Those who may only know him from his terribly cheesy ‘80s outings like NIGHTMARE CITY and GHOSTHOUSE or his violent cannibal jungle adventures, should know that director Umberto Lenzi also directed a number of crime, Eurospy, and giallo films that are considered to be very respectable and accomplished. What I like best are his giallo films from the late ‘60s and early ’70s, and so, if you thought the cannibal movies were too distasteful or that NIGHTMARE CITY was ultra-sucky (not me) and crime films just aren’t your thing, then perhaps what you may’ve been missing all along are some of his terrific gialli, like SEVEN BLOOD STAINED ORCHIDS, KNIFE OF ICE, SPASMO or one I recently enjoyed for the first time, ORGASMO, which sadly, unlike SPASMO, doesn’t include paranoid cries of the enigmatic movie title in its trailer. It was actually released as PARANOIA in America, which adds a good deal of confusion because following the success of the film in America, Lenzi made another movie called PARANOIA in Italy that was released as A QUIET PLACE TO KILL in the US, resulting in two movies called PARANOIA made roughly around the same time. Adding further confusion is the fact that both films star the flamboyant sex icon Carroll Baker as the leading actress. Ah, title confusion… What better way to nerd out on films?
Recently widowed and wealthy Kathryn West (Carroll Baker) has moved from America to a lonely villa in Italy. Detached from her past and looking to live a quiet life of peace and isolation, her only form of contact and company now is her lawyer, a stern housemaid, and a deaf gardener. Kathryn finds herself attracted to a young stranger whose motor happens to breakdown in front of her house one day and is seduced and charmed into letting the young man and his sister stay with her. Once she is hooked in, both brother and sister, and surely some other outside influence, mess with her sanity in cruel and evil ways that drive her mad.
So, she was alright as a witch in BABA YAGA and a distressed dame in SO SWEET… SO PERVERSE, she displayed fairly interesting acting in KNIFE OF ICE without delivering any lines on account of playing a mute character, and she had an Academy Award nominated role in BABY DOLL, but for a while now I’ve usually wondered: what’s so great about Carroll Baker? Well, read on to find out.