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La strega in amore (1966)

R  |   |  Horror, Mystery  |  August 1969 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 140 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 7 critic

A historian goes to a castle library to translate some ancient erotic literature. While there he discovers what he believes to be supernatural forces at work.

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Title: La strega in amore (1966)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Sergio Logan
...
Aura
...
Fabrizio
Sarah Ferrati ...
Consuelo Lorente
Margherita Guzzinati ...
Lorna
Vittorio Venturoli ...
Marco Romani
Ivan Rassimov ...
Il bibliotecario
Ester Carloni
Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia
Elisabetta Wilding
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Storyline

A historian goes to a castle library to translate some ancient erotic literature. While there he discovers what he believes to be supernatural forces at work.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

August 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aura  »

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 »
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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(Westrex Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Both Luis Buñuel and Carlos Saura had considered making a film out of the novel "Aura" by Carlos Fuentes. Fuentes wasn't too happy with this version and declared that either Buñuel or Saura would have done a much better job. See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Witch ***
26 February 2006 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

When my pal at the DVD store told me that he had ordered Damiano Damiani's THE WITCH, I admitted that I had never heard of it before - although, on looking up the film under its original Italian title, I had the notion that it may have been shown on late-night TV without my realizing what sort of film it was! In any case, having now watched it for myself, THE WITCH has proved to be one of the most pleasant film-viewing surprises I've had since the beginning of the year! Ostensibly a horror film, it doesn't easily fit into the genre since Damiani approaches it, for the most part, as if it were a Kafkaesque art-house flick (with an undeniable erotic charge, which was as unexpected in this kind of film as it was effective)! This isn't in itself a bad thing, since THE WITCH has a very elegant look to it - in direct contrast to the endless spate of undistinguished low-budget productions being churned out by the Italian film industry during this time - extending to the production design (its excellent use of locations is a major asset) and the inspired use of shadowy lighting (coming as it did at the tail-end of black-and-white horror-film production) which is comparable to the work of Mario Bava. As a matter of fact, it reminded me quite a bit of the latter's KILL, BABY...KILL!, made the same year (albeit shot in color) and also largely set in a decrepit mansion; besides, Rosanna Schiaffino's hypnotic beauty and wonderful performance can stand proudly alongside Barbara Steele's iconic showcase in BLACK Sunday (1960) and especially that of Daliah Lavi in THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963) - both of which, incidentally, were also directed by Bava! The rest of the cast features Richard Johnson (fresh from another subtle horror piece, Robert Wise' THE HAUNTING [1963]) as the bewildered love-struck hero, Sarah Ferrati (here in only her second film and which also proved to be the last!) as the creepy-looking old "lady" who sets the complex plot in motion - and who has an unexplained predilection towards torturing cats (loving animals as much as I do, I found these scenes somewhat disturbing!), Gian Maria Volonte' (excellent as Schiaffino's distraught former lover who still resides in the doomed mansion) and Ivan Rassimov (who is set to take over Johnson's double duties at the house, until the latter resolves to put an end to the whole charade in the fiery climax). Apart from the latter scene (and, of course, the sexy bits), perhaps the film's best moment is when Schiaffino goes - convincingly - into convulsions (years prior to THE EXORCIST [1973]) and discloses her "true" identity to a horrified Richard Johnson.

From the few comments I've managed to find about the film, most have described it as being slow and pretentious. While I wasn't bothered by the film's deliberate pace (and I usually am in this type of film!), I must say that I am prone to appreciate intelligence in a horror film even more than in virtually any other genre - since it's the one that has suffered most at the hands of untalented film-makers and exploitative producers who go for the easy buck and are content to follow the current trend without "putting their mind to it", as it were. The DVD I watched, unfortunately, was a full-frame affair, fuzzy-looking (possibly sourced from a 16mm print) and poorly dubbed (which, coupled with the rather muffled audio, made the dialogue hard to understand at times!). I do hope that a more deserving edition of this gem eventually surfaces but, if not, I'll be on the look-out for it in the event that it turns up (again) on late-night Italian TV...

Damiano Damiani was just one of many Italian film-makers who made their mark on Italian "cult" cinema during the 60s and 70s and while he isn't among the more celebrated of the bunch, from what I've seen of his work

  • ARTURO'S ISLAND (1962), THE WITCH, A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL (1967),


HOW TO KILL A JUDGE (1974) and THE INQUIRY (1987) - he more than holds his own; this reminds me that I have Damiani's IL GIORNO DELLA CIVETTA (1968) and THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN (1975) lying in my ever-increasing "Unwatched Films on VHS" pile...not to mention 2 starring lovely Schiaffino and 9 with Volonte' (surely one of Italy's most versatile and important actors)!!


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