The Reincarnation of Isabel (1972)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Gothic Film, Supernatural Horror  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - Italy   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The kinks come fast and furious in this hallucinatory and sexually overheated supernatural horror film. The voluptuous Rita Calderoni stars as a young woman who inherits an ancient Italian castle, unaware that in its lower depths a vampire cult is attempting to raise their witch priestess (also Calderoni) from the dead. Mickey Hargitay co-stars as her protective uncle who has a sinister connection to the dead witch. Having established this thumbnail story line, director Renato Polselli (The Vampire and the Ballerina, 1960) quickly abandons it in favor of a bewildering fever-dream procession of Sadean images drenched in psychedelic candy colors by cinematographer Ugo Brunelli. While conventional genre film admirers may find the proceedings baffling and a mite pretentious, one cannot argue that Polselli has a particular talent for combining Gothic horror with disturbing and often indelible erotic imagery. Made simultaneously with Polselli's equally shocking psycho-thriller Delirium, and featuring much of the same cast (with the addition of pop singer Raoul Rossi), The Reincarnation of Isabel was long considered lost in its original form. A one-hour version entitled The Ghastly Orgies of Count Dracula was the only proof of its existence until the U.K.'s Salvation Films located a complete print and released it upon an unsuspecting DVD audience. Eagle-eyed Euro-horror fans will note that the castle setting (Castle Balsorano, in the L'Aquila region of Italy) is the same location where Hargitay wreaked havoc in 1965 as the Crimson Executioner in Bloody Pit of Horror. Salvation's letterboxed DVD presentation includes the original trailer, which highlights many of the film's most eye-popping scenes.