Color, 2008, 81m.
Directed by Gianni Virgadaula
Starring Cinzia Susino, Tanino Golino, Emanuele Giammusso, Denise Uccello, Giuliana Accolla
One 7 Movies (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
Far closer to Guy Maddin than Mario Bava, this Italian horror homage to classic silent horror cinema is an insanely self-important but enjoyable slice of gothic fan art that opens with one of the most ridiculous text intros in film history: "...Timeless shadouus... the slowness of light... silence is the origin of nothing... Frames from old times... art as cinema... cinema as silence... May silence stay still... may cinema remain art... May wars not have been battled in vain... World crisis, alterned editing films as alternate is the long era which will eventually narrate itself... silent films... the original Silent films' last years... the director of silence... Art's stillness... silent films were a long indefinite instant of poetry..." [Sic for all of that.]
Our tale takes place in the 1920s in a cursed area of countryside called the Quarter of Tower of Wolves, which earned its name because it was infested "by greedy wolves who have been terrifying farmes and sheperds." [Sic again.] However, local legend has it that a vampire is actually responsible for all the local bloodshed and occasionally rises from its crypt to prey on the living. Upon the land is the castle of the aristocratic von Reder family, who is celebrating the marriage of the Baron (Golinio) to young, raven-haired Lusilla (Susino). However, tragedy strikes when Lusilla collapses during the celebration and cannot be cured by the local "leading light for medicine," Professor Ugo Kier (yes, really). A mysterious ailment soon claims her life, and rumors abound that she was possessed by an evil force. Soon a woman who looks exactly like her shows up at the castle, bringing with her death, destruction, and a force defined as "a vampire goddess of Mesopotamian origins yet konwn [yep, sic] in Jewish and Christian areas."
Originally entitled Lèmuri, il bacio di Lilith, this film started off as a 17-minute short film but was soon expanded into a feature complete with additional supporting characters and an extended flashback showing the gruesome history of the title character. The command of the English language for the intertitles is obviously very, very shaky, which will either be frustrating or entertaining depending on your mood. On the positive side, the film has a compelling look that admirably mimics the textures and ambiance of European silent horror, particularly the Lilith flashback complete with a burning at the stake. A pretty admirable shot overall, and it would be interesting to see what director Gianni Virgadaula could pull off with a bigger budget and a more careful proofreader.
One 7 Movies brings this very obscure film (which doesn't even have an IMDb entry) to US DVD with an anamorphic transfer as good as you'd expect for a title of this relatively recent vintage. The film alternates between monochrome and color tinting, with both looking quite nice. The two-channel stereo soundtrack is devoted entirely to the music score, which features both real instruments and synths to create an appropriately creepy soundscape. Extras include a theatrical trailer and a small gallery of photos.