written by Yoshiyuki Fukuda, Eiichi Yamamoto, based on the novel La sorcière by Jules Michelet
directed by Eiichi Yamamoto
by Walter Chaw The completion of Osamu Tezuka's "Animerama," a trilogy of early-'70s erotica initially imagined as a tie-in to that era's "pink films" that eventually applied their boundary-testing to its own form and function, Belladonna of Sadness is the only one of the three pictures to, ironically, feature no direct involvement from Tezuka. Instead, longtime collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto takes the reins and, in this loose adaptation of a non-fiction tract on witchcraft and Satanism, produces the headwaters for everything from hentai to Andrzej Zulawski's Possession. It's a template that parallels Ralph Bakshi's dabbling in ani-porn, a thing that runs on evocations of Roman Polanski in not just its function and form, but also the drawing of its heroine, Jeanne, as the very image of Sharon Tate. The fate of pretty blondes is a primary concern of Polanski's in this period--no less so enacted through this saga of a woman, raped and humiliated before, in the end, like Yeats's Leda, she takes on the power of her patriarchal tormentors to exact precise, poetic vengeance.