Italian Cult Gothic Horror
Bartok Kinski | Prague | 05/21/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This somehow odd film from Italian Cult Gothic Horror director Freda ("Dr. Hichcock") is almost unknown. Made a year after his rough Giallo "L'Iguana Dalla Lingua di Fuoco" the title suggests yet another Giallo. But, in fact, this film is not a Giallo at all - but a Gothic horror story about a cursed pearl necklace and a strange Satan's Cult which gets confronted by a hippie quartet on a day out. The story sounds unique.
Made on a very low budget, Freda made more than the best out of it and created a strange movie with all the classic Gothic elements, and also boosts a handful of astonishing gore effects that echo the rude sequences of his Giallo a year before.
The cast is lead by Camille Keaton of "I Spit on Your Grave" fame, while Luigi Pistilli delivers another neat performance as the leader of the strange Cult. The soundtrack is composed by Stelvio Cipriani and is cool as usual. A film worth looking for despite its rarity."
Mr. Lars Helmstein | Paris - France | 07/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Tragic Ceremony" is a little known film by Riccardo Freda (the title doesn't even appear in recent filmographies of the director). This edition on DVD has allowed me to discover a genuine masterpiece of a great italian director."
The pearl necklace, a dune buggy & hippies. Enter: Tragic C
The Straw Man | Aloof October on April's Birthday | 08/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one interesting little piece of cinema. Made in 1972 (I believe) "Tragic Ceremony" is quite a disturbing film. The movie is about four young adults in the 1970s or as they were formerly labeled "hippies". The lone female of group is Camille Keaton of the cult classic "I Spit on Your Grave".
The movie opens with the quartet on rather large sailboat enjoying a lovely summer afternoon. Then these four young adults end up riding around in a dune buggy that just can't seem to hold a tank of gas. As soon as an ominous rain storm comes (aren't all rain storms ominous in these types of movies?) our youngsters take shelter in an old mansion.
Once in the mansion, Camille Keaton's character Jane is separated from the boys, via the dubious proprietors. The fellows are given their own area to dwell in, since the proprietors are being so kind to let these "kids" spend the night out of the rain. However, after a while these fellows feel something isn't right and search for Jane. Once they find Jane they detect she is part of a "Tragic Ceremony", hence the title of the film. Well I don't want to give the entire plot of this movie away, albeit it isn't the most complex story in the world and my description thus far as been paraphrased. Not to mention my omission of the McGuffin that is the pearl necklace.
This movie appears that it would be a standard Giallo (Italian mystery/thriller), yet "Tragic Ceremony" is a gothic horror movie at its best. I must confess that some of the angles, lighting and situations in this movie were very eerie and creepy. The scene where Jane is walking down a staircase with only candlelight guiding her was a very spooky occurrence. Even when the movie was over, I was mulling over what I had witnessed.
In contrast, there were some parts that I found rather, dare I say humorous. Aspects of the "Tragic Ceremony" were sort of funny. Things like body parts and large quantities of blood flying around induced and enticed my warped sense of humor. Nevertheless, this gave the movie much charm.
Dark Sky has done a good job bringing this movie to DVD. The picture is clear, as is the sound. However, it must be appreciated that this is an Italian horror movie. Therefore, the original dialect has been left. What does that mean? It translates that this movie must be watched with English subtitles. There is no dubbing in this movie. So unless you understand Italian, the subtitles are your only way to watch this film. I have watched my fair share of subtitled films and watching this flick with subtitles didn't bother me. Again, it added charm to the film.
The DVD also features the trailer/preview for "Tragic Ceremony", which I suggest watching AFTER you watch the movie. The trailer/preview pretty much shows all the best parts of the film while it simultaneously gives much of the story away. There is also an interview with Camille Keaton that was done rather recently. She speaks about some of her acting history and shares some stories about her days making movies. I found this to be really interesting and I must confess that Ms. Keaton is still a very attractive woman.
So if you are in the mood for an obscure and uncanny foreign horror film that is saturated with 70s ethos, then do yourself a favor and watch "Tragic Ceremony"."
Vorthog | Ontario, Canada | 11/21/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This movie kept popping up in my Amazon recommendations, and from the beautifully moody and atmospheric cover art and the plot description it sounded like something I'd probably like so I decided to give it a try, but...disappointment.
The story follows three young early-70s guys and a girl as they go for a boat cruise and then chug around in their funky dune buggy. Spanish actor Tony Isbert (hey, I just saw him in "The Dracula Saga" on another new DVD the other day too) with his blonde pretty-boy looks plays the lonely rich kid whose boat it is. He's accompanied by an opportunistic manipulator who has just befriended him for his money, as well as that guy's bearded hippy sidekick. Also along for the ride is a fresh young thang played by Camille Keaton. Mr. rich kid has the hots for her, but she doesn't care and in typical free-spirited early-70s fashion thinks nothing of jumping into bed with one of the other guys whenever she has the urge.
Rich kid gives her a necklace to try and show her how much he likes her, but oops wouldn't ya know it, it's supposed to have a Satanic curse on it. Soon they are running out of gas on a remote stretch of dark road and get directed to your local neighbourhood isolated sinister mansion, which naturally just happens to house an evil cult.
I won't spoil it for you by going into any further details, but just let me say that from here on the movie just descends into pointless, STUPID violence. Now I don't mind violence in horror if it makes sense, but here it just seems that the director has made the mistaken assumption that "violence = horror". Why is it this always seems to be the problem with Italian horror? With the exception of Argento, who manages to take things to a more artistic level, the other Italian directors always seem to just go for the cheap gore and violence and take the DUMB way out. Why can't they get a better story going like in Spanish horror like Naschy?
So anyway, you are correct in assuming that I did not like this movie. Not only did I not like the story, but I was also disappointed that nowhere in the movie did the cinematography live up to the darkly gothic atmosphere shown on the box art. Overall it just looked like your typical very dated early-70s low-budget production.
In conclusion, I have no idea why some people seem to consider this film some kind of "classic". It did absolutely nothing for me."