Review: Tragic Ceremony

Tragic Ceremony isn’t scary enough to induce terror, unintentionally funny enough for camp.

Tragic Ceremony
Photo: Dark Sky Films

Riccardo Freda’s Tragic Ceremony starts out as a nondescript, frankly mundane Italian variation of the horror movie template where four kids having car trouble stop at a haunted house and find themselves kidnapped by a satanic cult. As the heroine, Camille Keaton delivers another creepily vacant bit of somnambulistic non-acting reminiscent of her similar performance in the notorious exploitation shocker I Spit on Your Grave. Anyone expecting more of the same sleazy, rape-driven Euro horror will be disappointed by this more humble offering, which proffers a tone of meandering dread only occasionally interrupted by the appearance of a corpse falling out of a closet with its skin painted blue. What’s surprising here is that the four hippie heroes actually manage to fight their way out of the satanic villa midway through, with fetishistic, even orgasmic slow-mo shots of heads getting split in two by axes and gallons of blood as shiny as nail polish splattering all over the musty sets. Freda was so proud of his handiwork, he recycles the exact same gory images over and over again for the rest of the movie, intercut with pensive close-ups of these guilt-ridden young existentialists searching their consciences and asking God what they’ve done. When they watch the news, their crime is compared (by Scotland Yard, even though everyone’s speaking Italian) to the murder of Sharon Tate. These sporadic bursts of cult-movie oddness are amusing, but Tragic Ceremony isn’t scary enough to induce terror, unintentionally funny enough for camp, or bizarre enough for mad surrealism.

 Cast: Camille Keaton, Tony Isbert, Maximo Valverde, Luigi Pistilli, Luciana Paluzzi, jose Valvo, Giovanni Petrucci, Irina Demick, Paul Muller  Director: Riccardo Freda  Screenwriter: Mario Bianchi, Jose G. Maesso, Leonardo Martin  Running Time: 87 min  Rating: NR  Year: 1972  Buy: Video

Jeremiah Kipp

Jeremiah Kipp is a New York City based writer, producer and director with over ten years experience creating narrative and commercial films.

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