This film is a bit of an oddity, a movie that has more in common with art-house cinema than the more conventional stalk-n-slash murder movies that were popular at the time. The story of a woman descending into madness is a familiar one that was utilised through the '70s, so don't expect anything new from the plot. The style of direction, the fashions and the camera-work is also very typical of the period which gives this film a solid grounding as well as making it extremely dated – but hey, isn't that part of the fun of watching?
Ultimately, BABA YAGA, DEVIL WITCH is a disappointment because nothing seems to happen. Once the story has evolved, the movie alternates between scare scenes and dialogue, neither of which are done very well. It's a shame, because many of the horror ingredients here have the opportunity to be extremely frightening, had better use been made of them. The idea of a hole in the ground leading to hell I loved, and the weird fetish doll is an extraordinarily creepy idea. As another plus, Carroll Baker is effective in the role of Baba Yaga, the witch, even though she isn't given much to work with...she certainly gave me the chills!
Sadly too much of the film is filled with filler material, and it seems that the director struggled to adapt this movie from its comic book roots. There seems to be a focus on female nudity rather than plot, and minor characters like the black man come and go with little impact on the actual storyline. There's no faulting the acting, as Isabelle De Funes' heroine is pleasingly complex, far more than a simple screaming victim, and big George Eastman gives one of his better performances early on in his career. It's just that BABA YAGA, DEVIL WITCH is so familiar. There's absolutely nothing in the way of originality here, and while a good few individual moments are decently done, as a whole the film is run-of-the-mill entertainment.
Strange things have been happening to Valentina, a young and beautiful professional photographer, ever since she made the acquaintance of Baba Yaga, a mysterious older woman who gave her a lift home late one night. For one thing, Valentina has been having weird, kinky nightmares. For another, one of Valentina's cameras seems to have acquired a deadly curse. And then there was that visit to Baba Yaga's house, where Valentina discovered bizarre relics, including a dominatrix doll, and a bottomless pit in the living room. Valentina comes to realize that Baba Yaga is a witch who is out to possess her - body and soul. —Eugene Kim
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