Strange things have been happening to Valentina, a young and beautiful professional photographer, ever since she made the acquaintance of Baba Yaga, a mysterious older woman who gave her a lift home late one night. For one thing, Valentina has been having weird, kinky nightmares. For another, one of Valentina's cameras seems to have acquired a deadly curse. And then there was that visit to Baba Yaga's house, where Valentina discovered bizarre relics, including a dominatrix doll, and a bottomless pit in the living room. Valentina comes to realize that Baba Yaga is a witch who is out to possess her - body and soul. Written by
Eugene Kim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Silly and stylish, just the way I like my eurotrash
The more I see of the late 60s / early 70s pop art eurotrash films, the more addicted I become to them. I initially didn't really like their extreme favoring of style over substance and high art pretensions, but they've grown on me. They range from very good ("Danger: Diabolik", "Venus In Furs") to lesser (such as this one), but I'm rarely outright bored by them. Their silly psychedelic shadings will be a turn off from many cult fans admittedly, but their often beautiful style will attract others. They're often classier than their American counterparts. Don't expect any depth or a coherent story from these, just get lost in the feel.
"Baby Yaga" is a prime example, if not one of the finest from the subgenre. Its full of goofy symbolism which serves absolutely no purpose (just what was the deal with the recurring dreams about Nazism?). However, they're highly entertaining to watch and the sheer strangeness of them more than makes up for the pretentiousness. Even though he apparently feels the film was a failure, Corrado Farina's direction is quite good. It keeps everything moving at a quick pace. Also, the editing is very good and psychedelic (there's very few shots that last for more than three seconds). And while there's no depth to any of this, there is a degree of creativity. Don't attempt to follow the storyline either. While it isn't nearly as confusing as Jess Franco's films from the era, it gets a bit difficult to follow.
If there's one major failing of the film, its the acting. Granted, one doesn't go to these films for Oscar winning performances, but still. As the lead, Isabelle De Funès (resembling a petite cross between Barbara Steele and Louise Brooks) fairs decently enough. However, the hero George Eastman is insufferably dull and Carroll Baker is badly miscast. Certainly past her prime, I wonder if Baker was put in the film simply to generate some star power. She turns in a wooden performance and is way too old for the part. Also, the style begins to wear a bit thin during the last twenty minutes or so. This aside, "Baby Yaga" is still an entertaining bit of erotic-horror. If you're into this kind of thing, dig in. (6/10)
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