Sunday, March 15, 2009

Honourable Mentions: Demons 5

Japanese VHSThis was a film made by Lamberto Bava and took its name as a cash in on the success he had found with his Demons series – though it has little to do with the franchise. Probably a more accurate name for the film was 'La Maschera del Demonio' a name it shared with one of his father's seminal movies – looked at on this blog under the title Black Sunday.

Now this does not have a vampire in sight but it does owe a certain to something to mario Bava's unusual vampire genre film. It does feature a long dead witch, killed as a heretic, with a spiked mask hammered onto her face. It also shares a common base story – Viy by Nikolai Gogol.

not quite Ski SundayAnother film based on the story was the astounding Russian movie Viy and this actually shares more of its story elements than Black Sunday did.

The basic story is that a group of skiers are dropped off by helicopter and start skiing down a mountain side. They are Davide (Giovanni Guidelli), Alessandra (Mary Sellars), Nora, Irma, Benny, Andrea, Sabina (Deborah Caprioglio) and Sergio. The snows crack into a cravas and the skiers fall through. Sabina breaks her leg.

the witch on iceThey find a body trapped in ice, with a mask over her face and Sergio digs through to take the mask. At this point we get winds whipping through and a landslide that blocks the cravas and kills Sergio when he is impaled. They find, deeper in the cravas, a church interior and manage to get through it into a village – no one questioning the logic of the village which would have had to be inside the mountain.

Davide and the priestIn the village is a blind priest (Stanko Malonar) who gives them shelter. Sabina's leg seems suddenly heealed and suddenly all the friends are acting oddly. The priest tells Davide of Anibas (Eva Grimaldi) – the witch – and has realised that the initials of his friends spell her name. Davide denies that Sabina is the S of the name and cites Sergio.

anibasThe priest tells him to look at Sabina in the mirror and the looking glass does not show a witch or demon but rather it shows her name necklace backwards – spelling Anibas. To make the psychedelically long story short, Davide ends up killing Sabina when she turns into a crone as they get intimate. One can't really blame him, to be fair, as there was a huge amount of crone slobber!

SabinaHis friends force him to sit vigil with her body and this is straight from the Gogol story and subsequently the Russian version of the movie (the killing of the hag and the sitting vigil with the young, beautiful girl). In this case it is not over three nights but in one sitting, however it does share other elements with the original.

in the mystic circleTo protect himself he draws a circle around himself. Okay it is in water and leads to a green, glowing circle – but it is a circle none the less. In what I assumed was a nod to the Russian film we even get a levitating sarcophagus – though we do not see Sabina riding in it during its flight.

medusa likeThis is not a great film and it is not, by any stretch, a vampire movie. But it is based on some of the finest source material in the vampire genre (or at least owes them a nod). We get a Medusa type effect at one point and we do get a cannibalistic feast. Definitely an unusual, and rather rare, film.

The imdb page is here.

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