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Amando de Ossorio
In the 13th century there existed a legion of evil knights known as the Templars, who quested for eternal life by drinking human blood and committing sacrifices. Executed for their unholy ... See full summary »
Amando de Ossorio
María Elena Arpón
Renato Polselli's "Riti, Magie Nere e Segrete Orge Nel Trecento..." aka. Rites, Black Magic and Secret Orgies in the Fourteenth Century aka. "The Reincarnation of Isabel" (1973) is a clear case of style over substance that might well appeal to my fellow fans of bizarre Italian Horror / Exploitation productions whereas others are probably better advised to skip it. Polselli is probably best known for his 1972 Giallo "Delirio Caldo", whereas this film remains relatively obscure. This is understandable, since the weirdness, confusion and lack of logic presented in "The Reincarnation of Isabel" simply cannot appeal to everybody. Nonetheless, this film is recommendable to my fellow Italo-Horror buffs as a particularly bizarre and unusual production.
The plot centers around a witch burning in the 14th century, when Isabel (played by the stunning Rita Calderoni) is accused of witchcraft and burned; centuries later, people who seem to be (reincarnations of?) the accusers and the accused gather at a party in an old castle, and mysterious events begin to occur... or something.
The films wonderful visual style and elegant presentation of sleaze almost make it forgivable that the plot is utterly confusing and lacking any structure whatsoever. Visually, Polselli's film ranks only slightly below the works of masters such as Mario Bava and Antonio Margheriti - and this is a comparison I do not make frivolously. The cinematography is gorgeous, as are the ravishing actresses (Rita Calderoni above all). The film is as wonderfully sleazy as it may be expected from an Italian Occult Horror / Exploitation flick from the early 70s, and neither does it scant with the gore. However, there is simply no coherent storyline, but simply a collection of elegant, sleazy sequences attached to one another by a thin yet confusing plot. Apart from Rita Calderoni and a bunch of other beauties in the female cast, the film stars bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay. Once the husband of Jayne Mansfield, Hargitay spent most of his acting career in Italian Cult productions, including director Polselli's own "Delirio Caldo", "La Figlia Di Frankenstein" ("Lady Frankenstein", 1971) and the unintentionally hilarious "Il Boia Scarlatto" ("The Crimson Executionner", 1964).
"The Reincarnation of Isabel" is, simply put, weird, weird, WEIRD, and while some people (myself included) will have a great time watching it, others will roll their eyes. Personally, I enjoyed the film; however, the film's plotlessness manifested in my drink consumption while watching it - when the film began, I opened a beer which I thought was the only one I'd drink that night, but once the film was over I was drinking my fifth.
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