Period piece set during the Inquisition about a witch-finder general who falls in love with the village beauty, who has made a pact with the devil to seduce and condemn the man who is ... See full summary »
Period piece set during the Inquisition about a witch-finder general who falls in love with the village beauty, who has made a pact with the devil to seduce and condemn the man who is killing off Satan's servants. Written by
I believe this is available in English now, but the version I saw was a Spanish language one off a full-screen PAL tape I bought in Buenos Aires. Judging from the rampant nudity, graphic violence, and general depravity it wasn't cut at least. This is Spanish actor Paul Naschy's strangely belated directorial debut. It is another entry into the 1970's "witch-hunter" genre inspired by such films as Michael Reeve's "The Conqueror Worm", Ken Russell's "The Devils", and the godawful but very seminal German film "Mark of Devil". This was a rather extreme genre which allowed for a lot of exploitative scenes of beautiful naked women being tortured, but also permitted filmmakers to at least pretend to criticize the real historical abuses of the Catholic Church. The latter would be especially resonant in Spain where in very recent times the Church had been a big supporter of the repressive Franco regime.
This movie is every bit as depraved and exploitative as any of its British, Italian, or German models, but it was interesting in that its victim (played by Italian actress Daniela Giordano)actually DOES sell her soul to the Devil, but only in order to take a supernatural (and, of course decidedly sexual) revenge on the corrupt witchfinder/inquisitioner played by Paul Naschy. The injection of actual supernatural elements (which was a peculiar characteristic of both the Spanish and Mexican versions of these films)kind of muddies the moral waters (not to mention the perceived historical accuracy) quite a bit.
As always, Naschy makes an interesting protagonist. He has always been one of the few actors brave enough to play characters that are not only despicable but also often pretty pathetic (and he's never been afraid to kill his character off early if it serves the plot), but he always somehow gets the audience on his side, and this movie is no exception--you end feeling sorry for his corrupt and wrongheaded inquisitioner by the end.
One weakness of Naschy movies though has been his leading actresses. He always casts pretty women who are willing to do rampant nude scenes, but they are usually pretty obscure actresses and not always very talented (with the exception of Erica Blanc, Patty Shepherd, and maybe Helga Line). It's good to see that he has a strong co-lead here in Daniela Giordana, a gorgeous former Miss Italy who showed a lot of promise in the Mario Bava sex comedy "Four Times that Night" but was pretty much wasted after that in throwaway parts in second-rate Italian gialli. Good movie. Check it out
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