Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Venomous Vixens: Kali Hansa

Kali Hansa, born Marisol Hernández, sort of put a spell on me with her role as Tunika in Amando de Ossorio’s THE NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS. I would have dreams that were kind of like my own imagined sequel to the film, where, in a sickly state, I would travel to the African forest where this film took place. Knowing my time was running short, due to some sort of terminal illness, I would travel up a mountain and to a place where I knew I would find Tunika, in her vampire form. Longing to end my suffering, I would find her in a shallow moonlit river where she would welcome me, and through an act of vampiric intercourse, she would make me like her, curing me, making me immortal, and also inflicting her curse upon me. 

Thus is the effect her presence in THE NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS had on me. With her constantly lingering in my mind, I eventually viewed several more films that she was in, sometimes credited as Gaby Herman or Kali Hansen. I was slightly saddened to find out that she was usually just a supporting/minor character and had an acting career that didn’t really take off, and it seemed to have ended circa 1976 after shooting a hardcore porno for Jess Franco, WHITE SKIN BLACK THIGHS and an erotic comedy, GIRLS IN THE NIGHT TRAFFIC. Despite usually having small roles and frequently being killed off, she visually stood out the most amongst other characters and gave off an ‘Oh-wow, who’s-that?’ impression. She apparently vanished after filming her last movie. She is from Cuba and was the girlfriend of Alberto Dalbes.

(Rumor bin: According to Jess Franco she moved back to Cuba to use her exceptional strength to fight against Fidel Castro!!!

For this tribute to Kali Hansa, and possibly a new series for AT THE MANSION OF MADNESS (Venomous Vixens), I’ve organized a few thoughts and images from a selection of some of her films.


THE NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS (1973): 
 
This is the film most remember Kali Hansa from, and though Ossorio’s jungle vampire adventure isn’t a masterpiece, it is still a fun ride for Ossorio fans. This is because it consists of a few characteristics that are akin to Ossorio’s BLIND DEAD films, such as zombie natives that rise and move very slowly. Also, the female leopard vampires that frolic through a day-for-night forest in dreamlike slow motion had that alternate-plane-of-existence feel that The Blind Dead on horseback give off.

It shouldn’t be surprising when I say that Kali Hansa is what I loved most about this film. With her tall exotic look and hypnotic beauty, she enriched the film significantly, making it much more memorable than it would have been otherwise. There’s a good love scene between her and Simón Andreu (THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE) that was shot in good taste, and the different outfits she wears are classy and sexy to the extreme (my favorite was the Spanish dancer look). I’ve always had a thing for metal armbands, and with her long muscle toned arms, the armband she dons fits her well. I didn’t sense Oscar worthy acting, but she wasn’t laughably bad either, in fact she possessed a good deal of energy and conviction; showing a strong side when her character, Tunika, ends up as a sort of ‘final girl’. She also admirably stabs and kills her would be rapist.






DEMON WITCH CHILD aka THE POSSESSED (1975):  

The Exorcistsploitation genre was never really my favorite, and I’m usually turned off when I realize I’m watching an EXORCIST knockoff. However, there are some that I am fond of that manage to stand on their own, such as NIGHT CHILD, ANTICHRIST, and believe it or not DEMON WITCH CHILD, which is mostly because I thought it was insane, real ballsy, and had that mix of old-fashioned and innovative elements that I enjoy from Amando de Ossorio.
   
Kali plays the role of an evil gypsy, in her second film for Ossorio. Here, she’s over-the-top evil, spouting amusing satanic nonsense and deceptively offering a cursed relic to the young female character, as a gift of sorts, resulting in the poor child getting possessed by the spirit of an awfully evil old witch. Not a largely memorable role for Kali, but she does look lovely in her gypsy outfit, though.



  


THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF (1973):  

While I still haven’t seen all of Jess Franco’s DR. ORLOFF films (I’ve seen quite a few, though), THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF has become my favorite, maybe because I’m more of an early ‘70s kind of guy. The film is slow, but the plot is actually pretty good. Kali plays a real sinister woman, though not of the silly evil type, as in DEMON WITCH CHILD, but more seriously disturbing. She acts and looks the part well as a greedy murdering noble woman, Lady Flora Comfort, scheming to collect an inheritance all for herself. A scene where she beats a family member in the bathtub with a shower head is actually pretty intense. I also liked the way she carried another character up a flight of stairs in her arms. What a powerful woman! 






COUNTESS PERVERSE (1973): 

Countess Perverse is a pretty surreal cannibal film complete with epic sex scenes and human hunting. The film delivers during the climatic hunt between Alice Arno and Lina Romay. When Arno shows up in the nude with her bow and arrows to the sound of animal effects, it is like: Hell-Yeah!

Here, Kali is more or less the screaming victim, and her performance tells me that she is better as a vixen. She does just fine as a cannibalized victim, but I honestly thought she rose to greater heights as a villainess. Maybe it's because I like seeing her in charge rather than being taken charge of. It was almost like she was just a disposable character. Though, It is fun watching her in heels stumbling over a bed of rocks and up an enormous flight of stairs while wearing the latest designer wear (not the type of attire one wears when exploring a secret island).






SINNER: DIARY OF A NYMPHOMANIAC (1973):  

As it stands today, SINNER: DIARY OF A NYMPHOMANIAC is my favorite Jess Franco film, which surprises me being that it is not even a horror film. Kali Hansa plays one of the lesbian love interests of the film’s main character, Linda Vargas-- an underrated performance by Montserrat Prous. In this film, Kali is at her most erotic and uninhibited,  and she shows us what real rock n’ roll dancing is.


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WHITE SKIN BLACK THIGHS (1976): 

This one is practically a remake of SINNER: DIARY OF A NYMPHOMANIAC, with Kali Hansa in a very similar role. The film is full of hardcore inserts and most of the time stand in actors are used, but here Kali films her own hardcore scenes with co-star Eric Falk.









GIRLS IN THE NIGHT TRAFFIC (1976):








 

Here, she is with Jess Franco on the set of an uncompleted movie, THE MYSTERY OF THE RED CASTLE, circa 1973. Image source: EL FRANCONOMICON
  


4 comments:

  1. #1: Sounds like one hell of a dream.
    #2: Please make Venomous Vixens a series here, I would wait with anticipation for every coming issue.
    #3: It seems Ossorio himself along with several of the actresses he favored didn't have as lucrative of a career as they deserved. (Lone Fleming for example)

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    Replies
    1. I just realized that my dream has a few similarities to Jean Rollin’s LIPS OF BLOOD, though I hadn’t seen that film yet when I had the dream.

      My initial thoughts with Venomous Vixens was to have something extra that I could publish in between my usual 2 articles a month, but this ended up being an elaborate article itself. I was at first thinking maybe a short bio and several images. I’m still happy with how it turned out.

      Lone Fleming’s screams helped give TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD one of the best horror endings. Sort of like Daria Nicolodi’s screams at the end of TENEBRE.

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    2. Ha! Now I really need to see Lips of Blood to see what you mean.

      Yeah this is just as long as your reviews, and you have almost mini-reviews of each film within. Whatever way you do it, it would be great to read an article on an overlooked horror actress. Plus you have a great gallery of stills to pad it.

      That thought just made me realize that I haven't watched an Argento film in a while now. I better get to re-watching Tenebre, Suspiria, and Inferno, I've been watching too many 21st century films as of late...and that rarely leads to anything more than disappointment.

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