Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In short: Darkside Witches (2015)

Strange things are happening in a small Italian mountain village. Men disappear, silly CGI creatures roam, and porn scenes turn towards penis mutilation. It’s the vengeance of six innocent white witches lead by one Sibilla (Barbara Bouchet) whose death by burning during the middle ages has actually put them onto the path they were burned for, and who are now out to open a gate to hell.

Fortunately, Vatican exorcist Don Gabriele (director/writer/producer/etc Gerard Diefenthal adding male lead to the list) just happens to stroll into the village because the place’s main priest once was his mentor. Even though Gabriele is in a bit of a crisis of faith, he soon starts fighting the good fight again, later on with his excellent cartoonish support group.

I miss Bruno Mattei, I truly do, so an Italian film like Darkside Witches gives me all fuzzy feelings with its weirdly constructed plot, its bizarre dialogue post-dubbed by people with heavy accents of unknown origins, its absolute willingness to become tasteless whenever it might be (in)appropriate and the ACTING(!!!) style acting. It’s – as the Mattei comparison probably makes clear – not the kind of film people who care about that sort of thing will ever call “good”, but it sure as hell has a lot of fun being the preposterous and pretty awesome exploitation monstrosity it is.

I’m fond of many parts of the movie: Diefenthal’s earnest performance, Barbara Bouchet doing the bad main witch for quite a few more scenes than you’d expect, the shameless CGI blood, the way Gabriele’s friends act a lot like an RPG party (or really crap X-Men), the random gratuitous nudity, the plastic synth soundtrack, the tacky and often absurd costumes, and so on. This, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t a film in any way interested to stick to your ideas of good taste or good filmmaking. Instead, Darkside Witches wants to put everything on screen it thinks awesome. That it can’t really afford everything it wants to show, and so has to make do with increasingly dubious and home-made psychedelic looking CGI and a few not very good practical effects, that its ideas of structure are rather no ideas at all is utterly beside the point, because Diefenthal’s film is putting it all on screen anyway, even if “all” is made out of digital fog and goes from making little sense to making no sense at all, but with inter-dimensional travel.

And no, this doesn’t mean Darkside Witches is so bad it is good – rather, the film just doesn’t care about your (or my, for that matter) ideas of “good movies” and “bad movies” at all, doing its own thing in a way I find totally irresistible, and for which I can only salute Diefenthal. May he make more movies soon.

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