Monday, September 22, 2014

The Reincarnation of Isabel (Black Magic Rites) (Riti, magie nere e segrete orge nel trecento ...) (1973)

Renato Polselli's The Reincarnation of Isabel (also known as Black Magic Rites) (Riti, magie nere e segrete orge nel trecento ...) (1973) is a nearly incomprehensible fever dream of cinematic imagination. Mickey Hargitay purchases a castle that is occupied by a group of vampires waiting for enough virgin blood to bring back to life the queen witch, Isabel. He throws a housewarming (castle-warming?) party, and the film begins its descent into lunacy. Alternating between past and present, we're shown glimpses of Isabel's torture and execution. For the rest of the movie, Polselli offers a nightmarish montage of abduction, torture, and ritual as the vampires accumulate enough virgins to complete their ceremony.

Polselli's story might not make much narrative sense, but visually he offers an overwhelmingly awesome display of style. He is a truly erotic director, one who transforms space and narrative through the aesthetics of eroticism. Cuts are dictated by ecstasy, body movement, impulse, and are assembled not for narrative cohesion but visual sensation. The whole movie is edited like a sex montage. Time doesn't pass literally. The collision of bodies and space between shots moves the story forward without concern for logic or clarity. Polselli is an inebriated , one driven by pleasure, pain, fear, orgasm, fantasy, desire, and a whole onslaught of other vividly rendered emotions.

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