Renato Polselli’s 1974 film Black Magic Rites (AKA The Reincarnation of Isabel) makes an interesting comparison with Lucio Fulci’s slightly later eurohorror offering The Beyond, which I saw and mentioned here a couple of days ago. The acting in both films is equally bad, the plots are just as incoherent, and both films rely very heavily on gore. There ate two main differences, to my eye. Firstly, the gore in Black Magic Rites has some connection with the story (such as it is) and contributes something to the feel of the movie; the gore in The Beyond is simply thrown in so you won’t notice how boring the movie is. Secondly, Black Magic Rites at least conveys some sense of actual horror, of events that challenge rationality, some sense of real weirdness, and these are elements sadly lacking in Fulci’s movie. That’s not to say that Polselli’s effort is a great movie. It does, however, offer a certain amount of fun, and it has some truly bizarre moments. A sex scene accompanied by dixieland jazz music is not something I’ve encountered in any other movie that I can remember, and after seeing this one it’s easy to see why it’s an idea that hasn’t exactly caught on.
The plot is a fairly stock standard horror movie plot, involving an attempt to bring back to life a woman who was burned in the 14th century as a witch, who was also apparently a vampire. If you’re a fan of very strange eurohorror movies, movies that are very strange even by eurohorror standards, then Black Magic Rites may be just what you’ve been waiting for.