Sunday, January 15, 2012

All the Colors of the Dark (1972)

In this delirious piece by director Sergio Martino, viewers are granted the pleasure to spend, literally, the entire movie with actress Edwige Fenech, as Jane. 

Childhood trauma and a miscarriage, as a result of a car accident one year ago, has resulted in Jane’s mental instability. She lately seems to be spending a lot of time at home now, smoking and drinking while waiting around for her lover, Richard (George Hilton), who’s out working most of the time. Our introduction to Jane in the movie sees her waking up from a bewitchingly filmed nightmare, full of symbolic hints to her troubles, and in a daze, she walks into the shower while still in her nightgown. 

Is this a symbolic and desperate attempt for Jane to wash away what is grieving her, or is it just a chance for Fenech to get wet? I’d say definitely both, which is part of what makes ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK so pleasurable. It is not just an empty ploy for mindless sex and violence, you see, but the film is just as sexy as it is intelligent, head spinning, macabre, and psychedelic. 

Fenech is sort of the main attraction, whose pleasing looks, vulnerability, and pleasant company carries the proceedings rather well, but the movie is also packed with notable Euro-genre actors who contribute to the show, also, such as the frequent Fenech co-stars George Hilton and Ivan Rassimov, and giallo divas Marinna Malfatti and Nieves Navarro, the latter being a fantastic and groundbreaking lead herself in DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Messiah of Evil (1973)

MESSIAH OF EVIL is an unusual and artistic low-budget American horror film with a fanciful script that results in a surreal and nightmarish sensibility that feels more like ‘70s Euro-horror, causing it to be either fondly remembered or easily forgotten, depending on the viewer’s taste. Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz’s (the couple that brought us HOWARD THE DUCK and scripted AMERICAN GRAFFITI) ode to madness is probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but with its odd nature and unique horror sequences, the easy to find, but still relatively unknown or unloved, MESSIAH OF EVIL just begs to be blogged about. 

The start almost feels like some sort of one minute film project tacked on at the beginning. The scene of a man running from something unexplained and into a homicidal little girl with a razor blade seemed misleading and unnecessary and ends up being completely forgotten later on since it really has no connection to anything. Things get more interesting quickly, after a short sub-credit sequence, with a shot of a blurry asylum hallway and a woman’s obscure figure walking towards us, slowly, as if she is sleep walking. A woman’s unstable voice, no-doubt crazy from what we are in for, openly narrates a coming threat, calmly at first and slowly builds up to a maddening crescendo. Whether she is talking to herself or narrating to the viewers is unclear, but much like the film, this part is open to interpretation and starts things off beautifully, unlike the tacky throat slashing that occurred before. 

After that terrific intro, we move to Arletty, played by Marianna Hill, driving to the seaside town of Pointe Dune where her father resides. She is concerned about his recent silence and increasingly drastic letters. When she arrives, her father is missing and she is left to ponder the strange situation with journal entries and letters left behind by her father in his bizarre and necrotic house by the sea.