No trailer but full movie streaming here
Black Candles- or its more fitting title The Sexual Rites of the Devil- really has to be seen to be believed. The film in essence is an 82 minute long softcore/sexploitation film masquerading under the guise of a Satanic horror which features more 80’s bush and boobs than you can shake a stick at, and a scene in which a naked woman fornicates with a goat- yes you DID read that right. Director Jose Ramon Larraz- who is better known for his brooding erotic horror Vampryes (1974)- really went to town in this film. But then who can blame him with a plot serves solely as a vehicle to have the cast cavorting around in various stages of nakedness (normally full) and conducting orgies with wild abandon at the drop of a hat- and all in a fairly graphic manner that leaves little to the imagination.
The story follows Carol (Vanessa Hidalgo) and her husband Robert (Mauro Rivera) who travel to England to visit Carol’s childhood family home after her brother dies there in mysterious circumstances. Eager to know more about her brother’s death Carol hopes to extract information from his widow Fiona (Helga Liné). But Fiona is strangely shifty when it comes to divulging the details; although openly admits that both her and her late husband had recently acquired an interest in the occult. This is confirmed by some weird satanic etchings which the couple have seen fit to daub the walls of their home with. And it would seem that the shady creature is harbouring a sexually liberated Satanic cult in her home; a cult who are planning (as in most Satanic flicks) to facilitate the coming of Satan’s child ( I think). Preparations for this involve a goat, plenty of naked women, a seedy looking high Priest with a long fingernail and luring Carol’s husband Robert into the fold. Robert who was initially reluctant to stay at the country manor has a change of heart once Fiona seduces him. While Carol remains largely clueless and doped up on weird herbs Fiona keeps feeding her until preparations are complete. This is only my summation of the plot as it has gaping holes and I am just filling in the gaps with my own musings. It does not really elaborate what they are doing with the goat’s semen they pop into a random girl, and how that relates to Carol. It is also insinuated they may be trying to kill Carol but why that needs someone to have sex with a goat, and why they need Robert’s helpfor this, who knows?
A note on the sexual scenes, and there are many. As scene after scene launches into yet another woman stripping off and mounting some leering bloke while she starts screaming and moaning in ecstasy, in fake porn overdub style, it all gets a bit wearing and slightly sad. Larraz has made some much better films and is on record stating his own dislike for this movie. It is a shame that he got caught up in this mess of a film which uses sex to pad out most of the running time, instead of focusing on plot or character development. As well as the sex scenes- man on girl, girl on girl, masturbation, voyeurism, buggery and orgies- there are a few ‘shock’ factors added in. One of which comes in the form of some bestiality with a ‘horny’ goat, that gets fluffed by a crow faced hag in the barn before he comes on to do his money shot (he actually lasts a lot longer than some of the human males amongst this ramshackle cast). There is also a moment when a bloated bellied pornstached man gets sodomised with a ceremonial sword. While this wasn’t particularly unpleasant, providing a brief moment of gore, I would ask was it really necessary to have a lingering close up shot of his sweating hairy buttocks prior to the insertion of the object in question? .
In line with the “cheap and cheerful, full Euro-sleaze” vibe of the piece, no time is spent on developing the story or the characters, making them largely forgettable. Most of the focus is spent on etching their naked forms into the viewers minds rather than providing any motivation for their actions, or personality, or any believability beyond that of souless fuck machines. Not that they need much motivation as they clearly have insatiable libidos and being in this gang of cult followers means they certainly get enough action to satisfy that aspect. Likewise the plot is flimsy at best, and follows a fairly predictable course until the abrupt ending. It is almost as if they ran out of excuses to get the cast to get their kit off so just cut the camera off and set the credits rolling (by credits I mean THE END in red writing).
One thing Larraz did get right was the atmosphere. Being a very underrated director and producing some complete gems in the seventies Euro-horror cannon- such as Vampyres and Symptoms- his trademark style of shooting to capture a dark and brooding ambience is there if you can get past the guff. Once again he uses a remote country location surrounded by beautiful woodland scenery to great effect, as he does in the two aforementioned films, to evoke a sense of both eerie isolation and provide an exquisite backdrop. There is a distinct technical excellence involved which is undeniable and makes it even more of a shame that he has associated himself with this half-baked slice of extreme Euro-sleaze.
On balance Black Candles is not a complete waste of time however, being one for lovers of Euro-trash, Larraz completists, and a film that just has to be seen on novelty value alone. Just be warned, do not go into it expecting too much as it does lack the intelligence of some of his other movies. I cannot help feeling though it could have been so much better than it was having seen the excellent standard and obvious art he has demonstrated in some of his other projects. A mindless diversion at best which does little to showcase the otherwise highly talented skills of Larraz and says even less about the actors involved apart from they did not mind flashing a bit of flesh for their ‘art’.