Best known for his gritty crime films and, for better or worse, cannibal movies, Italian director Umberto Lenzi spent his early career making fun swashbuckling adventures. Queen of the Seas was the first of them, and it’s a fun tale of high seas adventures and a sassy pirate queen.
Slaughter Hotel is a deeply, satisfyingly absurd film on almost level. Produced in the glory year of 1972, it reflects both the burgeoning popularity of the stylish giallo film and the relaxing of censorship laws across Europe and the United States. One of those two things was much more important to Slaughter Hotel than the other.
Kriminal was one of many Italian comic book anti-heroes that rose to fame in the 1960s, inspiring a host of imitators all wearing skeleton bodystockings. But only one Kriminal cash-in made it to the big screen: Turkey’s Kilink.
Lucio Fulci’s filmography is littered with bodies gruesomely snuffed out. There is a deep vein of cynicism running through the center of Don’t Torture a Duckling.
Mudy wants to get her son Tony laid. She enlists Rosalba Neri and they, in turn, enlist Edwige Fenech to do the job for a nice payday. The rub is that Tony is very much an introvert, possibly a psychotic, and definitely a firebug.
As with his previous film, Miraglia takes the modern setting integral to the spirit of gialli and dresses it up in a bit of old-fashioned Gothic spookiness by, once again, setting a portion of it in a moody Gothic estate full of dark secret passages and dungeon chambers.
Sergio Sollima didn’t direct very many films. His career is split fairly evenly between theatrical and televised fare. Devil in the Brain is not what anyone would consider a technically outstanding movie, but it is solid in its craftsmanship.
The Sister of Ursula is like watching a Jess Franco film without that director’s flare. Contemplate that one on the Tree of Woe. Sex scenes, the Italian coast, outlandish murders — everything about The Sister of Ursula seems to operate under the directive of “Well, this should be good, but we’re going to mess it up.”
In fairness, there does seem to be a genuine attempt to create an actual film here. Take the word “attempt” literally in this case. Moments of suspense and dread, though presented with apparent sincerity, are nonetheless clumsily presented few and far between.
Had Dark Purpose been an hour long episode of a TV show, it would have delivered. But forced to come up with, roughly, three half-hour acts, it can’t sustain the momentum and Shirley Jones, while perfectly acceptable, just isn’t dynamic enough to make us forget nothing much is going on.
With Eye in the Labyrinth, Caiano demonstrates a sure hand in orchestrating his players, staging the action in striking tableaux, and allowing his creative muscles to stretch.
Few giallo directors were as adept at melding the sundry fetishes that defined the movement as Luciano Ercoli. Nudity, violence, cabaret numbers, quirky camera work, exquisite living rooms, and flash clothing all hit their crescendo under the steady guidance of a man who seems to treat every film as a fashion shoot.
Hatchet for the Honeymoon is not the kind of film to watch for a kill count or ingenuous murders. It is the kind of film to watch for paranormal and sartorial phenomena, ghosts, discotheques, mysterious deaths, horrifying old toys, and the narration of a “paranoiac.”
Creating an emotional attachment to the characters and a sympathetic reaction to the violence against them isn’t a giallo priority. Who Saw Her Die? is the rare giallo that attempts and succeeds this, thanks to a committed performance by former James Bond, George Lazenby.
When it comes to truly loathsome characters in a giallo, few can match Giuliano Carnimeo’s The Case of the Bloody Iris, a film in which pretty much everyone is hateful, stupid, or more often, hateful and stupid.
The Bloodstained Butterfly is the odd giallo where the police seem dedicated to their job. Although it boasts the elaborate murders and cast of red herrings one expects from the genre, it also surprises by spending at least as much time on police procedure, forensic science, and courtroom maneuvering.