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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Macchie Solari

Italy 1975
D: Armando Crispino
P: Leonardo Pescardo//St & Sc: Armando Crispino, Lucio Battistrada//DP: Carlo Carlini//M: Ennio Morricone.
Cast: Mimsy Farmer, Ray Lovelock, Barry Primus, Massimo Serrato, Angela Goodwin, Gaby Wagner, Ernesto Colli.

All over Rome, people are committing suicide. Dr. Simona (Mimsy Farmer) is working on a method of study that will be able to determine whether a suicide was faked or not. When a neighbor of her's (who was also involved with her father, played by Massimo Serrato) is found dead on a local beach, a victim of suicide, Simona, along with her boyfriend Ed (Ray Lovelock), discover she was actually murdered. The victim's brother, Father Lennox (Barry Primus), is a creepy individual whom was a former race car driver. When his car spun out of control and killed a dozen people, he went temporarily crazy, only to become a priest after a  stay at an insane asylum. He becomes the main suspect as more and more people, including her father are done away with. By film's end, he will actually struggle with the real killer in an effort to save Simona from his clutches.

Farmer's performance can be likened to the sound made when dragging your fingernails across a blackboard. She's in a constant state of irritation and suffers from a bad case of frigidity (Ed refers to her as his "Little ice cube."). Ennio Morricone's score picks up on this as his constant use of a woman's voice to simulate an orgasm reinforces her state of mind. That said, when Mimsy does decide to do the nasty, she (and Crispino) cuts loose as the sex scenes are quite graphic. The gore is, as you might expect with a film centering around the exhumation of dead bodies, also no holds barred. In a perfect bit of type casting, my old favorite, Ernesto Colli (see the review of DEADLY INHERITANCE), plays Evo, the necrophiliac morgue worker to perfection. Finally, most reference books list the running time of this film as 120 minutes which I dispute. Although the version out here as AUTOPSY is cut at 83 minutes, the Euro- versions from France and Italy clock in at 100 and in my opinion are the full length ones. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Film Dope #1

This is one of my favorite film magazines from my youth. A British publication, it listed filmmakers alphabetically and tried to include as complete a filmography as was possible at the time. Download the rare first issue here. Please note the first page is missing. This issue is currently selling for $39.95 on!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Lizard in a Woman's skin

Italy 1971
D: Lucio Fulci.
P: Edmondo Amati for Atlantida Films, International Apollo, & Les Films Corona//St & Sc: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, Jose Martinez Molla, & André Tranche//DP: Luigi Kuveiller//E: Vincenzo Tomassi//M: Ennio Morricone//Art Direction: Maurizio Chiari//Makeup: Carlo Rambaldi
Cast: Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel, Alberto De Mendoza, Anita Strindberg, Jorge Rigaud, Leo Genn, Silvia Monti.

Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) tells her psychiatrist about her dream of murdering her next door neighbor Julia (Anita Strindberg). When the neighbor turns up dead and Carol's fur coat and dagger are found near the body, Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker) arrests her. Her husband (Jean Sorel) and father (Leo Genn) are both lawyers and base their case on the testimony of Carol's psychiatrist (Jorge Rigaud), Dr. Kerr. It allows her to be released on bail where she is soon menaced by a red-haired hippie that also appeared in her dream. More deaths occur (including Carol's stepdaughter and father) before we discover the real reason behind the killings.

Stanley Baker's role as Corvin  redefines the term "wooden performance" with his appearance in this one. Geez, what a stiff!! Mostly known for its infamous dog "evisceration" scene by Carlo Rambaldi, the film features Fulci's truly paranoiac vision of how the Sixties generation screwed up. His laughably unenlightened view of what constitutes a bad LSD trip is comparable to REEFER MADNESS during the thirties. There are a lot of highlights anyway, including another fine score by Morricone and a superlative performance by Florinda Bolkan as the suspected murderess. Anita Strindberg as the lesbian/murder victim shows her adept at playing sluts, bitches, saints, murderess or victim. Fulci's shining moments as a director come during the dream sequences. They are quite effective in this topnotch Giallo by a director who went on to bigger, but not necessarily better things.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Italy 1965
D: Ernesto Gastaldi & Vittorio Salerno.
P: Ernesto Gastaldi & Vittorio Salerno for Nucleo Film//Sc: Ernesto Gastaldi & Vittorio Salerno//DP: Romolo Garroni//E: George Money//M: Carlo Rustichelli.
Cast: Giancarlo Giannini, Mara Maryl(Maria Chianetta), Dominique Boschero, Alan Collins.

As a boy Christian sees his father murder his mistress. Twenty years later he takes his new bride Helene back to where the murder took place. His lawyer Paul (Alan Collins) and his wife Brigitte ( Mara Maryl) accompany them. Christian (Giannini) becomes convinced that Paul is trying to drive him insane so that he can take control of the inheritance. Too late, he discovers that actually Helene (Dominique Boschero) and Brigitte are the ones attempting to make him think he's insane.

Mara Maryl could almost be considered a co-auteur of this film as she wrote the story the film's based on and co-stars as Brigitte. Parts of this film  turned up almost twenty years later in Gastaldi's  & Salerno's NOTTORNO CON GRIDA. The footage was tinted and used in a completely different context. Stylish direction by Gastaldi & Salerno makes one wish they had done more work in that position, rather than concentrate on cranking out screenplays. Giancarlo Giannini was still a decade away from finding fame with Italian art-house fave director Lina Wertmuller, yet even here he hams it up for the camera. The B&W cinematography certainly helps to maintain the film's atmosphere  of insanity. Rustichelli's score is one of his better efforts with a special emphasis on using an organ and saxaphone to create tension. The fact that only 4 people appear in the film certainly indicates the low budget, however Gastaldi and Salerno use the exteriors surrounding the gothic-like abode well to offset this. With the financial failure of this film, it sent both co-directors back to the salt mines of screenplay writing which was a shame, based on the quality of the presentation here. Salerno (whose brother was famous actor Enrico Maria Salerno) resurfaced 8 years later with a duo of excellent thriller/sleaze affairs: NO, THE CASE IS HAPPILY RESOLVED and SAVAGE 3.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Murder Clinic

Italy 1965
D: Lionello De Felice & Elio Scardamaglia
P: Elio & Francesco Scardamaglia for Leone Film//St & Sc: Ernesto Gastaldi, Luciano Martino//DP: Marcello Masciocchi//E: Richard Hartley//M: Francesco De Masi//Art D: Walter Patriarci//Costumes: Albert Miller//Makeup: Massimo Giustini.
Cast: William Berger, Francoise Prevost, Mary Young (Anna Maria Polani), Barbara Wilson, Delphine Maurin, Philippe Hersent, Harriet White, Massimo Righi, Patricia Carr, Ann Sherman, Germano Longo.

Mary is a new nurse at the Vance Clinic. The facility is run by Dr. Robert Vance and his wife Elizabeth and is home to several mentally ill patients. In the woods nearby, Claudine, a thief, escapes her captors and is taken into the clinic by a sympathetic Dr. Vance. As she stays there, she hears strange noises in the attic. Upon investigation, she discovers a disfigured woman. Claudine begins to suspect foul play occurring at the clinic and tries to bribe the good doctor. Patients are being terrorized by the disfigured woman and Claudine is found dead. Dr. Vance reveals that the woman upstairs is his wife's sister. He was to marry her when a jealous Elizabeth caused her to fall into a lime pit. A storm is raging outdoors as vengeance finally getting its reward that very night.

The film is very much a classic Gothic Giallo with both a fine performance by Berger and effective direction by Scardmaglia. The sad thing is Scardmaglia never directed another film due to his producing duties. Based on this film, fans of Italian horror were denied some potentially great works in the genre. Berger's performance is amazing, especially when you consider what a cad his character really is, yet by the film's conclusion you're rooting for him all the way. The fact that he dubbed his own voice really helps, a luxury not always afforded to those toiling in the low budget foreign horror field. The score by Francesco De Masi is a great improvement over the usual composers of Gothic Cinema, Aldo Piga and Roman Vlad. Their works harkens back to the old fashioned music found in the Universal films of the thirties and severely dates such films as I VAMPIRI and SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES. De Masi's melodies are beautiful to listen to and his suspense motifs, quite effective. Today this film is all but forgotten, no doubt partially due to the fact that its director never made another film and there being no legitimate DVD release. With no one to champion a body of work, it usually results in being ignored or forgotten.