Markets of horror ideas move forward by bringing in discredited scholarly ideas, urban legends and the latest news. I've always suspected that the right turn in horror from lone psychos to satanic cults around about 1970 was motivated by fears aroused by the Manson Murder of Sharon Tate. Freda makes explicit reference to the similarity between Tate and the eight dead bodies in a mansion visited by a group of what are called hippies, though hair over the ear and a silk shirt does not a hippie make, when they watch the news on TV afterwards. Clearly then the movie implicates the innocent stumblers upon a satanic coven as guilty by association to what was going on in the news. Other than the frisson of a script trying to tease a story out of that possibility, however, this movie is pretty flat. Even the satanic rituals, though stylishly grounded in suits of armor, family crests, black everything, censers with airborne hallucinogens, and a helter skelter riot of murder, are bit odd. The setpiece of the movie is one acolyte getting his head sliced in half, and with a flashback we see that lovely moment five times. The connecting link is that the girl of the hippie group, played with eery awkwardness by waspy Camille Keaton, after they get in out of the rain at the castle, is lured by cellar chanting wetbreasted out of her bath and ends up horizontal under a sacrificial knife. The shot when she descends a grand staircase in steely blue billowing with stormtossed curtains communicates the terrible threshold (repeating an equally impressive grand staircase initiation shot in the same year's All the Colors of the Dark). The escape sequence , which also involves some deaths, is explained at the end. The chief priestess (Luciana Paluzzi) was stabbed, and is dying, but that is the point when extrasensory perception in a medium is at the utmost, allowing her spirit to jump into Keaton's body and then through Keaton have revenge and then when Keaton finally dies she is reborn. Why, this comes straight out of authentic Euro folklore going back to the third century, again explaining why its important to watch Italian horror. The fact that the movie is putatively set in Anglo Saxon locales such as Chelsea and that Scotland Yard shows up, when everything is obviously rural Italian, suggests how very strong the pull of Hammer England was to all Euro horror then (see also Seven Deaths in a Cats Eye).
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