Saturday, January 25, 2014

Delirium / Delirio caldo (1972)

At first glance, Renato Polselli’s stylistic S&M fever nightmare, Delirium, might feel like an interesting case study of psychopathy, but I’m hesitant to call the film’s protagonist a psychopath. He’s definitely a sadistic maniac of sorts, but a psychopath has no conscience and therefore cannot feel empathy and remorse. Our maniac, here, feels remorse and is at odds with himself. After doing harm, he gets emotional and curses his reflection before shattering the mirror. Just to stop the monster, he tries to set himself up to be caught by the police.

No sir, he may be a serial killer, but the highly respected, criminal psychologist and police consultant Dr. Herbert Lyutak (Mickey Hargitay) is no psychopath.

He actually makes for a compelling lead, thanks to a fair amount of charisma and outward charm that contrasts with his hidden sick side. It’s made known early on that Herbert’s a particularly nasty fellow, with a pitch black disturbing murder sequence involving a young lady (Stefania Fassio). In making its protagonist a murderer, we have something more unique from the get go. Though we know Herbert’s a killer, murders still continue in the traditional ‘whodunit’ giallo style, which imposes the question of Herbert being the only killer. The multiple murder scenes of pretty girls getting killed are cruel, which isn’t surprising for a giallo, but Polselli really seems to be trying to outdo them all.

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