Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Candle for the Devil (1973)

Things I learned: British people are Europe's whoriest whores and Spaniards are pretty much the continent's Amish.  Sisters Marta (Aurora Bautista) and Veronica (Esperanza Roy) run an inn which somehow seems to attracts hussies intent on parading around half-naked.  This especially sets off Marta, who has a really weird religious/destiny fixation on her duties as an innkeeper.  She's a good innkeeper, but a great murderess, as we learn after she accidentally kills a sunbather.

After that, it's kill time all the time, as new sluts are trucked into town to flaunt their goods and then die.  The sister of the original murder victim (Judy Geeson) shows up and starts snooping around, too.  A Candle for the Devil is uniquely female-centric for a 70s genre outing.  The relationship between the two psycho sisters gets a lot of screen time, as does the slow progress of Geeson's detective work.  Seriously, I'll bet this is Alison Bechdel's favorite film of all time.

I loved the way the film interweaves the sisters' sexuality into the mix.  Veronica is having a thing with the inn's handyman, which leads to tense moments between the sisters and also to some excellent Esperanza Roy full frontal nudity.  I love this also.

Shockingly enough, Marta, too, gets some sexy time in a few spots.  In one incredible scene, she peeps at some boy skinnydippers and their very unimpressive penises, then chastises herself for it by wading through a field of sharp reeds.  There's some real fire/water imagery battles happening here.  Plus the movie gives her these poignant dress-up scenes in which she pines for lost love.

Roy and Bautista are superb and I really need to check out more of their work.  You could cite flaws in the film pretty easily—it sometimes has the languid pace of early seventies stuff, and it sometimes gets repetitions with all the hussies arriving and dying.  But I still enjoyed this a whole lot and was pleased to finally find a hidden gem in this month's movie binge.

This won't be to all tastes, but those with good taste will definitely appreciate it.


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