Mar 31, 2018

The Devil's Plaything (1973)


Original title: Der Fluch der schwarzen Schwestern (Germany),  De vlock der zwartze zusters (Belgium) and Vampire Ecstasy for the VHS release in the US.



Three women arrive at an ancient castle: (from left) Monika Tarnek (Ulrike Butz), her girlfriend, and Helga Borich (Marie Forså).  They are shown around by the dour housekeeper, Fraulein Wanda Krock (Nadia Henkowa).  She tells Monika and Helga that they are descendants of Baroness Dania Vargo who was burned alive for being a vampire back in the 1800s.

As a storm brews outside, two travelers -- Dr Julia Malenko (Anke Syring), an anthropologist studying the local superstitions, and her brother Peter (Nico Wolf) -- knock on the castle door. They are having car trouble and need shelter for the night.

That night, no one can get a damn wink of sleep for all this bongo music.  It's Wanda and the other castle servants doing some crazy-ass ritual dance/Bossa Nova somewhere deep in the castle.

The next day, Monika asks about that haunting bongo beat.  Julia tells them all about the legend of Baroness Dania.  She died by being burned, not staked, so her spirit is still around... waiting to take over a body and return to life.

Wanda and her creepy minions put Helga under a trance and start groping her.

Samana (Claudia Fielers) touches Helga in inappropriate places.  But when Helga is snapped out of her trance, she remembers nothing.

Later, Wanda's minions start chanting, which puts Helga under their spell again.  She wanders to the barn.

Helga lays in the hay and starts rubbing herself.

She's joined by Monika's girlfriend, and the two have sex.

Helga tells Peter to meet her in the barn.

Helga is followed by Julia down the stairs...

Julia tells her that she is in danger.  She may not realize it, but she's acting like a slut in heat, and it may be due to the spirit of the Baroness.

Helga tells her she's full of shit - that she's just jealous.  Julia does harbor incestuous feelings for her brother, so Helga has struck a raw nerve.

That night, Wanda and her crew do another bongo dance.  And we all know what that does for Helga.

Helga grabs a candle from the dresser, and proceeds to do you-know-what.

M'lady Marie Forså really delivers in this film. Bravo.

Wanda realizes she can't take over Peter's mind because he's wearing a "cross of herbs" that his sister gave him.

Wanda telepathically commands Helga to stop masturbating with the candle and get that cross away from Peter, now!

Helga enters Peter's room

But she cannot touch the cross.  Mission aborted.

Wanda enters Helga's room.  Helga begs her to make the throbbing stop.

Wanda promises to make the throbbing go away... as long as she gets that cross of herbs away from Peter.

Marie Forså is a stone cold fox.


Helga calls Peter to her room and pleads for him to help her.  So, he gives her his cross.  Victory.


Left: Promotional photo depicting this scene
Wanda returns to Helga's room later, takes the cross with a fire poker, and burns it in the stove.

Wanda admits to Julia that Wanda and her black sisters are actually priestesses of Baroness Dania and that they are planning for a mating between one of the sisters and a male descendant of Dania's line.  It will occur tonight - "The Night of the Vampire".

Julia rushes to talk to Monika, but she won't wake up.

Julia looks up at her girlfriend, who suddenly doesn't seem trustworthy.  Julia runs to the window to open the curtains and bring in some light.


Julia is strangled by Monika's girlfriend, but manages to break free using her cross of herbs.



Monika rises from her sleep and walks like a zombie through the castle


She is brought to the dungeon where Wanda and her black sisters have been awaiting her arrival.

Monika is ceremonially disrobed.


Helga is here as well.

Monika commands Helga to come to her, then proceeds to bite her neck.

 Now, back to Julia.  She's returned to the castle.  But why is she totally naked?

In an absolutely astounding act of gratuitous nudity, a bunch of bats attacked Julia and tore her clothes off.

Unbelievable. I raise my glass to Anke Syring.

The next morning, Peter enters Julia's room.  She tells him everything, and he agrees to escape with her through the woods.

But after a day traipsing through the forest, they find themselves back at the castle where they are greeted by Monika (who is now completely possessed by the spirit of Baroness Dania).

Monika wants to drink Julia's blood and watch her die on a stake, but she can't because of that blasted garlic cross.

She sends Peter to get it, but he fails.  [Note that Julia is not actually topless in this scene; but I guess it made sense to have boobs on the lobby card.]

Monika calls upon Helga once again.

Would you believe Monika's command is for Wanda and the black sisters to stick a candle inside her?

You don't actually see penetration; but it's enough to make me wonder if there is an x-rated version out there somewhere.


Monika has sex with Peter.

Julia manages to escape again.  This time, when Monika pursues her, Julia is able to ram a stake into her chest.

With the Baroness dead, Wanda and the black sisters are free of the curse.  Julia says:
"At last, they are free... and the Baroness, at long last, is at rest."

Well, it's all over.  Yeah, it's going to be awkward among these three (what with that candle incident and such), but it'll be okay.... not for Monika, of course.   THE END

This is a fucking amazing movie.  This is why these old sleazy pictures have legions of fans decades later.  They were just insane, wildly entertaining, and profoundly shocking pieces of celluloid dynamite.

Let's take stock: Marie Forså has a candle stuck in her TWICE, and Anke Syring has all her clothes ripped off by bats!  Once this film hits its stride, it's just wall-to-wall nudity and with a story told at a relentless pace.  Marie Forså, Anke Syring and Ulrike Butz are all smoking hot and each provide the full frontal.


This clip from an old magazine slams the film, calling it a "predictably pretentious load of old cobblers about witches and covens and spells and smells - and candles, don't forget the phallic candles - in a dank old German mansion."

I suppose we can't expect critics to appreciate it... and perhaps there was such an embarrassment of riches back in 1974, that they took sleazy gems like this for granted. Now that cinema has become so polished and sanitized, we can perhaps appreciate disreputable  insane films like this, which simply would never be produced today.

★★★

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