The Film (2/5)
Andreas Bianchi's Malabimba: The Malicious Whore is probably the best of the Exorcist knock offs to come out of the 70's. This unfortunately, is about the highest praise I can give this film. Malabimba is a pastiche of 70's genre cliches melded together into one ambitious, but painfully dull film.
Malabimba tells the story of Bimba(Katell Laennec), the teenage daughter of a wealthy family currently in decline. One night after the family holds a séance gone awry, Bimba finds herself possessed by the spirit of a disgruntled ancestor, and begins to act strangely. She begins to act out her sexual frustrations on her family from her Father, and sickly dying uncle, to a nun Sister Sofia(Mariangela Giordano) brought in to help cure her.
Malabimba plays as a mix of a high-brow family drama, a supernatural horror film, and a sexploitation piece, and while some elements do work in each of these areas, they never fully come together to form something interesting or cohesive. The director Andreas Bianchi is most well known in Eurocult circles for directing the schlock zombie opus Burial Ground: Nights of Terror. Which is my only experience with his work prior to seeing Malabimba, and I was impressed by neither.
I will not write the film off, there are a good number of scenes early on that work very well such as the opening séance sequence, which not only looks wonderfully atmospheric, but also serves as an excellent introduction to the characters, and their personalities. Also, the location of the film, much like the hotel in Kubrick's The Shining, offers the film a very interesting isolated atmosphere. The cast are all more than adequate for the needs of the film.
Overall, I do not find the film very impressive, while the plot is simply an excuse to move Bimba from one sexual encounter to the next. Also, the film is pacing is quite uneven with some parts moving quite swiftly, but there are other parts where the film slows down to a very awkward pace that is not befitting to the material.
Severin has presented Malabimba: The Malicious Whore in a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The film looks really good despite it's age, and budget. There is some grain present on the transfer, but it is barely noticeable in most parts of the film. I did watch the film in it's integral version, however, and the deleted scenes for the most part come from a sub-vhs source, and look pretty horrible. I would however recommend these scenes, because they do flesh out the story a bit more.
Malabimba features a Dolby Digital Mono Italian track with optional English subtitles. The track for the most part is very clear with only minor instances of background noise throughout.
Severin has provided us with a good amount of extras on this DVD. The most substantial of which is Malabimba Uncovered, a 17 minute long interview with Mariangela Giordano who plays Sister Sofia, and Franco Villa the director of photography on the film. The interviews with both are interesting, and they have many great anecdotes from the production. The DVD also includes 13 deleted scenes, that can be viewed as part of the film in what Severin has called the “Integral Version.” The quality of the scenes is quite lacking, having apparently been sourced from what appears to be a VHS tape. However, as I said earlier, I would suggest watching Malabimba with these scenes intact if you do not mind the noticeable decline in picture quality. The last extra is the original theatrical trailer for the film in Italian with English subtitles.
I honestly felt that this film was poorly paced, and for the most part painfully dull. Malabimba does have its moments, but they are few are far between. While I cannot recommend the film, I will say that Severin has done another fantastic job putting together a platinum quality DVD release for a film that most certainly would not have a Region 1 release this good otherwise.