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Baba Yaga: The Final Cut 
Written by: on April 20th, 2010

Theatrical Release Date:
Italy, September 20th, 1973
Director: Corrado Farina
Writers: Guido Crepax (comics), Corrado Farina (screenplay), François de Lannurien (additional dialogue)
Cast: Isabelle De Funès, Carroll Baker, George Eastman, Ely Galleani.

DVD released:
April 27th, 2009
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Shameless Films
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £12.99

After attending a right-on anti-capitalist political happening, hippy girl photographer Valentina (Isabelle De Funès) is stumbling home in her heels and saves a puppy from getting run over by a rich bitch in a big shiny car. The improbably monikered Baba Yaga (Carroll Baker) is the driver and she offers Valentina a ride home before inappropriately swiping a garter clip from Val and letting her know she’ll be seeing her again, the sly old cougar!

After a restless night plagued by dreams of Nazi’s marching her in her undies to the tip of an abyss it’s time for Val to get up, stretch and get to work. ‘Work’ being snapping pics of scantily clad models in various historical, but mostly topless, costumes it seems. Before long Baba’s gate-crashing the photo session and fondling Val’s camera while mumbling some nonsense about “the eye that freezes reality” and generally being not very subtly sapphic. Val’s not interested however, preferring the hairy delights of her young-Hector-Elizondo-lookalike hippy filmmaker boyfriend. In revenge it turns out Baba’s put some kind of voodoo whammy on the camera because now when Val uses it odd things happen; an Arriflex jams, a topless model falls to the ground, a hippy dies (woohoo!), etc.

Not all that quick to catch-on Val decides to pay Baba a visit at her dusty mansion. Coming on like a one woman Grey Gardens, Baba’s living space is a bit decrepit to say the least. Let’s ignore for a moment the freaky bottomless pit under her rug and concentrate instead on her soundproofed basement featuring an S&M clad doll called Annette that bears an uncanny resemblance to Leelee Sobieski (fuck me that’s creepy). Run Val, run now! Or yeah put on that black glove and flick your bean then accept the doll as a gift and promise to visit again, OK!? Things get progressively weirder for our heroine from here on in via yet more surreal dreams (look out for the thigh stroking Rocky boxing sequence), Annette comes to life and administers a kinky whipping to Val and things eventually culminate in a witch vs hippy face-off in the old mansion.

Apparently it’s all based on an adult comic book, ah well that explains everything. It’s an oddball, bizarre, dreamy mix of thriller and eroticism that is fairly enjoyable as long as you don’t ask too much of it – comprehensible plot be damned! It’s all about style, atmosphere and subtextual 70’s italian counter-culture. The score unfortunately veers from lounge pianist to 70’s jazz-lite.

The DVD:

Another ‘Shameless Fan Edition’ here; director Corrado Farina has re-inserted previously cut footage in an attempt to create the most complete version of the film he intended. These inserts are painfully obvious in that they are of very poor quality and often have only Italian audio and English subs. Most of these inserts are very short snippets, some moments of full frontal nudity, an added dream sequence and a new prologue at the start of the film. Overall however the quality of the feature is very good (in contrast and sharpness) presented in 1.85:1, anamorphically enhanced.

Audio is mono, with the English track sounding a bit more solid than the Italian (which has a bit of echo). The English subtitles (to be viewed with the Italian dialogue obviously) differ from the English dub rather comically in quite a few instances, for example the scene in which Val jokingly tells her pal that she was “Sent to prison and raped by a dwarf” (that’s on the English dub and it’s what she actually says in Italian) is translated in the subtitles as “Sent to prison and raped by a thief”! I’ll leave you to spot the rest yourself.

Extras; Text commentary by The Wilson Brothers in which quite interesting information about the production is imparted alongside jokey comments about the film. A 20 minute interview with director Corrado Farina in which he candidly discusses all aspects of the film and generally comes across as a very nice bloke indeed. Two 12 minute short films by Corrado Farina ‘Freud & Fumetti’ and ‘Fumettophobia’ both about Italian comic books and Guido Crepax (creator of Baba Yaga). Also included are an original theatrical trailer and an image gallery (I do like looking at the old VHS covers). Oh and a brief intro to the film by Farina.

When people talk about euro-trash flicks this is what they mean – you have been warned!

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