TRAGIC CEREMONY (1972) Reviews and overview

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Tragic Ceremony is a 1972 Italian-Spanish horror feature film directed by Riccardo Freda (Murder Obsession; The Iguana with a Tongue of Fire; The Horrible Doctor HichcockCaltiki) from a screenplay by Mario Bianchi. The movie stars Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave), Luciana Paluzzi, Luigi Pistilli, Giovanni Petrucci and Tony Isbert.

Stelvio Cipriani composed the soundtrack score. Carlo Rambaldi provided the special makeup effects.

The Italian title is Estratto dagli archivi segreti della polizia di una capitale europea (“Extract from the Secret Police Archives of a European Capital”).

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Sheltering from a summer storm, four hippies (led by Camille Keaton), take refuge in the seemingly abandoned Villa Alexander… unaware that their hosts are staging a satanic sacrifice.

When the ceremony ends in a blood-soaked orgy of violence, the hippies flee the villa… only to find themselves accused of committing a Manson-style massacre…


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“Tragic Ceremony has some interesting ideas and creative direction but the storyline is horribly padded and drawn out, the special effects are comically woeful and the best atmosphere the film builds up, at the climax, is ruined by an utterly inane denouement…” Timothy Young, Mondo Esoterica

“Not terrible, but definitely trite, Riccardo Freda’s Tragic Ceremony is the kind of loose and insubstantial kind of movie that plays on drive-in screens in the background of better movies. Still, there are a few bits of note, thanks to some great effects work.” Horror Digital

“It’s a slow build up until they arrive to the house, but after that the pace is pretty decent. It’s exactly on the border of sixties Italian gothic horror and a modern, gory slasher, which might be one reason why Freda never felt comfortable with it. The highlight is the massacre, which even by today’s standards is impressive.” Schmollywood Babylon

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Tragic Ceremony isn’t one of director Riccardo Freda’s better horror films, but does at least create and maintain a suitably edgy atmosphere, with some breathtaking use of light and shadow, seen particularly in scenes set within the Villa Alexander. It also has a great score by Stelvio Cipriani working in its favour.” Scream magazine

“Clearly inspired by the then-recent Sharon Tate murders, Ceremony can’t decide whether it wants to be straight gothic horror, a supernatural ghost story, or even police procedural. So it ends up being a bit of all three, unfortunately not to its credit. Keaton and Isbert are okay eye candy, but that’s not enough to make you forget the loopy plot, poor pacing and kooky, out-of-left-field ending.” The Terror Trap

“The “European Capital” of the original title is presumably London, but the film was clearly shot in Europe: Neither the appearance of “Chief Commissioner Ferguson of Scotland Yard” at the Villa Alexander crime scene nor crediting Freda as “Robert Hampton” makes the putative UK setting more convincing.” TV Guide

“When it shifts gears in the final third it uneasily bumps up against the “dark and stormy night” mood of earlier only to limp towards a muddled finish set in an asylum where the screenwriters have a doctor character basically explain the entire plot, and end twist, to everyone. The movie itself is sloppily pieced together and was eventually disowned by Freda…” The Video Graveyard


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