Latarnia presents CASTILIAN CRIMSON
The Spanish Horror Film





Director: Jose Ramon Larraz
Screenplay: Jose Ramon Larraz
Music: CAM Espana
Cast: Vanesa Hidalgo, Helga Line, Mauro Rivera, Alfredo Luchetti, Carmen Carrion
Running time: 85 minutes




"People of importance are continuously making pacts with the devil."

As the above quote indicates, Jose Larraz's LOS RITOS SEXUALES DEL DIABLO deals with, among other things, classism within a secretive cult of Satanists. Well dressed, they meet in a lavishly appointed rustic hideout complete with a handy set of black candles on hand which are quickly produced in the event of a power outage or the impulse for a satanic rite.

"When the Devil tempted Eve he found his first willing servant."

Carol (Vanessa Hildago) and Robert (Mauro Rivera) travel to England after the sudden death of Carol's brother. They are greeted at the airport by the brother's longtime companion, a middle aged but still sensual woman (Helga Line). At the rural cottage where the couple lived Carol discovers lithographs of various demons along with strange, strong odors. At night she has disturbing, incestuous dreams involving her being sexually pursued by her late brother along with his always-clad-in-black mistress. From here on in the plot follows that of ROSEMARY'S BABY too closely for comfort with a dash of DEAD OF NIGHT at the very end. Of course, the area is a nest for a local coven run by Line and a sinister minister. Robert turns out to be a defrocked priest and turns on Carol. Lots of soft core sex interludes, forced anal sodomy, satanic rape follow punctuated with bestiality (a scene involving a goat is missing from some prints), lesbianism, and a man getting skewered from behind with a sword. It's all very pro forma and efficient but it's too obviously derivative to be really very suspenseful.

Larraz has since rejected the film and its cast in some interviews. Line, a queen of 1970's Spanish horror (LORELEI'S GRASP, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB) is quite well cast here and licks her lips like an cat in heat as she spies on the targeted couple's guilty sex sessions. Her performance and Juan Marine's pastel colored lighting give the film a classy sheen. The opening sequence shows Larraz at his best. A man watches from behind a window as a woman walks out of the woods, as they make love a few moments later there is a sudden cut to a hand sticking a pin in a doll, the man collapses on top of his lover. Opening credits roll.

Larraz and the Spanish cast hid behind Anglo covers on the English language dub, BLACK CANDLES. If there's any subtext to the film at all it's that a turbulently Catholic country like Spain somewhere in its soul wants to be a conservative, repressed place where covens can lurk behind upper middle class facades.

Reviewed by Robert Monell 2002