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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Etruscan Kills Again

L'Etrusco Uccide Ancora
Sales Title: The Etruscan Kills Again
US Title: The Dead Are Alive
1972 Italy-Yugoslavia-Germany
D: Armando Crispino
P: Camillo Teti for Mondial Film (Rome), Inex Film (Belgrade), & CGC Filmkunst (Berlin)//St & Sc: Armando Crispino & Lucio Battistrada//DP: Erico Menczer//E: Roberto Gallitti/M: Riz Ortolani//Art D: Benito Burchiellard//Costumes: Sabatelli//Color
Cast: Alex Cord, Samantha Eggar, John Marley, Horst Frank, Enzo Tarasci, Enzo Cerusica, Carlo De Mejo, Daniela Gurini, Vladn Milasinovi, Cristiane Von Blank, Nadja Tilley.

Professor Jason Porter and his crew have discovered an unknown Etruscan burial sight. Inside are paintings representing Tuchulcha, an ancient Etruscan demon. Nearby, a couple making love inside an archelogical exhibit are brutally murdered with a tool taken from Professor Porter's work area. Jason's project is being funded by Nikos Samarakis, a megalomaniac composer/conductor who, it just so happens, is living with Jason's ex-wife Myra. Another victim turns up with a pair of shoes from Samarakis' latest production, throwing suspicion his way. Samarakis' son Igor barely survives when the killer decides to attack him and his girlfriend (she was not so lucky). The police suspect Jason since he is an ex-alcoholic with a violent past (he beat Myra which is why she left him). Nikos dies from a heart attack and leaves behind a confession, but it's obvious he's protecting someone. Jason and Myra discover who the killer is but almost pay for it with their lives.

One thing can be said for films that try and disguise the fact that they are part of the Giallo tradition, they are all failures. THE ETRUSCAN KILLS AGAIN attempts to have you believe the killer is an ancient demon, returning from the dim past to wreck havoc on the living. What the film ends up accomplishing is upsetting the audience by misleading them. As if this weren't enough, the film suffers from many other problems. It's peopled with a bunch of unlikable people who spend the majority of the film acting like red herrings. The only character halfway sympathetic is the police inspector played by Enzo Tarascia (see THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE for a completely different type of performance by Tarasci). The film also leans too heavily on its soap opera type origins as each character suffers from emotional flaws and endlessly rehash these problems till we are sick of them. There are only so many times we want to hear about Porter's alcoholism. At times we feel like we're watching a propaganda film for Alcoholics Anonymous. The Etruscan burial grounds are impressively used as sights for the murders as DOP Erico Menczer helps Crispino breathe some life into the mostly dull surroundings. Crispino has proven with MACCHIE SOLARIE he knows how to make a successful Giallo. I have to believe the derailment of this film can be credited to it's over wordy script. The only other bright spot is Christiane (A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD) Von Blanc's nude scene.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Enigma Rosso

Enigma Rosso
Sales Title: Red Rings Of Fear
US Video Title: Trauma
D: Alberto Negrin

P: Leonardo Pescarolo for Damio Cinematografica (Rome), CCC Filmkunst (Berlin & CIPI Cinematografica (Madrid) (P Manager: Antonio Mazza)//St & Sc: Marcello Coccia, Massimo Dallamano, Franco Perrini, Stefano Ubezio, Alberto Negrin & Peter Berling//DP: Edoardo Noe//E: Paolo Boccio//M: Riz Ortolani//Color
Cast: Fabio Testi, Christine Kaufmann, Ivan Desny, Jack Taylor, Fausta Avelli, Bruno Alessandro.

A 17 year old female student is found dead with the lower half of her anatomy torn open by a sharp, phallic weapon (ie a dildo). Inspector Di Salvo (Fabio Testi) is given the case to solve but is told to not make waves as the girl was from a rich, influential family. His investigation reveals that the girl, along with her three classmates were involved in a sex party ring. Rich businessmen would pay highly for the services. Two separate murder attempts are taking place. The remaining girls are being threatened and the sleaze-bags behind procuring the girls are also being knocked off. Testi solves both plot lines as one murderer commits suicide while the other is  stopped before successfully snuffing anyone.

Note who had a hand in the screenplay. Massimo Dallamano had already directed two thrillers set at a girl's boarding school, WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO SO LANGE? and WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO OUR DAUGHTERS?, so why did Negrini (who would go on to make big budget TV fare like IL DULCE with Bob Hoskins) direct? Well unfortunately Dallamano died right after filming STUNT SQUAD and so though he was slated to direct this,  didn’t live long enough to do so. Jack Taylor has a nice role as the ferret-like owner of a clothing store who helps reel in the girls. He meets a fitting end. The murder sequences are graphic and the shower scenes numerous, but by now the concept was showing signs of wear and tear. At least Ortolani scored enthusiastically (especially the main theme). Helga Liné appears in an unbilled cameo as the mother of the first victim. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Two Faces of Fear

I Due Volte Della Paura

Two Faces of Fear
D: Tulio De Micheli
P: Anacleto Amadio & Faustino Ocaña for BRC Produzione Film (Rome) & Tecisa (Madrid)//St & SC: Pedro Maro Herrero & Mario Di Nardo//DP: Manuel Rojas//E: Angel Serrano//M: Franco Micalizzi//Art D: Gastone & Francisco Canet//Color
Cast: Fernando Rey, Luciana Paluzzi, Eduardo Fajardo, Manuel Zarzo, Luis Davila, Antonio Del Real, Carla Mancini, Teresa Guaydá Gonzales, Dinorah Ayala, Emilio Portela, and Anita Strindberg.

Dr. Michele Azzini, a famous surgeon at the Carli Clinic, is planning on quitting and taking a new post at a hospital in Milano. This is causing Elena Carli a large amount of stress as Azzini is clearly the main reason for the success of her business. When Azzini is found shot to death, it appears everyone working at the clinic had a motive for knocking him off. There's Elena, who didn't want him to leave; Michael, Elena's husband who's having an affair with Azzini's girlfriend Paola, and she is also a suspect since it's her name that is listed as the beneficiary of Azzini's will. Inspector Nardi (who suffers many extreme measures in an attempt to quit smoking) is assigned to ferret out the killer. Further plot complications ensue, such as Elena having open heart surgery, performed by her suspicious husband, to save her life before Nardi can solve the case.

This medical thriller is a rather bloodless affair, except for the graphic real-life open heart surgery footage inserted during Paluzzi's character's operation, it depends on plot complications and character motivation to see it through to completion. I'm afraid neither the script or actors involved elevate this beyond the merely tedious. Fernando Rey as Nardi certainly succeeds with his character in keeping the audience entertained, but the soap opera situations degenerate the film's atmosphere to that of a boring, made-for-TV affair. Director De Micheli hasn't done much in his career to cause most people to give his films a second (or even first) look. The goofy Paul Naschy monsterfest, ASSIGNMENT TERROR, is the only film made by De Micheli worth seeing. The cast looks good on paper, but are hampered by the film's sterile, hospital setting and the fact that there are no stylistic flourishes in the two murder sequences, all but sink the film. Franco Micalizzi's score certainly owes a lot to the style of Bruno Nicolai (much like Ennio Morricone's acknowledged influence on the music of Spaghetti Westerns, Nicolai is the king when it comes to setting the musical mood of the Giallo), but does little more than try to make the narrative more exciting than it really is. A waste of talent in front of and behind the camera.

Friday, August 1, 2014


... Dopo Di Che Uccide Il Maschio E Lo Divora
US Title: Marta
Spanish-Italian 1971
D: José Antonio Nieves Conde
P: Jose Frade//St & Sc: Ricardo Lopez Aranda & Juan José Alonso Millan//DP: Ennio Guarnieri//E:Maruja Soriano//M: Piero Piccioni//Art D: Roman Calatayud//Color
Cast: Marisa Mell, Stephen Boyd, Howard Ross, Jorge Rigaud, Isa Miranda,Jesus Puente, Melida Quiraga.

Miquel lives alone with his butterfly collection and his pack of dogs, who patrol the grounds of his estate. One day they trap a woman named Marta who Miquel ends up saving. It just so happens that she has escaped from a mental institution and oddly enough, resembles Miquel's first wife who disappeared two years ago. Her attempts to seduce him fail as he's tormented by something from his past. The longer Marta stays there she becomes obsessed with investigating all the rooms of the house. When she begins wearing Miquel's wife's clothes, his reaction is one of violence as he flashes back to an incident that resulted in the death of his domineering mother. More twists are revealed (such as who Marta really is) before the film ends with the arrival of the police.

This film has quite a few similarities to Hitchcock's Psycho. The lead (especially as played by Stephen Boyd) character has a serious problem involving his mother (he caused her death), collects and displays his beetle collection (as opposed to the stuffed birds on display in Psycho), and finally, a woman enters his life resulting in attempted seduction and death. Unfortunately, the principal actors (Boyd and Mell) are nowhere near in the same league as Tony Perkins and Janet Leigh. Boyd is especially guilty of an over-the-top style, so that there's no sympathy when his downfall arrives. You wish it had happened much earlier. Marisa Mell has nothing to do but look sexy and is stuck wearing the same brown bra and panties (was the budget so low they couldn't afford a change?) throughout the film to the point where you have to wonder about her character's personal hygiene.