La visita del vicio (1978)

I think the strain of making a few softcore movies got to José Ramón Larraz. He was known somewhat for his haunted London series of films and the last few movies he made after returning to Spain were technically fine, but didn’t have the hint of berserk weirdness that he’d shown in England. And then he made The Coming of Sin.

Triana (Lidia Zuazo, using the name Lydia Stern; she only acted in one other movie, José Antonio Villalba’s Consultorio sexológico) is a quiet young girl consumed by her dreams, like one where she’s nude and running from a man on horseback. As the couple she works for is going on an extended vacation without her, she’s loaned to Lorna Western (Patricia Granada, billed as Patrice Grant), an artist who has created her own female-centric world that she remains in firm control of. It’s so powerful that men find themselves either upset by it or even unable to enter the grounds.

Of course, seeing as how this is a piece of Eurosleaze strangeness, the two women must have a relationship of a sapphic nature, but it feels earned and not just because we’re in a movie and these things need done to please the audience. Even when they leave the grounds for their date, it never seems strange or otherworldly, other than the fact that Lorna possesses an air of authority that challenges men.

But then Chico (Rafael Machado, billed as Ralph Margulis) invades their world and the two women find themselves upended by him. He’s charmed Triana away from her soulmate and now the dreams that the two women shared have been taken away and replaced by a woman who is willing to do whatever it takes to make her man succeed.

At one point, someone tells Triana, “Even though you’re one of us, you come from a dark corner.” It’s true — she’s another of Larraz’s haunted heroines, a woman who holds multitudes if those multitudes are most often expressed as a smoldering sensuality, an intense fantasy life and perhaps a propensity for violence. Instead of an English country manor in the midst of the fog, she’s just living in a rich woman’s world, a place created for her that once she gives in to the traditional roles society demands of her must be destroyed.

Is Triana a child of the devil, obsessed with fate and dreams filled with symbols? Is her future truly to include her bringing an end to someone she holds most dear? Is Chico even real of some kind of vampiric notion out to destroy the perfection of the world that Lorna has carefully constructed? And how does Larraz make a movie that thematically feels like it could have come from the cameras of Jess Franco but infused it with a dreamy logic that makes it more sumptuous and just plain hot?

Sure, characters shift motivations and it all gets rather talky at times, but a movie where a woman finds herself nude and trapped inside a gigantic gold horse is the kind of surreal madness that this oddball mind demands and Larraz finally figures out how to combine his horror style with the kind of S cinema that was the rage in a newly free Spain.

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