Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 19th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1973
Director: Renato Polselli
Writer: Renato Polselli
Cast: Mickey Hargitay, Rita Calderoni, Raul Lovecchio, Christa Barrymore, Consolata Moschera, William Darni, Max Dorian, Marcello Bonini Olas, Cristina Perrier, Stefania Fassio, Gabriele Bentivoglio, Vittorio Fanfoni, Anna Ardizzone, Marisa Indice, Dunca Balsor, Tano Cimarosa, Carmen Young
DVD released: September 30th, 2008
Approximate running time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: Redemption Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: A satanic cult tries to resurrect a witch who was burned at the stake four hundred years before.
Black Magic Rites has been released under alternative titles like The Reincarnation of Isabel. The films literal English language is Rites, Black Magic and Secret Orgies in the Fourteenth Century. Black Magic Rites was written and directed by Renato Polselli who’s other notable films include The Vampire and the Ballerina and Delirium.
The plot for Black Magic Rites juxtapositions present day with events that happened four hundred years before. Each character that exists during present day has a descendant who helped burn a witch named Isabella at the stake four hundred years before. Black Magic Rites is more of a visual experience with the sparse dialog filling in the essentials of the story. The plot and characters are simple and not fully fleshed out. Renato Polselli manages to create many exciting moments visually while the story almost feels as an afterthought on the director’s part. The black magic scenes of women being sacrificed is where the film is at its strength while scenes like the humorous three way falls flat.
The film’s two leads Mickey Hargitay and Rita Calderoni had previous worked together in Renato Polselli’s Delirium. Mickey Hargitay once again play’s an intense character while Rita Calderoni is underused despite playing the dual role of Isabella and Laureen. One positive’s about Rita Calderoni’s performance is that she spends an ample amount of time in various stages of undress. Black Magic Rites features a groovy score that was composed by Romolo Forlai and Gianfranco Reverberi who composed Renato Polselli’s Delirium. Ultimately Black Magic Rites is an entertaining mix of sleaze, sadism and mayhem.
Ten years ago Black Magic Rites was originally released in region 1 by Redemption films under the title The Reincarnation of Isabel. There are some differences between this previous transfer and Redemptions new release of Black Magic Rites. The previous release was presented in a letterboxed widescreen that framed the image at a ratio of about 1.66:1 and it was also flagged for progressive playback. This new release is an anamorphic presentation that frames the image at a ratio of about 1.78:1 and unlike the previous DVD release this new release is interlaced. Framing wise the differences are minimal with the previous release offering just slightly more picture information. The differences are not drastic enough that they severely alter any shot. The new release looks colorful and details look sharp throughout. There is some instances of print damage in the form of specs and this was also present on the previous transfer. Even though the transfer is interlaced the image remains stable throughout with no blurring or ghosting issues. This new release appears to be a PAL to NTSC conversion with the time length coming in at 93:52 while the previous DVD release from Redemption clocks in at about 97:47. Both releases are completely uncut.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian and removable English subtitles have been included. The audio sounds muffled in a few scenes. Overall the audio is more than adequate presentation considering the films mono limitations and age.
All the extras related to the main feature have been carried over from the previous DVD released. Extras for this new DVD release include the film’s original Italian language trailer with no English subtitles and a brief photo gallery. The film’s original Italian poster art can be found when you click on the subtitles icon to activate them. Overall Redemption Films re-release of Black Magic Rites gives fans of this film who missed out on the previous release a chance to buy the film at a reasonable price.
1998 Region 1DVD
2008 Region 1DVD
1998 Region 1DVD
2008 Region 1DVD