Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Devicanska svirka (1973) [TV]

... aka: Song of Virgins
... aka: Virgin's Music

Directed by:
Djordje Kadijevic

Passing through the country on his way to the city, a young man named Ivan (Goran Sultanovic) arrives in a small village. After a black carriage being driven by two white horses rolls across a dusty road in the distance, his own driver (Toma Kuruzovic) refuses to take him the rest of the way to his destination... not even if God himself asked him to. Ivan is then forced to go by foot. As he approaches a large castle, he can hear strange music playing. A young boy passing through warns him to stay away right before the black carriage speeds down the road and runs him down. The coachman, Bartolomeo (Ivan Jagodic), stops and his passenger, the mysterious, sexy and extremely voluptuous Sibila (Olivera Katarina) step out to check on the unconscious, bleeding boy. Sibila asks for Ivan's help and, perhaps mesmerized by her impressive cleavage, ignores the ample warning he's already had and agrees. Ivan gets into the coach and they all go to the castle, where the boy soon passes away. Claiming she doesn't know his parents or what to even do with the body, Sibila asks Ivan to stay. After all, her castle wasn't always so quiet and lonely and perhaps with him there now things will finally change. He agrees. Again, it's all about the cleavage.







Almost immediately entering the doors of her own home, Sibila wastes no time letting her crazy colors show. When Ivan tells her he'll stay as long as she wants him to, she bursts into laughter... and sometimes that laughter has a strange echo to it. She acts like a bird, says a lot of things that don't make any sense whatsoever, discusses cemeteries and other depressing things, warns him “If you only knew how cruel I am...” and then describes her relationship with her former husband and how she didn't exactly kill him but instead took all of his joy away until he finally did die. Amazing rack or no, the fact all of this doesn't have Ivan running for the nearest exit is pretty perplexing. The two even make get romantic in the same room where the child's corpses lies and then again on a shine dedicated to her dead hubby!






Still, Ivan has fallen in love. Didn't take long but it never did in the olden days. Sibila even dresses up in a white wedding gown after he declares his adoration for her. All the while, Bartolomeo is lurking around spying on them... and that strange organ music keeps playing. Sibila tells him it's the “Virgin's Music” and promises to show him where it's coming from “at the end.” While that has a certain uneasy finality to it, she assures him “The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end.” That hardly sounds much better! At one point Ivan does get freaked out and runs away, but he ends up going back. Sibila even offers him the chance to leave and Bartolomeo's coach services but he again refuses. The allure of the unknown is too great. Candelabra in hand, she eventually takes him up a winding staircase to show him her morbid surprise.






Despite the fact you'll want to grab the protagonist, shake him and tell him what an idiot he is at various points, this is still excellent as a Gothic mood piece. The photography, lighting, barren sets and strong use of shadow (which recall silent era films) all help to make this genuinely creepy. Music and sound are used sparingly to eerie effect and even the low quality print I had to view seemed to enhance the atmosphere. Helping to hold everything together, no short order considering the dialogue often feels empty and superfluous, is a good cast. It's especially nice seeing Katarina, best known for playing the female lead in the semi-famous witch torture film MARK OF THE DEVIL (1970), again. It's obvious the director had seen Mark himself because she's given the exact same wardrobe here to maximize her cleavage. I had no idea she was as good an actress as she is until I saw this.







The director made a number of other horror films, usually produced by Serbian public broadcaster Radiotelevizija Beograd (Radio Television of Serbia). Some of the others include Darovi moje rodjake Marije (1969), LEPTIRICA (1973), Sticenik (1973) and Zaklevta (1974). He received a bit of international attention with A Holy Place (1990) and now works as a college film professor.

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