Baba Yaga (film, 2009)

A review of the DVD of Baba Yaga, from Death Ray #19.

1973/18/91 mins


Director: Corrado Farina

Writer: Corrado Farina, based on the comics by Guido Crepax

Starring: Isabelle De Funes, Carroll Baker, George Eastman, Ely Galleani

Almost arty Eurotrash. Artistically experimental, narratively incoherent, high nipple count.

The Italian Guido Crepax was your typical euro-comic artist, not a superhero in sight, but plenty of flesh. His heroine Valentina was the star of many a surreal erotic adventure. Psychedelic, very sixties, from a time when people had more time to sit around being cool and shag. Baba Yaga is director Corrado Farina’s not quite successful attempt to bring Crepax’s work to the big screen.

In this film, Valentina is a photographer who attracts the attention of an old witch, Baba Yaga. She attempts to seduce our young heroine through black magic, mind control, and a bit of light bondage. It meanders terribly, and only occasionally attains the erotic charge it strives so hard for. In the context of its day some of the camera work was probably quite bold, as was its mix of stills with live footage and in its limited oevre of erotically menaced eurototty it stands proud. It’s much better than the strangely lauded efforts of Jess Franco, though we still have to put up with bad wigs, skrikey pre-stereo sound, naive politics and other limitations of the time.

It’s a shame people don’t make films like this for the modern gentleman. Hollywood’s aversion to the act of love on screen, the advent of hard video porn and now, lately, the internet, have trammelled the growth of genuinely well-made erotic cinema. And perhaps therein lies another problem for Baba Yaga, as a guilty pleasure it is not quite guilty enough.

Extras: A documentary on comics by director Corrado (in Italian) a good interview with him, trailers and a stills gallery. The cut of the film includes some footage restored for the first time since its release.


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