Thursday, October 7, 2010

RING OF DARKNESS aka Satan's Wife

(Pier Carpi, 1979)
If Blue Sunshine is the answer to "whatever happened to all those acid heads from the 60's?" then Ring of Darkness must be the answer to "whatever happened to those who dabbled in Satanism around the same time?"
The prologue opens cheesily enough with a ritualistic mating dance to some seriously wonky Stelvio Cipriani groove. It seems Satan was a softy for red spandex and modern jazz in the late 70's, but I digress. We then cut to present day, where former coven members are struggling to live like ordinary citizens. We learn that in exchange for bearing the offspring of Satan, these women have forsaken all human warmth. Carlotta (Anne Heywood) grows alarmed when her daughter Daria (Lara Wendel) exhibits signs that she may be aware of her own diabolical origins and begins lashing out at home and at school.
Daria's evil powers begin to manifest when Agatha's (Marisa Mell) daughter kills herself, and Daria's stepfather is killed in a plane crash. The coven soon find themselves outgunned by Daria and resort to desperate measures to keep her in check, but to no avail. Having offended the daughter of Satan (and Satan himself), they all become targets of her wrath. Can Daria be stopped? Can they ever?
Fans of Italian horror will have divided opinions of Ring of Darkness. My main concern was with the lack of blood and lack of action. This film almost plays more as a Satanic melodrama than a horror film, as it's not frightening in the least. Were there any less excitement, the film could very well put itself to sleep!
It's more driven by story than most films in its league, and is mildly captivating in that it's not badly written, and is carried by (relatively) strong performances by Anne Heywood, Marisa Mell, Irene Papas, Lara Wendell, and John Phillip Law. Yes, there's lots of familiar faces here! Ring of Darkness also features outstanding lighting and photography, the aforementioned Cipriani synthesizer soundtrack, and oodles of atmosphere. And a final showdown, in the nude, between Carlotta and Daria. Does that sell you? It's available on DVD thanks to MYA again, so enjoy!
Buy it here.

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