Comics and the Expressionist Eurotrash Witch Film ‘Baba Yaga’

March 16, 2012

I recently wrote about the 1970′s fumetti adaptation Baba Yaga for FEARnet. It’s a remake of Guido Crepax’s erotic, phantasmagorical tale Valentina. The screen version opens with an illustrated credits sequence, which I’ve pasted in the gallery below. (These shots aren’t from the new Blu-ray, which is available here if interested.) If Bernie Krigstein and Aubrey Beardsley made babies, it might look something like this.

The fumetti during the ’60s and ’70s were in many ways ahead of their time, exploring sexuality — and even a few political themes — while experimenting with narrative structure and style. Baba Yaga’s opening sequence was definitely unusual for the time period and is still a great standout today. Also of note is the animated sex scene, which employs early animation techniques, intercut with live action — and a creepily leering George Eastman. I shared the scene in the video below along with the trailer.

Audiences were treated to two other memorable cine-fumetti tales just years before Baba Yaga, which director Corrado Farina has cited as influencesRoger Vadim’s Barbarella seemed tame to those familiar with the comic, and Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik is far more fun and sophisticated. Farina’s witchy remake isn’t the sleaziest film you’ll ever see, but it’s fleshy and enigmatic enough to appease fans of the books.

From FEARnet:

“Adapted from Guido Crepax’ erotic comic (fumetti, as the Italians would say) series Valentina comes Corrado Farina’s 1973 fever dream, Baba Yaga. Clearly influenced by the gialli, the lesbian Eurotrash cult flick stars Carroll Baker (Baby Doll) as a ghostly witch who controls a free-spirited photographer with sapphic mind powers, a hexed camera, an unnerving doll decked out in a sadomasochistic body harness, and surreal Nazi-era flashbacks. George Eastman also appears for that added touch of smarmy boyfriend sleaze. Baker’s Baba Yaga — named after a witch-like figure that originates from Slavic folklore — is an over the top character who suckles garter belts like candy and commands her erotic slaves from a decadent, but crumbling, mansion.”

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