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Harrowing Inquisition Re-enactment!
on October 18, 2013
For any folks out there who might have wished that the (typically) brief flashes of inquisitional torture often shown in films depicting medieval witch trial scenarios (such as "Mark of the Devil"- Stuart Gordon's "Pit and the Pendulum"-"Goya's Ghosts"- etc.) were longer (and stronger!) ... THIS film is 4 U!
Purportedly based on real witch trial testimonies in South America, back in the day when the Catholic Church was 'doing its' worst' to the females of the realm via trumped up trials for heresy & witchcraft - this 'film' focuses on a particularly sleazy bit of inheritance grabbing by the local clergy. A recently 'orphaned' young 'heiress' and her female friend are accused by greedy church officials of consorting with the devil and other heretical mis-deeds, and both are 'put to the question' as the torturous interrogations were euphemistically referred to back then.
The director wastes little time in getting the 2 attractive girls into the dungeon and out of their clothes and pretty much the whole 100 min run time of the film is devoted to chronicling the various torments their naked bodies are subjected to in an effort to get them to 'confess', and sign their property over to the Church. The director adopts a bit of a documentary style by interposing quick cuts of various individuals giving 'statements' to the inquisitors about the women 'on trial' but the focus always shifts immediately back to the action in the dungeon so that the basic element of continuity IS the torture. In that regard many of the basic persuasive 'methods' are covered - flogging, branding, stretching, pricking, and 'the Spanish Horse' all get ample screen time.
The production values for the film are fairly decent with some atmospheric location shots in real historic buildings, but there is a bit of an amateurish quality about the whole affair. The two principal actresses do a good job, though, of suffering and screaming right up to the climactic burning at the stake scene. What makes all the nudity & torture somewhat less 'gratuitous' is, of course, the factual historic context and comment upon the corruption of the Church. In focusing so intensely and lingeringly on the abuse of the 2 naked girls this film walks a fine line between being offensively sexploitational and/or historically relevant. It is to the director's credit that he manages to use the excessive violence and nudity to lend a sense of poignancy and pathos to the proceedings that reinforces the underlying theme of the repugnant abuses against humanity that were carried out, in the name of religion, throughout much of the European world at that point in time.
By its' very nature and topic this is a pretty harsh viewing experience and adults only fare. Full female nudity & graphic brutality abounds but nothing 'pornographic'. Regardless, it certainly gives one their monies worth on the medieval torture front. The film itself is widescreen format in super sharp digital quality - the extras on the disk are sorta 'hidden' in the Espanol 'language option' of the start-up menu (included are some 'out-takes' from the movie and a 'commentary' track w/ the film's director and 'star' Amy Hasketh) - Spanish language w/ English subtitles. For what it is - I thot it was well done and would recommend it to those who may enjoy such topics.