Arcana (1972)

2.5 out of 5

An unscrupulous fake spiritualist and her son who has the gift lead a strange oedipal home life in this barely penetrable horror drama from Giulio Questi, the man responsible for the oddest of the clones of Django.

Guerrilla film-making techniques place an unsuspecting public, studied with microscopic detail, within the action. The feature crumbles, slowly but surely before, in the spirit of dialectics, it all collapses in a strange heap of machine-gun fire and discordant violin played by an unexplained wandering musician. Also a backstreet abortion is conducted, a dwarf delivers a dress and a donkey is winched, by rope, up the side of a house. Even the question of whether donkey teeth possess the power is left open. Nevertheless, the reaction of random members of the public to the mindbending shenanigans is, in itself, worth the price of admission.

The preamble describes the feature as a game of cards, but, if this is the case, then it is surely a game of cards played under the influence of psilocybin.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics