Friday, April 18, 2014

"A Candle for the Devil" (1973) d/ Eugenio Martin

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Tonight's review, a solid little seventies-tastic genre effort from the director who brought you things like "Horror Express" (1972) and "Death at the Deep End of the Swimming Pool" (1971), explores the horrific end of the inevitable culture clash when conservative Spain meets swinging London. If you're envisioning lots of bare breasts and blood-splashy homicide, you're barking up the right tree. Martin dresses his moody gothic locale with lovelies of the day like Judy Geeson, Esperanza Roy, and even his wife, Lone Fleming,  no stranger to genre films herself, having appeared in two of  de Ossorio's Blind Dead pictures, among others.

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The sun burns through to the planet's core, but it wasn't enough, she wanted more.
Marta (Aurora Bautista) and Veronica (Esperanza Roy) are a pair of repressed, judgmental spinsters who run a bed and breakfast in a remote Spanish village that's a current stopover for tour buses packed with free-spirited horn-dawgs and morally reprehensible sluts from all over Europe. Despite the boost in business, this proves too troubling a predicament for the overzealous sisters to deal with rationally, as Marta takes it upon herself to chuck a topless British sunbather head first down a flight of stairs and into a stained glass window, killing her instantly. While Veronica panics, Marta takes an ornate chunk of bloody glass from the corpse's neck, citing the holy sword upon it as a sign from God / rallying cry for religious homicide. Makes sense. While V's skimming the till box for the virile young manservant she's been secretly breaking her bountiful bobblers out for, Marta's been spying on some prepubescent boys skinny-dipping in a nearby pond, their tiny jimmy's sending her into a shameful sexual fervor, which she sates by doing repeated fanatical laps through the thorny briar patch. When Laura (Judy Geeson) makes the scene, looking for her missing sister, things really start getting curious...

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"Is that a croqueta in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"
While the inquisitive Laura scores conservative points a plenty with the unhinged innkeepers thanks to her extravagantly busy bell bottoms, other less bashful tourists aren't so lucky. Helen's (Lone Fleming) propensity to traipse through the fountain in a skimpy top and hot pants and make mocking sexual advances to Marta while she's gussying herself up in the wedding dress she never got to wear ultimately gets her stabbed the eff up in the end, while a young single mother gets removed from the equation for having a child out of wedlock and lying about it to the sisters, even worse. When the latest of Laura's acquaintances mysteriously checks out without a word, she enlists the nearest thing to authority the village has, to investigate the disappearances. It doesn't help matters when one of the dinner guests at the Inn discovers a woman's eye, preserved in alcohol, on their plate. Oh, which of the basement vats holds the good wine again? Just as the sisters are about to add Laura to their list of victims, the curtain falls, revealing the maddening real life diorama to the townspeople and authorities who have gathered outside the window...

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"Unless Mil Mascaras books a room here, no one can stop us NOW!"
The lovely Geeson had a nice genre run at the outset of the seventies, appearing in Doomwatch (1972),  Fear in the Night (1972), and tonight's feature, before famously turning up in the schlocky Horror Planet/ Inseminoid (1981), while the late Aurora Bautista also appeared in 1969's La bambola di Satana. The busty Roy can also be seen in de Ossorio's El ataque de los muertos sin ojos/ Return of the Evil Dead, released the same year. You may have seen tonight's review under it's alternate title, "It Happened at Nightmare Inn", but since that cut of the film runs just over an hour and excises all the groovy bits of nudity and violence within, you're probably better off sticking with the uncut eighty-three minute print under the somewhat misleading "Candle" title, available on a region two dvd, from the folks over at Odeon. On the scale, Candle merits an impressive three Wops, and should be seen at all costs. Recommended.

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Well I've got to be forgiven if I wanna spend my livin' with a long, cool woman with a cloth gag...
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