Monday, February 11, 2008


Imagine if ROSEMARY'S BABY was directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini instead of Roman Polanski - that's what BLACK CANDLES (1982) feels like to me. Of course this grindhouse classic is a couple dozen notches below anything that Polanski or Pasolini made on the quality scale. José Ramón Larraz managed to make both a sex film that isn't sexy and a horror film that isn't scary.

It all starts with a girl in a striped sweater walking through a field with some guy watching her. Then there's a framed photo of a woman who looks like Dorian Lord from ONE LIFE TO LIVE hanging in a room where an unattractive man and woman lie naked. They soon begin getting it on. The guys looks at her necklace and declares it "the devil's paw" while someone (Dorian?) pokes needles into a voodoo doll. Then the guy has a heart attack and dies. Oh well.

After some groovy, opening titles we're at an airport where a badly-dubbed couple announce that they are visiting England for a few days. Greeting them at the luggage claim is Fiona (formerly known as Dorian). As she drives the couple to their destination, Fiona grills them about their visit. The woman, Carol is already bored with the film and falls asleep. Spiteful Fiona then lights a cigarette to give her second-hand lung cancer.

They arrive at a Tudor-style manor during a blackout. Apparently Fiona hasn't been paying the electric bills - but she has plenty of BLACK CANDLES to light in case of emergency. Carol doesn't score any points with Fiona when she calls her candles "dreadful". Then Fiona rattles off all the booze she has to offer and tells Carol that she looks like her brother. Ah - the naked dead guy from before the titles! Carol's husband takes notice of the spooky lithographs that adorn the walls of Fiona's house while she tells them all about demonology. Like, who asked?

Carol tells her man (Robert) that she doesn't trust Fiona and her BLACK CANDLES. Then she strips down to her sexy underwear - followed by her bra. This is when I realize that this is a dirty, dirty movie. Robert soon mounts Carol as Fiona watches through a peephole. Robert plays with Carol's unmanicured Euro-bush and nibbles on her nipples while Fiona licks her lips on the other side of the wall. Fiona then takes out ONE of her breasts and masturbates, climaxing just as Carol does. Very good timing, ladies.

After the sex, Carol and Rob pull a DICK VAN DYKE and sleep in separate twin beds. Carol dreams about the ugly lithographs and walking around the garden in her undies and high heels. Then (still dreaming) she fucks her brother Drew! All while Fiona is banging on the bedroom door. Then the two women kiss and Carol wakes up. Of course then she kisses her brother's photo, but is startled by a bearded man's face in the window. Finally, something scary!!!

Carol then goes downstairs to the kitchen with the most atrocious wallpaper ever and meets the bearded man - he's a priest who looks like Robin Williams in Robert Goulet drag.

Later the ladies go to visit Drew's grave - which looks like it's 1000 years old. Fr. Robin Goulet watches through binoculars. The plot thickens! Meanwhile, some fatso who looks like the Dunkin' Donuts guy is calling a woman a whore and a witch. Huh?

Fiona serves Carol a herbal drink from an awesome-looking drink holder. Then Carol whispers something stupid about Drew writing to tell her that he was unhappy and afraid - even his handwriting was different! This is when I realized that the voices of both Carol and Fiona were dubbed by the same actress! Meanwhile, a woman milks a goat. Huh?

Then we see another woman performing fellatio on "the devil's paw" necklace - she is soon getting a nude rubdown from a woman who looks like Penny Marshall. Suddenly there is a entire coven of freaks around her, chanting and the fore-mentioned goat is forced to mount her...and the goat fucks her!!! She even nibbles on it's ears!!! Holy shit!

Meanwhile, Carol lays on her bed naked. The next few scenes were so boring that I snoozed off a few times.
I remember Carol going to visit her brother's lawyer...a tour of Fiona's herb collection...the brief history of Satanism...followed by Robert performing cunnilingus on Fiona - and then fucking her in "The Reverse Cowgirl" position" (see illustration).

Carol starts freaking out about a lost necklace. She tells Robert that she thinks witchcraft is to blame for all the strange happenings. Meanwhile, there is a secret meeting to discuss Carol and what should be done about her, basically "How do you solve a problem like Carol?" I think we learn here that Robert is an ex-priest!!! Next we hear some LOUD, windy electronic music. It's a black mass and a chalice of blood is poured on a naked woman. Before you know it, there's a lesbian orgy. Why not?

Next, Robert rapes Carol anally and then smokes a pipe. That's funny, Robert never rapes her anally and smokes a pipe at home.

The next day Carol notices a spot on the carpet. Black wax perhaps? Carol asks Fiona about the door to the basement and the circled date on the calendar. Fiona ignores her and pushes some more herbal tea on her and tells her that she wants her to meet "the group". I don't think she's talking about The Mamas and The Papas. At last - a dinner party scene. But things go terribly wrong when one of the guests presents "the devil's paw" which causes Carol to grasp her chest. After dinner, the Dunkin' Donuts guy returns - just in time to get anally violated with a sword!!! Ouch!

Meanwhile, Robert gets a blowjob from Fiona - then they do it "doggie style" (no illustration needed) and she smiles. Carol tells her husband that he's "become one of them!!!" Soon Carol is captured by Fiona's henchwomen who smack her around a bit. Fiona orders one to "fix up a potion" while the other one undresses her. Soon Carol is involved in a three-way with Robert and Rev. Robin Goulet! Um, check please.

So - where do we go from here? Right back to the beginning, as Fiona, Carol and Robert arrive at the house once more, just like at the start of the film. Was it all a dream? Was it all a fantasy? Was it a waste of time? You bet. I give this mess a 6 outta 10.

BLACK CANDLES is also known by it's original title: LOS RITOS SEXUALES DEL DIABLO (THE SEXUAL RITES OF THE DEVIL), but was released in the USA as both HOT FANTASIES or NAKED DREAMS. Huh????????

No comments: