Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Female Comic Strip Character Movie No. 1: KISS ME KILL ME a.k.a BABA YAGA (VALENTINA)

Crepax's Valentina and actress De Funes
This is the movie that instigated this series of post. I had mentioned in a previous post the Valentina comic strip by Guido Crepax. I found this movie in a Mill Creek movie set, thinking it may have been a giallo film.

The comic book version

Most American comic strip/comic book adaptations are aimed at kids. The average child wouldn't be interested in this because Valentina is an Italian comic character. That is good, because this is not a children's movie. This is an adult foreign film. While a very good adaptation of Crepax's artwork and story, the best way to describe it to the average person is a kinky, psychedelic mind-f**k (Pardon my French).

Isabelle De Funes as Valentina

Valentina is played by Isabelle De Funes. She is a cute, hip, Marxist, magazine photographer, who is almost killed trying to save a cute, little dog from being smashed by an on-coming Rolls Royce. The driver is a mysterious woman called Baba Yaga, played by 60s American sex symbol Carroll Baker. As you can see from the picture of the comic, Baker looks nothing like the character in the comic book. Then again, do you want to see someone who looks like Crepax's Baba Yaga naked?

Carroll Baker is Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga shows up the next day at Valentina's studio, fondles her (wait for it) camera and invites her to home. After Baba Yaga leaves, the model Valentina is working with tells her that she thinks Baba Yaga is a lesbian. At one point, Baba Yaga steals the tab from Valentina's garter belt lick and suck on it like a Charms Blow Pop.

Can you get one of these at Toys R Us?

Valentina goes to Baba Yaga's spooky old house with a hole in the floor that Baba Yaga says is the entrance to Hell. Baba Yaga gives Valentina a doll, named Annette, that looks like an American Girl doll dressed like a dominatrix. Valentina begins having nightmares about being naked in front of Nazis. She also dreams that Annette turns into a real dominatrix and begins whipping her.

She tells her film director boyfriend, played by George Eastman, that she believes Baba Yaga is a witch. He doesn't believe it until the people Valentina photographs die suddenly. I'll stop here rather than spoil the ending.

Louise Brooks - Valentina's role model

Some interesting trivia about the Valentina strip. Guido Crepax modeled Valentina after an American silent movie actress named Louise Brooks. Her autobiography makes Valentina's exploits look like a Peanuts special. And speaking of Charlie Brown and the gang...

Good Grief! Valentina is naked again

Valentina first appeared in an Italian comic book called Linus that featured Peanuts reprints. She was the Lois Lane to a Superman-like character named Neutron. Eventually, Crepax dropped Neutron and Valentina became the focus of the comic strip.

The theme song is an instrumental entitled "Open Spaces" by Piero Umiliani, the man responsible for the song "Mah-Nah-Nah-Nah," which was made famous in this country by Jim Henson's Muppets.

The story was remade for a TV version of Valentina in the 90s, but it is not as good. It plays too much like a soap opera.

If you like Italian horror films and comic strip history, check this out. Granted, it is not for everyone, but it is interesting.


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