The two YouTube videos embedded below together form the 1962 documentary La Taranta, which investigates a Southern Italian possession cult: Tarantism. The film, directed by Gianfranco Mingozzi, documents this fascinating peasant religious formation in which the victims of the bite of the mythical Tarantula require a ritual exorcism of frenetic dance, music and colors.
Even if you do not speak Italian, do watch the film, for it is convulsively beautiful. In my mind, its 19 minutes assemble Luis Buñuel's 1933 documentary on the grinding poverty of Spanish peasants Las Hurdes, Herk Harvey's 1962 existential horror film Carnival of Souls and Jean Rouch's 1955 documentary on the Hauka possession cult Les Maitres Fous. The documentary was filmed in a black and white which is so funereal it is almost Xasthuresque, and its music - the famous Tarantella - is haunting. In short: my highest recommendations!
The next post will provide indepth material on Tarantism!
Some readers of this blog might be familiar with Mingozzi's name from the 1974 nunsploitation film Flavia, la Monaca Musulmana.