Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 28th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1972
Director: Riccardo Freda
Writers: Mario Bianchi, José Gutiérrez Maesso, Leonardo Martín
Cast: Camille Keaton, Tony Isbert, Máximo Valverde, Luigi Pistilli, Luciana Paluzzi, José Calvo, Giovanni Petrucci, Irina Demick, Paul Muller, Beni Deus, Milo Quesada, Alejandro de Enciso, Elsa Zabala, Pablo García, David Thomson, Adriana Facchetti, Fulvio Mingozzi
DVD Released: January 29th, 2008
Approximate Running Time: 87 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
Synopsis: A young woman and her friends become entangled with a satanic cult. When they interrupt their ceremony.
Tragic Ceremony was directed by Riccardo Freda, a Italian filmmaker who is most known for his gothic horror films like The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock and The Ghost. The screenplay for Tragic Ceremony was co-written by Mario Bianchi (Satan’s Baby Doll). The cinematographer on Tragic Ceremony was Francisco Fraile, who’s other notable credits include Dr Jekyll Verses the Wolfman, Clockwork Terror and Ricco the Mean Machine. The score for Tragic Ceremony was composed by Stelvio Cipriani, who’s other notable scores include The Frightened Woman, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Death Walks in High Heels, Rabid Dogs and What Have They Done to Your Daughters?
There are slow films and then there are tedious films. Case in point Tragic Ceremony which falls into the latter category. Tragic Ceremony is the type of film that takes forever to establish where it wants to go and by the time it makes up its mind. It is too little too, late when things almost start to gel. Besides pacing issues, another troubled area is the film’s opening act which revolves around four hippie friends. The majority of this opening set up is spent following around the four friends doing the most mundane activities. Thankfully things get slightly better once night falls and the four friends find themselves seeking refugee. After their car just happens to run out of gas in front of a wealthy couples mansion. They wealthy couple invite them to stay the night. Things take turn for the weird when they three male friends go searching for their female friend. They find her laying out on a slab as satanic cult members get ready to sacrifice her. And just when you thought things could not get any weirder, they do. From here the film hits its stride with the latter half of the film doing a good job establishing and maintaining an eerie atmosphere.
The one area where this films excels the most is its cinematography. With the stand out moments visually being the Satanic ritual scene and the film’s finale. Performance wise the majority of the cast are at best adequate in their respective roles. The film’s protagonist Jane is portrayed by Camille Keaton, who gives a performance that at times is reminiscent to her performance from What Have They Done to Solange? The film’s stand out performance comes from Luciana Paluzzi (The Green Slime). She has been cast in the role of Lady Alexander, the ring leader of the satanic cult. This film’s crude looking special effects were created by three time Oscar winner Carlo Rambaldi (E.T. the Extra- Terrestrial). Reportedly Riccardo Freda was so unhappy with the final product that he latter disowned it. And while there is no denying that this film has a multitude of problems. There is also an oddly endearing quality to the story at hand.
Dark Sky Films presents Tragic Ceremony in an anamorphic widescreen that retains the films original aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. The source used for this transfer is in very good shape. Colors and flesh tones look consistent. Black levels fare well and details generally look crisp. There are no problems with compression and edge enhancement is kept in check. It should be noted that the opening credits and closing credits look rougher than the rest of the transfer.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian. Background noise is minimal, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.
Extras include a trailer for the film (3 minutes 33 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and a interview with actress Camille Keaton titled ‘Camille’s European Adventures’ (13 minutes 10 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). The interview with Camille Keaton is a excellent retrospective of the European films that she appeared in. There is even a brief mention of her most famous film I Spit on Your Grave. Overall Tragic Ceremony gets a solid DVD release from Dark Sky Films.