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Another fun dollop of trashy horror from Spainís Jose Ramon Larraz, of WHIRLPOOL and VAMPYRES fame. BLACK CANDLES isnít in the same league as those others (doesnít even come close, in fact), but does satisfy in the sleaze department. In other words, there are worse ways to waste 84 minutes.

The Package
     This film, which is also known as LOS RITOS SEXUALES DEL DIABLO and HOT FANTASIES, has a copyright date of 1982, but plays much like the trashy British-made seventies-era sexploiters--which include DEVIATION and THE HOUSE THAT VANISHED--with which Mr. Larraz made his name. Interesting, then, that Larraz reportedly disowned the present film after it was completed, utilizing his standard pseudonym ďJoseph Braunstein.Ē

The Story
     Carol and Robert, a young couple, travel to England in the wake of Carolís brotherís shocking death. The latter was part of a satanic coven, who killed him with a voodoo doll in an apparent effort at luring Carol into the covenís clutches.
     Carol and Robert stay with Carolís sister-in-law, who lives in a secluded mansion in the English countryside. The place contains several weird accoutrements, including black candles and satanic etchings. Clearly not all is right with Carolís sister-in-law, as is proven when she masturbates while spying on Carol and Robert screwing in the guest bedroom. Thereís more sex to come, with Carol dreaming of being ravished by her deceased brother in the mansionís court yard while her sister-in-law watches--and eventually joins in.
     It seems Carol is being inducted into the satanic cult that took the life of her brother, and before long sheís force-fed a vile herbal tea and made to take part in perverse sexcapades--one of them with a lamb! One of the sectís more kind-hearted adherents tries to rescue Carol from her tormentors but is caught in the act, and gets a sword rammed up his ass as punishment.
     Robert, meanwhile, is himself being inducted into the cult. Heís seduced by Carolís sister-in-law and made part of a weird sex ritual in the mansionís basement, with lots of naked people standing around watching. This turns Robert into an abusive, anal sex loving freak who readies Carol for a final blasphemous initiation.

The Direction
BLACK CANDLES has many Jose Ramon Larraz trademarks--strikingly gritty photography, an extremely frank approach to sex and violence--but isnít one of his better works. Itís a none-too-disguised rip off of ROSEMARYíS BABY spiced with elements (the remote mansion setting, etc) borrowed from Larrazís most famous film VAMPYRES.
     Its raison díetre, of course, are the copious soft-core sex scenes, which are noteworthy for their sheer variety: rape, voyeurism, masturbation, sodomy, lesbianism and plain old heterosexual coitus all come into play. I guess itís inevitable that the narrative is a confusing jumble and the acting uniformly shitty (with one supporting performer constantly glancing offscreen, presumably at cue cards), with crappy English dubbing adding to the awfulness. Such things certainly donít make for a good movie, but BLACK CANDLES is an attention-getter without question.

Vital Statistics

BCI Eclipse

Direction: ďJoseph BraunsteinĒ (Jose Ramon Larraz)
Screenplay: Jose Ramon Larraz
Cinematography: Juan Marine
Editing: Harold Wallmann
Cast: Jose Luis Barcelo, Christopher Bright, Julia Caballero, Carmen Carrion, Anastasio de la Fuente, Jeffrey Healey, Vanessa Hidalgo, Lucille Jameson, Paul Kendall, Helga Line, Alfred Lucchetti