Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Black Ribbon for Deborah (1974)

Marina Malfatti is Deborah, a sterile woman who wants to bear a child more than anything. She’s told by her doctor to give up all hope of having a child; for in her condition it would take a miracle, and miracles don’t exist. This condition is like a malediction to her, and it’s having a ruinous effect on the marriage between her and her scientist husband, Michel (Bradford Dillman), who is earnestly attempting to push for a happy marriage, but his wife’s occasional breakdowns are sometimes too much for him. Deborah doesn’t seem to realize it, but she also happens to be a very powerful medium, and after she and her husband investigate a car accident they’ve just witnessed, Deborah has an encounter with a dying pregnant woman, Mira (Delia Boccardo), which sets the stage for a wholehearted and satisfying mystery. 

I love genre actresses like Edwige Fenech and Rosalba Neri, but I sometimes wonder: what about Marina Malfatti? Sure, she wasn’t as wildly sexual as her peers, but she still made for lovely company as a supporting actress in films like All the Colors of the Dark and The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave. Until now I’ve never had the chance to view her as a leading lady, and with A Black Ribbon for Deborah, Malfatti has the chance to prove herself as the lead character, and she carries this eerie take on parapsychology on her shoulders rather well.

Her short hairstyle here seems like an odd choice; it took me a while to get used to it, although the look grew on me and is something that I’ve come to readily identify her role in this film with. Being that a lot of these films were influenced by Rosemary’s Baby, the choice of hairstyle was likely to give her a Mia Farrow vibe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rochelle, Rochelle

Of all the fake movies referenced in several Seinfeld episodes, one in particular Rochelle, Rochelle is one that actually looks interesting to me. I usually get a chuckle from some of the silly fake movie titles mentioned in the series like Checkmate, Sack Lunch, Chunnel, and Prognosis Negative, but Rochelle, Rochelle appeals to the inner cult movie fan in me, and I just can’t help wishing that the movie was real and directed by someone like Jess Franco. The tagline: “A young girl's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk” reminds me of Franco’s Eugenie… the story of her journey into perversion, and it also brings to mind Joe D’Amato’s Emanuelle Around the World. Could it be that the writers of Seinfeld had these types of films in mind when coming up with the Rochelle, Rochelle gag? In the series, the movie is referred to as foreign and apparently generated a lot of hype, but the general response ended up being that the plot was unbearable, and it was just the nudity that made it revered. Now I absolutely love this kind of stuff (especially if there are horror elements fused in), so you usually won’t find me making such remarks.

What do you think? Is there more to most foreign erotic movies than just the sex and nudity?