on October 23, 2003
Baba Yaga is the movie-wise definition of compelling. - This is one of those films that if you saw it in a movie theater you'd be afraid to go to the bathroom for fear you'd miss something. Luckily on DVD you can pause it.
After 10 minutes your rivited to this film to the end. Really plays and looks like a comic strip. Freeze-frame almost any scene and it has comic strip angles, framing, color and people. Whoever said there wasnt nudity is wrong - there is plenty but its approriate and stylish (but not very sexy) to it's underground comic book style.
You cant quite figure out what is going on but you cant take your eyes off the film.
Ultimatly - Baba Yaga is a sexy, old/young, lesbian witch with a cute little S&M doll - together they try to seduce our hero - a sexualy confused but hot babe. Thats what I think its about.
The film was shot by a fine director who apparently only made two movies - too bad.
Baba Yaga is an Italian film but, for the most part, well dubbed into english. Most actors were actually speaking english anyway.
Natzis, nudity, S&M, beautiful girls, murder, political commentarty and witches to name a few of the things going on in this film. Those who are true fans of comic books should love it.
on June 2, 2003
This movie is based on an Italian comic strip steeped deep in rich dream symbolism and sadomasochism. I felt the movie succeeds only partially in the mixing of dream and reality, which is odd, since so many Italian horror movies and giallos eschew rational in favor of dream logic.
The main plot revolves around the title character's (Baba Yaga) scheme to draw the comic strip's main protagonist, Valentina, into the underground world of lesbianism and witchcraft. Considering Valentina's politics, not to mention her sensitive New Age guy boyfriend, Arno (played by George Eastman), its a wonder that Valentina doesn't willing shackle herself to Baba Yaga's whipping post.
Other then the film itself, which looks gorgeous, there is an interview with director Corrado Farina and a documentary on Guido Crepax's comic strips. There are also about ten minutes of deleted scenes.
This is a hard film to recommend because about 1/2 of the people you would expect to enjoy it will end up hating it and wonder what kind of person you mistake them for. And about 1/3 of the people you would expect to loathe it will claim it's their favorite Italian film of all time.
I'm the type of person who thinks this movie will grow on him over time and after repeated viewings but right now I can only give it three stars, though the DVD is definitely a five-star effort.
If money is tight, rent before you buy. But if you're an Italio-phile, you're going to end up buying it at some point anyway so you might as well just make it your next impulse buy.
Before I watched Corrado Farina's 1973 film, the only place I ever heard the name "Baba Yaga" before was on an Emerson, Lake, and Palmer album. Between the two, Farina's film and the ELP album, the latter made a lot more sense than the former. I love Eurohorror flicks, and will watch almost anything carrying that falls under that category, but "Baba Yaga" ranks as one of the most confusing films I have ever seen in ANY genre. That's saying something. Perhaps the best place to start is by defining what a Baba Yaga is. Well, according to what I found on a lengthy (two minutes, max) research excursion on the Internet, Baba Yaga is a witch in Russian folklore. She has a long nose, has two sisters also named Baba Yaga in order to confuse the unwary, and lives in a hut that can move around on chicken legs. She relies on three horseman and three strange pairs of disembodied hands to assist her in accomplishing her arcane goals. Scary, isn't it? Don't worry, though, since you won't see anything remotely resembling a hut on chicken legs, floating pairs of hands, long noses, or horsemen anywhere in this film. "Baba Yaga" is strictly low budget horror incapable of presenting anything as involved as the abovementioned fantastic features.
Instead, Farina's film is a cinematic adaptation of a comic strip created by Guido Crepax. Who is Guido Crepax? Good question. I never heard of him before watching this film, and haven't heard of him since. I'm sure there are plenty of comic book fans out there familiar with this bloke's name, but I'm not a comic book fan, having given up on that hobby decades ago. Anyway, what you have in the film is a beautiful fashion photographer named Valentina (played by French babe Isabelle De Funes), her beefy lover Arno Treves (George Eastman of "Anthropophagous" fame!), and the enigmatic Baba Yaga (Carroll Baker). Set in Milan, nothing much happens until Valentina runs into Baker's character late one night in an abandoned square. The two strike up a weird connection that begins when Baba Yaga takes one of Valentina's garters with her, claiming that she needs a personal item for unspecified reasons. Hmmm. Immediately after meeting this odd character, the photographer starts having weird dreams, dreams involving German soldiers from the First and Second World Wars. It isn't too long before Baba Yaga shows up at Valentina's apartment looking as weird as ever. Before leaving, the woman lovingly strokes the photographer's camera in a way that let's us know we should keep an eye on that object later on. Then the picture gets really bizarre.
Valentina goes to Baba Yaga's house, a rather gloomy and decrepit place full of junk, dolls, and a huge hole in the floor that seems to have no bottom. Before departing, Baker's character gives Valentina a miniature doll dressed up in S&M attire. Again, we know this doll will play a part in some as of yet unspecified shenanigans. The dreams continue unabated and, in fact, become even weirder. And that camera starts to assume malevolent dimensions as anyone Valentina photographs with it either drops dead or suffers some sort of illness. The doll, too, jumps into the action by suddenly coming to life and strutting around. Or does any of this happen? Perhaps everything is a dream from the time Valentina meets Baba Yaga onward. Eventually, Arno and Valentina launch an investigation into this mysterious woman and her creepy house, an investigation that leads to more questions than answers for both the characters and the audience. Despite the noggin' scratching plot, "Baba Yaga" is an entertaining film if for no other reason than the characters and Farina's ultra stylistic cinematography. Besides, who said this movie has to make sense? This is Eurohorror! When has anything from Europe EVER made sense over here, especially their horror films?
The best element in this movie is the atmosphere. I always think of Milan and most other places in Italy as sun drenched and beautiful. Not here. A lot of the action takes place outside at night, in streets and squares draped in deep, claustrophobic shadows. Even the daytime action seems to have a closed in feel to it. Too, the characters are interesting even if their actions and dialogue make little sense. Isabelle De Funes is gorgeous, hilarious coif aside, and does an acceptable job looking surprised and increasingly alarmed at the insanity unfolding around her. Love those doe eyes! Baker, on the other hand, is often hidden under mounds of dark clothes and a hat that would make a nineteenth century madam proud. Only in one of the deleted scenes included as an extra on the disc does Baker emerge in a way sure to grab your attention. I was impressed with George Eastman's performance; he does a good job playing an antiestablishment industrial filmmaker in love with Valentina. I've only seen Eastman in such schlock classics as "Anthropophagous" and "2019: The Fall of New York." Compared to those films, he could hardly do anything here but succeed in his role.
We get a bunch of extras on this Blue Underground disc. You get nearly ten minutes of deleted scenes that, if they had appeared in the film, would have made "Baba Yaga" even more incomprehensible. There's also a lengthy interview with director Corrado Farina about problems he had with casting, censorship, and distribution of the film. Rounding out the DVD is a short documentary on Guido Crepax and Freudian symbolism in his cartoons, poster and gallery stills, and a trailer that also fails to explain exactly what this film is about. I recommend "Baba Yaga" only to Eurohorror fans, and only experienced Eurohorror viewers at that.
on December 21, 2005
This is not your typical horror movie by any stretch of the imagination. It is more likely to appeal to fans of Fellini's more extravagant works, of Antonioni or Nic Roeg. Plot involves a stylish young fashion photographer who attracts the attention of a creepily stylish witch (Carroll Baker looking like a beautiful reanimated corpse). Yes, the key word is STYLE. Director Corrado Farina is a director of the first order. His camera savors every image, intercut in a myriad of textures to create a fluid montage of erotic and disturbing imagery. Horror fans might find this an interesting curiosity but film lovers should appreciate it on a much higher level. Like Donald Cammell-Nic Roeg's "Performance" this film exploits the nature of cinema masterfully, transcending its purported genre. Its use of solarized desaturated stills predates the famous "Aha" video by two decades, and much more artfully. Farina sensuously assaults you with his imagery, moving from pop to Goth to pure art in the wink of an eye. If any of this sounds even vaguely tempting, dig up a copy and treat yourself to a slice of cinematic heaven. Sadly, like the equally brilliant and iconoclastic Donald Cammell, Farina seems to have been grossly under-appreciated in his time, yielding only a few films as his legacy.
on June 25, 2012
What a title, "Baba Gaga." I had to purchase it through Amazon. Carroll Baker starred in "Baby Doll," "Giant," and numerous other films. This was a different film for her. The Italian director on the additional part of the DVD, stated she wasn't the first choice for this film. She was too Americanized in looks for the lead part.
It isn't a B film by any manner. Yes, the theme is somewhat familiar, but it comes across as good entertainment. The film never exhibited in the states, and this is a rare DVD, but one for collectors. A good DVD transfer too. It wasn't a Box-Office smash in Italy either because the distributor was going into bankruptcy. It has now become a cult film and one that can be enjoyed by many who can be entertained by a low budget film that featured Carroll. When I saw the film, I thought she was broke, from the way she had aged and was surprised to learn make-up purposely made her look that way for the film.
Italian horror movies invariably seem to have a special look, sound, and feeling of baroque creepiness that make them successful. I'm not so sure that Kiss Me, Kill Me (aka Baba Yaga, aka The Devil Witch aka Black Magic) is really that great of a movie, but its dark atmosphere makes it satisfyingly effective. Based to some degree on a dark comic strip, the movie's noticeably surreal quality is greatly enhanced by a haunting musical score as well as the use of grainy black and white pictures of events unfolding at certain critical times. Isabelle De Funes plays Valentina Rosselli, a photographer living in Milan. On her way home one night, she encounters a very strange lady who calls herself Baba Yaga (played by Carroll Baker). This stranger tells Valentina their meeting was predestined, and she quickly insinuates herself into the life of our protagonist. Baba Yaga, we quickly learn, is some type of witch, and she certainly looks the part in costume as well as appearance; her pasty complexion and almost-white eyebrows standing out in contrast to her red lipstick-coated mouth does make quite an impression. Valentina tries to go about her work, which involves photographing semi-nude women, but Baba Yaga gradually puts her under her spell. She has strange dreams; quite unusual things begin to happen when she takes pictures with a camera that Baba Yaga has fondled; a strange doll Baba Yaga gives her begins to seem like something more than a normal doll. The tension and suspense is carried along quite nicely throughout, but the conclusion falls a little short of making this film an unqualified success.
This is a movie best suited for adults because it does contain a fair bit of nudity, but the sex, violence, and gore is actually rather limited. Gory and erotic are not words I would use to characterize this film at all. In fact, there is essentially no blood to speak of, and the one scene of violence is not as extreme as it might first appear. Kiss Me, Kill Me generates its horror from the atmosphere it creates, and in this endeavor it is largely successful. In one very nice scene, Valentina watches an old silent movie about a golem, but the golem connection to the doll Valentina is given may be lost on some viewers lacking a foundation in old-fashioned horror. Still, though, the doll in and of itself is creepy enough to be effective. If you don't have an interest in horror at all, there is a good chance you won't enjoy Kiss Me, Kill Me. For horror aficionados, the movie stands ready to help meet your daily requirement of creepiness, but your rations of blood and gore must be obtained elsewhere.
on February 23, 2015
I'm a fan of Caroll Baker and this is a really bizarre B-movie of hers. She plays a ghostly witch, very mysterious. The story is somewhat surprising, very campy, and the art direction is beautiful. Don't expect quality acting or seamless writing; this is something to watch for the visuals and the camp-factor.
Valentina, a beautiful fashion photographer, is haunted by a strange woman. The woman turns out to be a witch named Baba Yaga (Carrol Baker), with kinky intentions for our heroine. Valentina ends up at Baba Yaga's spooky house, which is complete with both stuffed and caged animals, a bottomless pit in the livingroom, and a dungeon / bedroom full of heavy play toys. Yaga puts a curse on Valentina's camera and gives her a doll in full S&M gear. From that point on, whoever Valentina takes pictures of falls over dead. You see, the doll can become a full grown woman with a nine inch hairpin for killing people! Yaga continues her supernatural stalking by casting runes and phone harassment, while Valentina keeps right on taking pictures of soon-to-be corpses. Yep, this is pretty freaky stuff. It all ends in a final showdown at Baba Yaga's pad where it's Yaga and her living leather-doll vs. Valentina and her boyfriend. BABA YAGA is not entirely my cup of hemlock. I prefer straight horror. However, there were enough creepy elements to keep my interest...
on March 2, 2014
This is not a sex film. It is an Italian horror film. There is some nudity and the actors were defiantly pleasant to look at. As for the subject matter and the quality of the film it was OK for a 70's or 80's something film. The acting was reasonable but the filming and sound quality was sub standard. All in all it was an interesting movie with good actress, Carroll Baker, and several new comers that were primarily Italian actors. The dubbing into English was OK. Carroll Baker, who moved to Italy and made a number of films there after her fall out with Paramount, Is fluent in Italian. She did an admirable job and convincing in her roll. But this film suffers the same problems as with all films that are over 10 years old. It was too provincial, and the quality of the filming is suspect. It is OK if you have nothing else to do.
on March 30, 2005
If you just wanna see a pretty cool little flick, then I recommend this movie. If you get this movie expecting to see a horror flick, then you will be disappointed. This movie is just plain hip. The acting in the film is pretty good, as well. And of course, this Euro-flick delivers a good bit of nudity for all you spankers out there.
The movie is based on an old Italian comic book about a photographer who has a weird spell put on her by a woman named Baba Yaga, a sort of voodoo gypsy. It's not much more than that, but it's still pretty hip by today's standards. The DVD offers a good bit of extras, too. Recommended.