Baba Yaga is a unique watch. On the one hand it follows a formula set out by many other 1970’s Italian exploitation films. On the other though, it is something of an art project rather than a movie. There’s a plot but it is knitted together around scenes of sexuality and sensuality, a lot of which make little sense.
Written and directed by Corrado Farina and based on the Guido Crepax Valentina comic series. The film stars Carroll Baker, Isabelle De Funès and George Eastman.
De Funès plays Valentina Rosselli, who is a photographer who specialises in unusual work, often sexually provocative. One night, she saves a dog from being run down by a car driven by a woman who calls herself Baba Yaga (Carroll Baker).
Valentina is driven home by the woman, disturbed by her comments that their meeting was pre-ordained but intrigued by her mysterious nature. That night, Valentina has vivid dreams that leave her uncomfortable but in the morning light they’re easier to dismiss.
Baba Yaga invites Valentina to her home to take photos and gives her a doll dressed in bondage gear as a gift. This seems to spark even more strange dreams and when her life begins to spiral out of control, Valentina suspects Baba Yaga is to blame.
Will she be able to break the curse of Baba Yaga?
Dripping in sensuality, for all its artistic style, Baba Yaga relies on skin in its attempts to titillate. Isabelle De Funès doesn’t keep her clothes on much here and every photo-shoot inevitably involves women being topless or naked. Even though it fits the narrative, after all its story is that Baba Yaga effectively wants to have sex with Valentina, it is pretty constant.
Call all the skin an attempt to distract from what it is at its core, a threadbare story that falls to elect much more than a yawn. The cast aren’t terrible, although neither De Funès or Baker manage to command the screen as much as they should.
Is it a pretty film? Yes but that’s about it sadly.
The Final Score - 4/10