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Udo Kier is a witch hunter apprentice to Herbert Lom. He believes strongly in his mentor and the ways of the church but loses faith when he catches Lom strangling Reggie Nalder to death for calling him impotent. Kier begins to see for himself that the witch trials are nothing but a scam of the church to rob people of their land, money, and other personal belongings of value and seduce beautiful big breasted women. Eventually, the townspeople revolt, Herbert Lom escapes but poor Udo is captured by the towns people. This film contains very strong graphic torture including a women's tongue being ripped out of her head,nuns being raped(in the opening credits), and lots of beatings. Written by
An allegedly true tale of Austrian witchcraft trials... we follow one accused witch over the course of a few days as she tries to convince her captor she's innocent.
This film is considered shocking and disturbing and is still banned in various countries (including its native Germany). I watched the 96 minute unedited version, and I think the film should be banned no longer. The gore is there. Witches burned alive, one has her tongue ripped out, and another scene that made me physically ill showed a finger in a vise. But overall, I think worse films have been made and are shown worldwide ("Cannibal Ferox", "Saw"... and some might include "Hostel").
There was also some nudity, though surprisingly less than one would expect. Many nude scenes were films at angles so the nudity was never really shown. Sure, you can argue "this was 1970, they didn't have nudity in films back then"... but I saw "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls", so don't blow smoke up my bottom. Show me some bodacious babes and chiseled men! The main actress of this film was surprisingly attractive, a rarity in 1970s films in my opinion.
The plot was fairly decent. The main character, Vanessa Bendikt, falls for Udo Kier, the apprentice of the local witch judge. Kier, a horror legend, is very young in this movie and has yet to acquire the wrinkled "creepy German guy" face I know him for... but those ice eyes are unmistakable. Vanessa is accused of witchcraft after refusing to sleep with the hideous witch hunter, and Udo Kier must choose between his love for this woman and the loyalty to his master.
In love after only a day or two, you say? Ludicrous! Maybe, but if you hear them giggling and listen to the music played in the background, you would agree they are in love... it's like the bicycle scene from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" where Burt Bacharach is singing "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head". It's so cliché, but works for a reason I will never understand.
I would not consider this a great movie... not by horror standards or even by movie standards in general. But I would call it a classic, and maybe even a cult film. Heck, Rob Zombie even took a sample from it (the line "the devil is in all of you"), so obviously at least a few of our modern horror masters have been inspired. Maybe you'll get something out of it I didn't.
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