of the palm of its hand almost immediately.

As the Satanists finished drinking the woman in the red mini-skirt's blood and our attention quickly turns to the writhing antics of a sultry blonde who is making mincemeat out her bed (writhing can be murder on mattresses), I couldn't help but think back to when I was attending summer school in, oh, let's say, the mid-1970s. Wait, that's too far back. Okay, how 'bout mid-1990s? Sure, that will do. Anyway, if you were to tell me, as I sat there bored out of my mind at my little desk, that one day I will be able to watch Black Magic Rites utilizing my own freewill, I would have told you that you're not playing with a full deck. What I'm getting at is, I like to think this movie has been patiently waiting for me to discover it.

In truth, though, I should have discovered it sooner, as I'm huge fan of Renato Polselli's Delirium. Featuring the same actors, Delirium, as we all know, opens with a closeup shot of Stefania Fassio's jukebox adjacent legs, which are driving Mickey Hargitay mad with psychosexual desire. Well, in Black Magic Rites, Mickey plays "Jack Nelson," who is accompanying his stepdaughter, Laureen (Rita Calderoni), to see the castle he just bought.

Meanwhile, Christia (Christa Barrymore) is standing nearby in a manner that reminded me of Laibach (the fur vest she wore and her stoic demenour in general were very Laibachian as well). If you're familiar with Neue Slowenische Kunst, you'll probably agree with that statement. If, however, you're not, I apologize for making such an obscure reference. Seriously, when Christa Barrymore, who's also in Delirium, first appeared onscreen, I thought I was watching an Opus Dei-era Laibach video.

Grab your flashiest blazer and your chicest pair of boots, Mickey Hargitay, oh, I'm sorry, "Jack Nelson" (it's hard getting used to calling him that, as he doesn't seem like a "Jack Nelson") is throwing a castle warming/engagement party for his stepdaughter, who is marrying the pratt in the silver jacket, Richard (William Darni), I think his name was. At any rate, Steffania Fassio's Steffy makes her first appearance at this hifalutin social gathering, and, boy, is it a doozy.

Twirling around in her midriff revealing outfit, Steffy says "bye" about seven times in quick succession before pirouetting out the front door with a girlish aplomb. She doesn't get very far, though, as an unseen monster apparently prevents her from leaving. Writhing on the stairs in a fit, Steffy unleashes a rapid fire barrage of crazed nonsense as the rest of the party guests look on (there's not a bland blazer in the bunch).

Since the version of the film I watched was in its original Italian, the speed in which Stefania Fassio recites her dialogue was mind-blowing. I had no idea anyone could talk that fast. And I have to say, it was quite the turn on.

Recovering from her experience with the unseen monster, Steffy is back doing what she does best, annoying creeps in gaudy blazers and being adorable.

Not one to let the men have all the fun, gaudy blazer-wise, that is, Christa shows up at the party wearing a funky ass blazer as well. Is there anything sexier than a lippy lesbian who is obsessed with transparent scarfs that tell the future? What's that? There is? Oh, well, you got to admit, Christa is looking damn sexy in her jacket and tie ensemble.

Shouldn't you mention the part where we flashback to the 14th century and watch a clearly distraught Mickey Hargitay watch a justifiably frazzled Rita Calderoni being burnt at the stake? I guess, but since you just mentioned it for me, I don't really have to, now do I? Well played my friend.

On the bright side, I can now focus my attention on Stefania Fassio, who is currently entertaining a smattering of party guests by pirouetting on top of a table while singing, "La-la-la-la-la." I can't remember how many "la's" she employs during her pirouette, but trust me, it was a lot. Falling to the floor in a heap of clumsiness, Steffy looks sad.

Cheer up, Steffy, Christa, and her redheaded gal pal Lenda (Christina Perrier), are about to experience the chromatic hell that is the torture basement, a place where every goblet emits a menacing plume of smoke or your money back. I'm not 100% sure, but I think Christa is killed during her stay in the torture basement. Does that mean no more prancing about in caramel short-shorts? Yep. No more gallivanting along the castle walls in tacky vests? What do you think? That's a shame because...

Whoa! Check out the hat Steffy is wearing at Christa's funeral, it's coven-fabulous.

Judging by that last statement, it's obvious that my viewing of Black Magic Rites has taken on a life of its own. I'm sure if I put my mind to it, I could easily figure out what this film is all about. But I have to say, the uncut adorableness Stefania Fassio is putting out there on a semi-regular basis is making me not want to.

In the latter half section of the film, Stefania Fassio spends most of her time in her bedroom with Viveca (actress unknown), her blonde "friend," and a goofy guy with a twitchy eye (actor unknown). It's during these scenes where we really get a sense of how awesome Steffy's eyelashes really are.

While Viveca licks Steffy's knees and the goofy eye twitch guy penetrates her not-so garrulous pussy, the men go insane (even the shifty guy who isn't Donald Pleasence gets in on the insane action) and start ravishing the women. Stormy weather, neck biting, writhing, screaming, nipple kissing, brunettes in pantyhose, rattling chains, hairy armpits, ritualistic chanting, headbands, flowery panties underneath forlorn pantyhose, things, as you can clearly tell, are going off the rails.

When Rita Calderoni's fiance yells, "Nothing is real anymore," I have to say, he might be onto something. Only problem is, I can't take anything seriously said by a man wearing a day-glo abortion masquerading as a blazer.

Has Satan been defeated yet? 'Cause I'd like to wrap this thing up. Hey, look, the goofy eye twitch guy is trying to remove a hair from his tongue. Oh, goofy eye twitch guy in Black Magic Rites, why do I envy you so? Um, maybe because he got to pop Steffy's cherry in the vicinity of a blonde without a chin. Oh yeah, that's right. Lucky bastard. Aiuto! Aiuto! Aiuto!


  1. I was going to recommend this to you but may have forgotten to.

    I love Stefania. According to IMDB, she is also known as "Steffy Steffen", which I'm pretty sure is one of the villains in Valley Girl.

    Oh, I started a Tumblr, finally:

    Be aware that I may occasionally post pics I found on RL that I saved on my hard drive, in the stone age when I didn't have a Tumblr.

  2. Don't you mean Steffy Steffen von Steffersen?

    Holy crap, I forgot that Steffy Fassio did only three movies (I had this idea she did more). :( Anyway, Black Magic Rites is definitely her crowning achievement.

    Yay! Tommy Duke is on the Tumblr. Consider your ass followed.

  3. 【pant, gasp, snurrgle.....】

    unholy fucking hell.....

    just looking at the screencaps is getting me all hot and bothered. You know how deeply I feel about black magic rites...

    I think Steffy borrowed that hat from Kaji Meiko.

    Please tell me there are vampires in this.

    I absolutely need to watch this as soon as possible.

    I always thought Barbara Steele or Soledad Miranda were the most beautiful women to exist in Europe in modern history. I think we can add one more.

  4. The IMDB description says there are vampires, but I don't remember seeing any vampires. Satanists, yes, but vampires?!? Actually, maybe there were... ahh, what do I know, I only just watched the movie. ;)

    Taissa Farmiga wears a hat similar to Steffy's on American Horror Story: Coven.

    Lumping Stefania with the likes of Steele and Miranda is high praise indeed.

  5. Ok, I just watched this last night. My mind and nether-regions are still dripping with the satanic psychosexual funk of this film. It got me all hot and bothered.

    I apologize, but I have to re-evaluate things now that I've seen the performances, instead of just jumping at screen shots of red-haired actresses with huge eyes. Stefania is indeed luscious and quite the comedian. But I was severely beguiled by Christa Barrymore in this. I thought her performance had the most icy otherworldly heat. And also the potential for her own entire series of erotic vampire films: "Christa- The Wandering Vampire." She was the character I was the most emotionally involved with. Which doesn't usually happen in these kinds of films where the plot is all goofyville.

    Yes, I'm going to watch this again very soon.

  6. And it looks like she only made TWO films. Geez. So unfair. Monika M. only made two movies, as well.

  7. I did include six, count 'em, six, Christa Barrymore-related screen pics, so, I'm down with her... what did you call it? oh yeah, icy brand of otherworldly heat, as well.

    It's a shame about Steff Steff being in only two movies, but like they say, it's sometimes good to leave them wanting more.

    Anyway, I'm glad you likey.