Sunday, 30 November 2014

Satanic Attraction (1990) Fauzi Mansur

Obscure Brazilian pornographer Fauzi Mansur made just two horror films that anyone knows about, but in the second billed, Ritual of Death, he reached higher than a lot of better known and more legit film makers managed in entire careers. That film is a trash great, the sort of thing that reminds you why you got into watching that stuff in the first place and makes you commit to never stopping. Satanic Attraction alas is not great. In fact, some would have you think that it pretty much sucks. Suck it does not, but it sure ain't great. 

The set up has legs, radio presenter Fernanda entertains her listeners with a neat line in gruesome horror stories but finds herself in trouble when her stories are mirrored in gory reality, there's a nasty killer out there and interested in her, and the police have their suspicions too. And there's promising stuff on screen, the film opening for instance on native dancers and drummers by a river, led by a menacing figure in big gnarly head mask with horns, fur and tinsel. Then our menace is walking down a fresh, clean and well lit corridor to a gathering of squeaky looking upper class types, there are skull candles and a child's blood ceremony. Always fun to see deathless strange roots, new and upward bound embracing old macabre. 

Fernanda's studio is pleasing also, dim light barely pushing through dark and mist, cloth fan, little carven half nude and headless figurine, almost cavernous sense of space, lack of much in the way of equipment, it appears altogether like some elder worship place swiftly and shabbily re-purposed. All the better to spread the supernatural really. It doesn't matter that it doesn't really make sense that Fernanda does her show in the afternoon (doesn't every country have some concept of a watershed?), nor that everyone she knows seems to listen to her, in bar, boat or bedroom even though she isn't that great (I would have listened to something else and lied about it), nor that the police can't either shut her down or investigate better. It's a link, and an interesting one, and that's all that matters. 

On the pluses there's also the gore. More graphic and a little better looking than a lot around at the time there are at least a couple of pretty memorable scenes (including a bit with soap that manages to be more unsettling rather than less for its sheer ridiculousness) and more in general besides. 

But then there are are the minuses. Well really its the one big minus. The acting is bad and the dubbing is worse, but then who really cares about that. I heard a full on cut glass English accents from a Chinese princess in a kung fu movie one time and even that was more authentically emotive than the work here, but its all good. No, the real problem is the pacing. This kind of film needs to be concentrated, no time to think, everything done in 85 to 90 minutes at most. We don't need to know about the main characters love life or her friends or their lives or the incompetent cops unless these scenes are either straight direct or delayed direct set ups for weirdness, or for T&A, or sometimes even for humour. In a film like this we don't need anything that's just there, and yet there it is, here, turning what should be a definite blast into over 100 minutes that is only a little, at times. It's frustrating because this could have been so good. Well, not quite Ritual of Death good but still aces. This isn't aces. 

But its still worth a watch if you like this sort of thing. I wouldn't go so far as to call it "good", but if you need this sort of thing in your life and you've seen the better examples in recent memory you should definitely check this out. You probably won't even like it as much as I did, but you should check it out anyway, it might be better than whatever alternative you were thinking about before reading this. So watch it. Or don't. Woozle wazzle!

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