The Witches’ Mountain
Director: Raúl Artigot
Starring: Patty Shepard, Cihangir Gaffari, Mónica Randall
Couple drive to a remote area and encounter spooky witchcraft.
So it’s one of those nights, nothing from Netflix, left to fall back on my own DVD collection, and these are the moments when one falls on one’s knees in thanks for the endless bounty of the 50 Chilling Classics bargain DVD set. Once again, it hit the spot with a surgical strike of pure cheese-movie essence.
The beauty of this set is that most of the movies are from the 70s/80s, so throwing something in is like channel surfing as a teenager on the TV at home and getting drawn into some bizarre budget movie. We open with a woman driving up to an estate. She finds a wig with a butcher knife through it. She goes inside, clearly feeling creepy, and finds her cat slaughtered in her bed. Then her little daughter [maybe 8yo?] appears, and runs around looking for her pet, called Cici. As the mother runs all over the house after her, it becomes apparent that the little girl killed the cat because the cat might hunt Cici. The little girl finds Cici in a dark corner of the garage, and creepily, we never find out WHAT Cici is. Then the mother douses the place in gasoline and lights a match, instantly immolating them both [and, presumably, Cici]. And then—credits! Welcome to The Witches’ Mountain!
Now before you have a chance to ask yourself “WHAT the FUCK was THAT all about?” we meet Mario Baldour, a photographer and THE DEFINITIVE CdM RANDOM MOVIE HUNK OF THE YEAR. Mario is Spanish [I THINK this movie is Spanish], has a huge caterpillar ‘stache, big bushy eyebrows, this “come on and lick me” look in his eye, and a preference for outlandishly macho clothes that look like a Camel ad from the 70s. But it’s not all about the physical here at CdM, oh no—Mario is a photographer, his dubbed voice is deep with a touch of the Sean Connery, he’s obviously super-sensual, and is HORNY. Mario narrowly beat out Alfonso from Who Can Kill a Child as the Random Movie Hunk of the year, the deciding factor being that as dreamy and kissable as Alfonso is, he’s a bit of a sentimental schmoe, and while sure, it’s super-sweet to be a simple Spanish fisherman, he’d probably just want to sit around singing folk songs and getting drunk, as opposed to porking your hole while making you beg and thank him for it after, as Mario surely would. This was the deciding factor. We may now return to our regularly-scheduled movie review, already in progress.
So after the initial shock of realizing that not only is Mario here, HE IS A MAIN CHARACTER, we see that he has an uninvited guest in the beautiful brunette Carla. We have also experienced some very snappy 70s-drama music. Mario is not exactly excited to see her, because he’s a “You got your sizzin’ dick, now it’s time for me to plow other fields” kinda guy [help, I feel faint]. She has two tickets to Brazil and she wants him to accompany her and rebuild their love. By way of answer, Mario picks up the phone, calls his boss, and receives a photo assignment in the mountains. Carla is pissed, and throws some sass his way, but Mario cannot be swayed. We never see Carla again in this movie, and I might as well tell you before I forget: that whole amazing opening scene has nothing to do with the rest of the movie and is never referred to again.
So Mario has time to wander the cliffs in search of topless sunbathers before his trip, and is soon photographing the tremulous buds of Delia. He comes down to introduce himself and apologize insincerely, saying he took her pictures because “I just like beauty. You see, I’m an artist.” My ankles instinctively flew back behind my head at this moment, but Delia plays it cool and accepts Mario’s invitation to lunch. At lunch they smoke and make horny eyes at each other, and Mario asks Delia, who he just met fifteen minutes prior, to accompany him on his journey into the mountains, and she says no, but soon abruptly changes her mind. As Mario waits by the car, smiling smugly as he anticipates all the poon he’s secured for the weekend, he starts to hear this weird, loud chorus of women’s voices. When Delia comes out she says she didn’t hear anything.
So they drive through these picturesque, deserted mountains—you kind of start to wonder why his editor would send him out for a photo essay on this place—and eventually stop at an inn, run by a creepy Igor-type with a prominently lazy eye. At this point the non-widescreen edition is cutting off Mario from my vision, and that’s really annoying me.
So Mario shows Delia to her [separate] room and tells her to get some sleep before the next part of the trip, and I’m like “Sleep!? Are they gonna SLEEP? They, who were so horny for each other all day?” And then the unpleasant suspicion that this could be one of those movies where things get to creepy before the couple can do the hokey-pokey comes over one, and as it turns out, one would be right. Fuckin’ cock tease movie! Anyway, Delia sees something outside the window, then goes sleepwalking out in the forest at night, and in the morning the innkeeper warns Mario not to take Delia up to the hills. Of course they go anyway.
SPOILERS > > >
So they go a’drivin’, and get out to take pictures. They’re up the hill, when down below, someone takes off with their Jeep! That cracked me up. So they walk, walk, walk into town, and suddenly come across their Jeep, with the keys still in it. Incredibly, they just leave the Jeep right there, again with THE KEYS IN IT! Have these people learned nothing? They are in this whole abandoned village, with only one old crone living in a stone cottage. So hey, they ask if they can stay the night! These people are really asking for it. I never said Mario was the brightest. But that’s okay, what he lacks in brain cells he makes up for in facial hair follicles.
So the old woman—who just HAPPENS to be preparing a cauldron of spooky brew—warns Mario not to go out, but you know what we were just saying about his brain power. He gets lost and sees this procession of women in robes, while at the inn the woman has drugged Delia! She wakes in the morning and Mario comes home soon after.
Then we see that Mario has this cool mobile darkroom that he sets out on the hood of the Jeep. I had no idea such things existed. He finds all the pictures, when developed, are of old women who weren’t there when he took them. Oh, and by the way, when Delia was in her drugged sleep she had a dream she was naked under a wedding veil and led to this man who looks like Mario a little, but has a beard. Is Mario a warlock? HOT!
So they go up into the woods [aren’t you guys ready to give up this trip by now?], get tired, and set up a tent. It seems that they are finally about to fish Mario’s love pole out of its musty prison when suddenly—the tent is torn open by a whole buncha witches! I just can’t get no satisfaction.
Now I’ve forgotten to tell you that the transfer on the disc is so bad that for long sections the screen appears to have gone black, but here, even though you can see everything, you can’t really tell what’s going on. The bulk of the witches perform some elaborate dance routine [to “Gimmie More”] while three witches have Delia face-down and nude on a ceremonial slab. Mario watches in horror as… well, I can’t really tell what was going on. They wake up in a CAVE, Delia with the veil on and next to the bearded guy from the vision. Don’t ask me. She runs out, and Mario runs after her, but she runs right off a cliff and dies. Mario drives all the way back home, his ripped clothes appealingly hanging from his body, only to find a house full o’ witches. I think Delia is now among them. I’ll bet you five dollars he really wishes he had reconsidered Brazil with Carla.
< < < SPOILERS END
I cannot tell you what the hell that was about. What WAS it about? What did the woman at the beginning have to do with anything? What happened to Carla? Why was she there? Did she curse them somehow? Was Carla there at the end with the bunch of witches? I didn’t see her, but I can’t think what else she was doing at the beginning, and what the purpose of the whole movie was if not for that [albeit flimsy] storyline. What WAS it about? They go off into the woods and things go from bad to worse to abominable, the end? I don’t get it.
Nevertheless, it was bizarrely compelling. Now the average person, who probably would not be hypnotized into a state of sensual ecstasy by Mario’s fulsome mustache, can subtract about 75% of how compelling they might find this movie. Still, I kind of enjoyed it. The witchcraft stuff, spread out through the movie, is spooky enough, and the whole thing is just so weird… it’s just that looking back, I can’t really think of much of a reason to watch it, aside from—well, you know.
You can definitely live without it, but it’s reasonably amusing, has lots of atmosphere and Mucho Mario.