THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT (1973): Vampires, Bald and Naked
While it does not quite reach the same exhilirating level as LADY FRANKENSTEIN, Luigi Batzella's THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT stands as a rousing vehicle for Rosalba Neri. Having previously played the daughter of Frankenstein (who continues her dead father's experiments for revenge and carnal pleasure), Neri takes on the role of a female vampire in the possession of a fabled ring once held by Count Dracula, as well as other nefarious characters. Said to grant its bearer great power, the Countess uses the ring to lure virgins to her castle (a reasonable use for a vampire who likes to indulge in sapphic pleasures). In the meantime, the Countess plays host to Mark Damon, acting in a double role as a pair of twin brothers, one of whom has tracked down the ring to castle. Seducing Damon, the Countess targets him as the new host to the spirit of Dracula himself.
A pastiche of tropes and scenarios from (frankly) better films (BLACK SUNDAY comes to mind), THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT tends to muddle a bit, but Batzella's occasionally arresting imagery, as well as Neri's sexy but commanding premise, make the film worth a look. While he's certainly not cut from the same cloth as Mario Bava, Batzella manages to create an eerily erotic gothic atmosphere, highlighted by a fog-bound scene of undead women gathering for a blood orgy, and--especially--scenes of Rosalba Neri bathed in blood and rising naked from her crypt.
Even with such scenes, the movie sometimes falls flat and slows to a crawl. Playing two parts, Damon does not distinguish himself very well, even during a psychedelic scene in which he leers maniacally upon Neri as she makes love with another female vampire. Neri's bald henchman comes across as unintentionally comic, though the inevitable plot twists involving Damon playing twins turn out to be fun, if predictable.
According to imdb.com, Joe D'Amato worked as cinematographer on this film, and ultimately, we can probably credit him (along with Neri) for most of the film's merits. Despite the scratchy print, I still enjoyed the overall look of the film, which comes across as something of a live-action fumetti.
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