Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Devil’s Wedding Night – review


Directed by: Luigi Batzella

Release Date: 1973

Contains Spoilers

The version I watched for this review was the Elvira’s Movie Macabre DVD and the first thing to say is what an awful print. Green lines score the screen all the way through, becoming a haze of green from time to time and there are some pretty horrendous jumps in the film. The colour is so washed out that things seem to dissolve into a faded pink in many of the daylight scenes. Not that a pristine print would have helped this cheesy Eurohorror sexploitation flick. Though in its favour there are some impressive visuals very occasionally.

The story is a real mismatch of concepts and sources, and I can not really explain the film without running through it fairly thoroughly – actually I don’t know if I’ll be able to explain it even then. We start with Karl Schiller (Mark Damon), a bookish archaeologist researching a ring that gives the wearer strange and evil powers. His twin, and libertine, brother, Franz (also played by Damon), enters and quotes Poe’s the Raven at him. the Nibelungen ring in actionKarl explains that he thinks he has discovered the location of the Nibelungen ring (of Wagnerian fame). This gold ring set with a ruby like stone not of this earth (from a meteorite that crashed in the Carpathians is the theory Karl expounds) gives the wearer dominion over mankind. It’s location, Transylvania. Franz points out that Transylvania is the land of vampires, creatures alive without life and dead without death. Karl is not afraid of vampires, even if they exist, as he has an Egyptian amulet (!) that protects the wearer from all supernatural evil. He’s going to donate the ring, when found, to the Karnstein museum (Karnstein as in the vampire’s familial name in Carmilla.)

Franz is not a very nice man. He readily admits he has gambling debts. He nicks the amulet and sets off ahead of his brother. He stops off at the village inn near Castle Dracula (yes Castle Dracula, the mix of concepts keeps on coming) and orders a beer and a bed. In the inn is a strange man (Gengher Gatti) who appears often the dog, the dog... he's at it again...through the film with no explanation of who he is - but he’s obviously evil. Franz is shown to his room by Tanya (Enza Sbordone) the innkeeper’s daughter. She tells Franz that the next night is the night of the Virgin Moon. A night that occurs once every fifty years on which five virgins are summoned to the castle and never seen again. Franz makes sure that such a fate will not befall Tanya – the dirty dog.

The next day he goes to the castle, posing as a researcher of archaeology, and is shown in by Lara (Esmerelda Barros) and told to wait for the Countess (Rosalba Neri). Now the Countess has a name that I didn’t really catch but is quoted in the credit’s as Countess Dracula – given Hammer’s film of the same name, one cannot help but think of Erzsébet Báthory and this characters actions, later, support that idea. Franz suddenly realises he has lost the amulet; it is under his pillow in the inn and found by Tanya. As night falls he gets bored and wanders outside. There is a screech and he finds Lara dead in a coffin. A shadow flits past. He chases it to the crypt and then he’s back in the drawing room and facing the Countess who shows him that Lara is very much alive. They eat (he doesn’t seem to notice that her plate is empty) and then he quickly beds her (told you he was a dirty dog) and, during, she becomes a bat – more on the bat later.

Karl turns up at the castle looking for his brother. The Countess informs him that his brother has left (in reality Lara has cracked Franz over the head and rendered him unconscious). bloodbathKarl is asked to stay the night and given wine, served by the mysterious man, a sip and suddenly the mysterious man is Lara, Karl is laughing hysterically and we hit a psychedelic scene that is beyond description. During the sequence we do get a rather good blood bath sequence (hence the Báthory suggestion) as well as a gratuitous lesbian scene and Franz entombed.

Not worse for wear despite his bout of uncontrollable hysteria, it seems, Karl is taken to a room for the night and then locked in. He manages to get out and searches the castle, heading oh to have lop-sided fangs(to the sound of a heartbeat, which brings Poe to mind again) unerringly to the tomb where he finds his brother – not before he is attacked by a vampire (Xiro Papas) who is rather easily knocked out and has the most amusing lop-sided fangs. Anyhoo, Paul drags his brother out of the crypt and we see that Franz no longer has a reflection. Amusingly when we see Karl with his brother he struggles along with him, when we see the reflection version he no longer seems to be burdened and walks with ease!

Anyway, it seems that the Countess’ plan has been to turn Franz and let him be possessed by Count Dracula. wanted - mystical ring useful for summoning virginsUsing the ring to summon five virgins, she plans to have a black mass wedding. What she hadn’t counted on was Tanya nipping up to the spooky castle with the amulet (well who would have expected a frightened village girl to go traipsing up to the vampire’s castle at night). What we hadn’t planned on was Tanya getting caught despite the amulet – which seemed pretty useless in the main – luckily Karl conveniently finds it where she dropped it when grabbed.

Franz vamps outHe’s still not aware that his brother is a vampire and thinks Franz is playing along with the Countess. That is until Franz grows fangs and attacks. Having defeated Franz, Karl takes his place at the black mass and is asked to sacrifice Tanya (so virgins are not required for that bit of the ritual). His ruse is discovered as he has a reflection. A mass fight ensues following which he chases after the countess who is chasing after Tanya.

Tanyalook at the bloomin' size of it is cornered on the roof and the Countess bats out again. Look at the screenshot and the size of the bugger would you. No wonder Franz screamed like a girl when it loomed above him in bed. It seems a shame because, for once, it had seemed that a film (by using footage of a live bat) had got the nocturnal critters right and then they spoil it by having this giant thing created with some bad superimposing! Anyway, Karl appears and suddenly the amulet is working. The Countess backs of and he chops her hand off. She vanishes. Fin.

Not quite. We have the coda. Franz stakedFirst of all Karl stakes and buries his brother. He then leaves the amulet on the grave to protect Franz in death. Getting in a carriage with Tanya she has a look at the ring and then… well what a shock, despite being daytime, she sprouts fangs and bites him, causing him to drop the ring into the hand of the mysterious man who drives them away whilst invisible… But wait, its not yet over for we see Franz’ hand emerge from the grave and, in quite an aesthetically pleasing shot, take the amulet. Phew….

As you can see a real mismatched set of ideas that is coupled with poor dialogue and, in the main, poor cinematography. That said the hand from the grave and the bloodbath both really look very good, stand out gems you might say. Another plus is the soundtrack, really cheesy but great fun.

The acting is not good and the run of events absolutely implausible though there is a fair amount of gratuitous nudity as one would expect from a 70’s cheap European horror movie. The film is simply bizarre. The mismatch of concepts boggles the mind and I forgot to mention (speaking of the overdose of concepts) that the Countess jokes that Lara has the demeanour of a zombie and in the credits she is called a zombie – another concept to add to the list and thus an early example of a vampire and zombie softcore lesbian sex scene!

A final mention regarding the mysterious man, I do wonder if he was meant to be based on the mysterious man in the earlier (non-vampire) movie “The Devil’s Nightmare” (1971), if so that would essentially make him represent the Devil. There was just a similarity to the characters, at least to my thinking.

I’m giving this film 2.5 out of 10, and part of the score is for the bloodbath scene, which really did work well.

The imdb page is here.


Mark said...

I picked up this Movie Macabre version (which was coupled with Legacy of Blood) over the Halloween season. Absolutely terrible. Strangely enough, only the cheesy Elvira segments kept me from switching the movie off before completion.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Mark. I picked this one up and Count Dracula's Great Love from that series. Expet the great love review soon.

The film is awful and yet, being a glutton for punnishment, I remained morbidly fascinated just to see what they'd throw in next!

But I agree, generally terrible - though I did like the bloodbath.