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Blood Orgy of the She Devils

company: Occult See
year: 1972
runtime: 76′
country: USA
director: Ted V. Mikels
cast: Lila Zaborin, Victor Izay,
Tom Pace, Leslie McRae,
William Bagdad
writer: Ted V. Mikels
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Professional witch Mara (Lila Zaborin) has quite a set-up in her dreamy Californian country palace. Apart from leading a coven of scantily-clad women, a black drummer and her shaggy gift from Satan, Toruke (William Bagdad), in interpretive dance orgies with added human sacrifice, she also works as a medium, helps people experience the deaths of their past incarnations and reads cards. Probably all in the name of finding new female members and male victims for her dance coven, but who really knows what’s going on in her mind (director Ted V. Mikels certainly doesn’t)?

And that’s still not everything the good woman does for a living. Mara also hires her black magical powers out to some shady customers looking for a very special professional killer to get rid of the UN ambassador for Rhodesia. It seems that talking to demons and drowning a photo in a very large cognac glass is all that is needed to make the poor guy croak.

It is a little unfortunate for Mara and Toruke that her clients in crime don’t like the thought of having any living accessories to their crimes and shoot the two (and a random coven member) dead. That’s only a minor set-back for Mara, though. Shortly after being killed, she just turns into a green mist and then into an adorable black cat and revives Toruke (no luck for the poor coven member) by talking to him. It does not take long until her would-be killers get a taste of their own medicine through more entertaining and practical magickal workings.

While all this has been going on, the film has also treated us to the adventures of two very old students, Mark (Tom Pace) and Lorraine (Leslie McRae, or however her name was spelt that week). They are getting quite impressed by the witch, and even the raised eyebrows of their teacher, white magician Dr. Helsford (Victor Izay), can’t keep them away from the witch’s house.


This can only end in a climactic black (dancing) sabbath, an anti-climactic magical duel and the death of a rubber bat.

I had been able to protect myself from the siren song of the films of Ted V. Mikels for quite some time, but – like it happens in the film for Mark and Lorraine – it is now too late to save my soul from Mikels’ (probably diabolical) influence. As is the case with the director’s much more mean-spirited brother in weirdly obsessive and strangely compulsive no-budget film Andy Milligan, followers of mainstream conceptions of palatable filmmaking need not apply when it comes to Mikels’ work; sane people shouldn’t either.

They’d probably be repelled by the absence of narrative logic, the static camera work, the stilted and at times very silly dialogue, and the decidedly non-actorly acting, anyway. It is probably for the better.

Obviously, the less depraved movie fan’s loss is my gain. The acting might be bad, but I found it utterly enjoyable and oh so very enthusiastic. Especially Lila Zaborin as main witch Mara lays it on as thick as her own make-up, which is of course absolutely fitting for someone playing a super witch with the awesome power of incessantly blabbering occult nonsense. When I think about the sort of people active in the guru biz in the real world, I’m not even sure anymore that what Zaborin does here should be called over-acting. After all, cult leaders aren’t usually working their mojo by being subtle.


While it is true that Blood Orgy doesn’t have much internal logic or sensible plot progression (oh, alright, I’ll be honest, the film doesn’t have a plot at all!), there still is a lot of stuff happening on screen. When Mikels isn’t showing us a pop version of a dance-crazy black sabbath as choreographed by Bob Fosse’s acid-loving spiritual twin, he delights us with other occult cheese of the highest quality, with one moment more absurd than the one that came before. The director also shows an excellent hand at filling his film with telling (that is to say, very odd) details, like the Winnetou-like Hollywood-Injun speak Mara’s main spirit guide speaks in with utter disregard of good taste or the poor actors who have to react to her without falling over laughing. These moments of very special early 70s occultism mania are interrupted by “interesting” discussions about witchcraft, all probably taken verbatim from a cheap non-fiction paperback about the subject Mikels bought in a grocery store, and acted out in the puzzled tones of people who haven’t the slightest clue what they are talking about and most assuredly don’t know half of the words they are using.

To make the film even more fantastic, there are also hypnotic regression sequences Mikels cleverly uses to pad his film out to the required running time and add a little bit of the important spice of regular violence to it. Sure, these scenes only derail the plodding narrative further, but how could I complain about a bunch of very white, probably middle-class Californians pretending to be Native Americans and torturing Tom Pace to death?

And as if all this weren’t enough, the movie also features (and I quote) “very special electronic music” composed by Carl Zittrer, the man who is also responsible for the excellent abuse of electronic devices in the films of Bob Clark. His score here consists of random warbling noises of the highest order of random warbliness and is therefore utterly perfect for the film it belongs to.

I suspect that if you have any interest in the products of the late 60s/early 70s obsession with the occult, or have even a little love for cheap-skate weirdo filmmaking (and if not, why are you reading this, unless you’re my mum?), Blood Orgy of the She Devils will be right up your alley. In other words, this damn thing looks like it was made just for me.

For more bizarre movie goodness, be sure
to visit Denis’ excellent review blog The Horror!?

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