Wednesday, October 28, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Baba Yaga (1973, 1975)

Baba Yaga (1975)

I started watching this one a couple of years ago, but for some reason, I never finished it.  I kept meaning to come back to it but never did.  Next thing I knew Amazon Prime no longer listed it.  So I picked up the Blue Underground BluRay of it.  I always enjoy Blue Underground's DVDs and BluRays, so when I saw they had this one I knew I better jump on it.  

So glad I did.  Blue Underground is now listing it as Out of Print.  If the years of doing this October Challenge has taught me anything it is to jump on the movie when you can, I have lost track of all the ones that have gone out of print or have become unavailable over the years. 

Carroll Baker plays a very haunting version of Baba Yaga, one is immediately reminded of Delphine Seyrig's Elizabeth Báthory from "Daughters of Darkness".  Isabelle De Funès plays Valentina, a photographer in Milan. They meet when Baba Yaga's car nearly hits Valentina while she is petting a stray dog.

After Baba Yaga takes a clip from Valentina's garter belt some strange things start to happen.   
Valentina goes to Baba Yaga's home and it is wonderfully creepy. Full of strange antiques, seemingly bottomless wholes, and a doll wearing S&M gear. Though when photographed it is wearing a normal doll's dress.   There are times too when the doll seems to come to life (played by Ely Galleani).  

There is also a clear plastic phone that I am sure was the coolest thing ever in 1975.

When Valentina's models start to get hurt or die she begins to suspect that Baba Yaga might be a witch. 

The movie is slow. No doubt. And it tries to be experimental in places, various hallucinations or visions of fascism or even silent German horror films. But it does have a nice creepy vibe and you never really know what is real or not. 

The story is based on the Italian comic, or fumetti, Valentina by Guido Crepax.  The movie even features some of the art from the comics in the credits and the actors can be seen paging through some of the comics.  Isabelle De Funès certainly has the look of Valentina down.  She looks like she walked right off the page, to be honest. 

The movie is listed as 91 minutes on IMDB, but my BluRay is 83 minutes.  There are some cut scenes on the BluRay that add up to the missing time.  But I am not sure if they are the same missing minutes or not.   They don't really add anything to the movie really. 

Watched: 51
New: 35

NIGHT SHIFT and Old-School Content
Movies about Baba Yaga in English are so rare. This one was dubbed into English from Italian, so rarer still.  This is not your Russian Grandmother's Baba Yaga. This Baba Yaga drives Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud not a mortar and pestle.  The ancient myths of Baba Yaga were about an old witch that devoured or sometimes protected young girls.  The Swinging 70s Baba Yaga is an older woman that preys on younger women in a carnal way. What would a 21st Century Baba Yaga be like?  Maybe a powerful businesswoman, who employs a number of young beautiful women. Likely models or maybe webcam girls.  In the modern retelling, she is not a predator that eats or seduces the young women, but rather uses them up in other ways. Maybe something like I did with Willow & Tara: Web of Lies.

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