SALEM HORROR FEST: Morgiana (1972)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie was watched as part of Salem Horror Fest. You can still get a weekend pass for weekend two. Single tickets are also available. Here’s the program of what’s playing.

Juraj Herz is most often associated with the Czechoslovak New Wave and his 1969 film The Cremator. A Holocaust survivor who had sixty of his family die in the camps, he was a self-taught director who gravitated toward horror while also keeping his eye toward fairy tales. He commented once that dark humor was a form of expression and he believed that even serious films should be laughed at.

Based on Alexander Grin’s Jessie and Morgiana, this film explores the hatred between two sisters, Klara and Viktoria, both played by Iva Janžurová. Yes, their father may have given all of his fortune to Klara, but Viktoria is left with a small castle of her own. But the final push toward the overwhelming resentment  Viktoria feels is when her sister falls for the man she loves, Lieutenant Marek.

That’s when she begins to work alongside Otylie, a gypsy sorceress, to create a poison that no one will ever discover has killed her sister. As Klara grows ill, Otylie takes advantage and begins to blackmail Viktoria, who responds by literally casting her into the sea.

And while Klara is always clad in white and seemingly the damsel in distress, her sister is forever in black but worse, unable to escape not only the guilt and shame, but even the ghost of Otylie who will never leave her even in death.

So who is Morgiana? Why, she’s the cat. A cat so essential that she has her own point of view shots throughout the film.

The write-up for this film promises that the poison given to Klara open her mind to “kaleidoscopic hallucinations” and that is, if anything, less hyperbole than it should be. This movie practically explodes and delivers a cosmic freakout filled with ancient Tarot cards, distorted lenses and a deluge of only the fanciest of clothes (the hat budget on this movie had to be excessive), the most extravagant of makeup and filled with sonic fury, delivered by Lubos Fiser, who also composed the music for Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.

This movie is drugs and I want to overdose.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.