Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Night of the Walking Dead / El extraño amor de los vampiros (1975)

"The sun shining in my dreams 
  The light is getting hot
  Saved by eternity
  I have seen death so close
 Away, awhile the angels crossed the sky
 But I'm condemned to stay here." -- Heavenly  

In his memoirs, Paul Naschy said he had referred Argentine film directing stalwart Leon Klimovsky to be director of his seminal Spanish horror classic La noche de Walpurgis, AKA The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman (1971), because one of the film’s financers wanted a quick and reliable director.

It would seem that Klimovsky was known for his fast shooting and workmanlike skills, and yet he managed to direct some real atmospheric classics of Spanish horror, often on low budgets and high pressured shooting schedules, and he introduced an oft-imitated technique of filming vampires and zombies in slow-motion, capturing a uniquely nightmarish plane of existence in the process.
Klimovsky’s vampire films are exceptional and interestingly varied, and they belong alongside the best of Jess Franco and Jean Rollin. The aforementioned The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman was a record breaking box office success that revived the Spanish horror fantasy genre. The other Klimovsky directed vampire films that followed were the epic The Dracula Saga (1973), the more grindhouse flavored The Vampires’ Night Orgy (1974), and the romantic, adventurous, and somewhat eclectic Night of the Walking Dead / The Strange Love of the Vampires, the topic for tonight

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shock / Beyond the Door II (1977)

Mario Bava’s final full-length film as director Shock (AKA Beyond the Door II) is like The Amityville Horror (1979), Repulsion (1965), and The Shining (1980) combined into a progressive-rock tinged haunted-house Italian horror/mystery thriller that does manage to be scary. Bava again employs the vengeful ghost story, as in his child-themed Kill Baby Kill (1966), but keeps it in the family, creating a ghost story about marital vengeance, which was based on a true story that Bava weaved in to an already existing script, about a living house, he had co-written with Dardano Sacchetti several years prior. The end product is a slow-paced but ultimately exhilarating experience that succeeds at being one of the creepier Italian horrors. Bava’s son Lamberto Bava, who also contributed to the script, said they were influenced a little more by Stephen King and were attempting to make a modern horror film.

The film also has a possession angle that takes a few cues from The Exorcist (1973), which might have been in response to the success of The House of Exorcism (1975): producer Alfredo Leone’s revamping of Bava’s Lisa and the Devil (1973), with newly filmed possession scenes spliced in.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Mummy’s Revenge / La venganza de la Momia (1973)

When looking over the lengthy cycle of mummy movies, one in particular often goes heavily unmentioned, and that’s Spanish actor, filmmaker Paul Naschy’s take on the mummy myth, The Mummy’s Revenge / La venganza de la Momia.

Being somewhat of a tragic love story, The Mummy’s Revenge is rather faithful to the original Universal film and is also easy to compare to the 1959 Hammer reboot as well. What sets The Mummy’s Revenge apart is that it’s a Paul Naschy film, meaning it’s going to be a little more erotic, a little meaner, more fearsome, more violent, and more personal. There is also a sadomasochistic element too, with a number of maidens strung up for both amusement and sacrificial purposes.

The film is directed by Carlos Aured and is written by and stars Naschy. It is one of four collaborations between Naschy and Aured, with the other three being the seminal Horror Rises from the Tomb (1972), part of the Waldemar Daninsky Werewolf cycle Curse of the Devil (1972), and the Spanish giallo Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1973). The Mummy’s Revenge is Naschy’s second, and more focused, take on the mummy, as the creature did appear in Naschy’s horror/sci-fi monster mashup Assignment Terror (1970), along with aliens, the werewolf, Frankenstein's monster, and Dracula.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Venomous Vixens: Aurora de Alba

At present, little is known about the European actress and dancer Aurora de Alba. Her film career is varied, although consisting mostly of rare, hard-to-find movies, with a handful of Spanish horror films being the most well-known and accessible. What little I could find out is that her name was Aurora Galisteo before being known as Aurora de Alba, and she is the cousin of famed Spanish dancer/actress Carmen Sevilla, who was born Maria del Carmen Garcia Galisteo. This would also make Aurora cousins with Spanish cinematographer Jose Garcia Galisteo. Aurora danced at the Venice Film Festival in 1953, from which a number of historical photos were made. She married Chico Scimone on June 23, 1954, in Taormina, Sicily, and later had a son, Gianfranco Scimone on March 11, 1955. She died February 24th, 2005.

Throughout the ‘50s, Aurora starred in a number of Spanish/Italian comedies and dramas, most of which seem to either have been forgotten or fallen into obscurity. As the Euro film industry shifted its output to different genres in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Aurora managed to land roles in Euro-westerns: Un hombre vino a matar (1967) and Su le mani, cadavere! Sei in arresto (1971) (under the direction of Leon Klimovsky); Euro-spies, Agente X 1-7 operazione Oceano (1965) and Top Secret (1967); and Euro-horrors La Marca del Hombre-lobo (1968), La rebelión de las muertas (1973), and La orgía de los muertos (1973). The three aforementioned horror films also starred Paul Naschy and seem to have been the most accessible. In addition, she was frequently directed by José Luis Merino. After starring in a line of comedies and dramas in the latter half of the ‘70s, her movie career seemed to have taken an abrupt halt at the end of the decade. What she was up to after that is probably anyone’s guess.

Some sources list her as an Italian actress, while others show her as a Spanish actress. Aurora is actually of Spanish origin, however she did get married in Italy and most likely lived there for a time. Another source lists her birth date as February 2nd, 1948; this cannot be true, however, because, as was mentioned before, she was married in 1954, and the following image of her below is from the 1953 Venice Film Festival, and looking to be somewhere in her early twenties at that time, it is probably not a far cry to assume she was born sometime in the ‘20s or ‘30s.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

City of the Living Dead / The Gates of Hell (1980)

City of the Living Dead is part of a high point in Lucio Fulci’s career that would make him synonymous with gore, zombies, and splatter and also cause him to be more generally regarded as a horror director, despite having worked in numerous other film genres. Being the first film in what has become known as The Gates of Hell trilogy, which also includes The Beyond (1981) and House by the Cemetery (1981), City feels a little rough around the edges, a step down from the previous Zombi 2 (1979) but at the same time a stepping stone or prototype to The Beyond, a film that masterfully embodies a dreadful but surreal atmospheric ascetic that I like to call nightmarish horror, which abandons logic to create a sense that anything can happen, usually something bad involving the eyes.

While there is an interesting Lovecraftian story (co-written by Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti) and plenty of dialogue and characters to fill it, City feels a bit like a compendium of gore scenes and set pieces, most of which exemplify Fulci in top form. It has its flaws and issues, yet it’s one of those films where you can talk just as much about what’s wrong with it as you can about what’s right with it, and what’s right is pleasing enough to supersede what’s wrong.

Despite having a dodgy narrative, a few silly moments, and somewhat shallow characters, who have grown on me with time, such as Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), the film is quite a macabre experience that has become known for its top-notch ambiance and gore FX (by Gino De Rossi), as well as succeeding as a horror film overall. It’s like a product of low quality that nonetheless continually hits the sweet spot throughout its runtime so that you just can’t help loving it. It’s almost the masterpiece The Beyond is.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Female Vampire / La comtesse noire (1973)

If you haven’t noticed, female vampires in movies have been a long-running theme I’ve enjoyed exploring with this blog. It’s an appealing aspect of fiction to me, and I just can’t get away from the archetypical idea of the vampiress: her gothic image, seductive power, hidden feral side, and deadly sexuality. Some time ago, around the time I reviewed The Blood Spattered Bride, I finally gave Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla a read and wasn’t too surprised at realizing how much Carmilla’s influence is felt in a large number of cult female vampire films. Although, there seems to have been a bit of a debate as to whether or not the perceived erotic subtext in Le Fanu’s novella has been misinterpreted by non-Victorian readers, yet many filmmakers have nonetheless taken the subtext at face value, taking whatever supposed eroticism is there in the writing of the book out of the implicit and into the explicit; and, for its time, Jess Franco’s Female Vampire (a.k.a. La comtesse noire, Bare Breasted Countess, Erotikill, and many more) has to be the most erotic lady vampire piece, even more so for the XXX version Lüsterne Vampire Im Spermarausch. (On the opposite end of the spectrum is perhaps, and also recommended, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death — a Carmilla influenced movie that hardly features any eroticism).

Friday, August 15, 2014

Spirits of Death / A White Dress for Marialé (1972)

With Spirits of Death, I’m reminded of how pleasing it is to keep discovering new worthwhile Eurocult movies of the vintage variety. Years ago I thought that I might have been coming close to exhausting my selection of every notable Eurohorror / giallo / surreal-art-house-drama film. However, that notion seems to become more and more untrue with time, which is counterintuitive, as it would seem that the more movies of this type you see the closer you would be to seeing them all, but it nonetheless keeps opening up a world that always seems bigger the further you go in.

Spirits of Death is one of those arty, Eurohorror, giallo movies of a particular brand that I can’t believe I went so long without knowing (let’s see if we can coin the term “Sleeping Eurocult” – in winking reference to Agatha Christie’s Sleeping Murder). Spirits of Death is directed and cinematographed by Romano Scavolini, who many may know as the director of an infamous Video Nasty from the early ‘80s, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain. He is also the brother of Sauro Scavolini, director of another marvelous “Sleeping Eurocult” Love and Death in the Garden of the Gods.

The film is essentially a gathering of colorful guests, who have been invited by one of the proprietors, Marialé (Ida Galli aka Evelyn Stewart), with mysterious motives, to a spooky old castle. It might sound familiar, and it is, but the gathering turns into a fascinating, candlelit journey into the underground caverns of the castle as well as a delirious entertaining descent into a batshit crazy Fellini-esque masquerade dinner party before things turn over to a more traditional murder mystery, as party guests start getting knocked off by an unseen assailant in the latter half.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Asylum Erotica / Slaughter Hotel (1971)

I was charmed the other day by a 1915 vintage, almost Victorian looking, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes advertisement poster I spotted amongst the old-fashioned-decor adorned on the walls at a local Cracker Barrel diner. While staring at the ad, for some reason, I became curious as to the origin of Corn Flakes. Where were they invented, and how did they come about? I previously had a stereotypical notion that they may have originated in farming communities, due to the rooster, Cornelius, usually observed on the boxes. After ordering pancakes (not the multigrain or wheat ones but the regular pancakes), I googled “Kellogg’s Corn Flakes history” on my phone, and the results were a little startling.

It appears the invention that brought about Corn Flakes was discovered by accident in 1894, at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan by health reformist Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his brother Will Keith Kellogg as part of a bland diet to keep the patients from having increased passions, i.e. to keep them from masturbating.

One day, the Kellogg brothers left a batch of cooked wheat out to sit, when they were diverted by urgent matters at the sanitarium. Upon their return, they’d found that the wheat had gone stale, but because they were under a strict budget, they decided to salvage the wheat. After pressing the wheat through rollers, it formed, to their surprise, wheat flakes that were subsequently toasted and served to the patients; it ended up being a hit. Later Will Keith Kellogg experimented with flaking corn, which he eventually made into a successful business.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was a pioneer surgeon, who succeeded in having exceptionally low mortality rates with his surgery practice. He was the superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium and pioneered numerous health reform treatments, some of which still hold up today. However, the good doctor sometimes missed the mark.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Daughters of Darkness (1971)

“Genre rules” seem to be most common in zombie and vampire films, and it’s with these particular genres that breaking the “rules” ends up being the most controversial. Yet, these so called rules are non-existent, and filmmakers can do whatever they want. Of course, the big risk with breaking too many rules is that so many people will already hate the movie before/without even bothering to see it. On the other hand, sticking with the rules and relying too heavily on clichés is too easy and contributes to oversaturation of a genre. I personally enjoy the best of both worlds, classic and innovative, the best of the old with the best of the new. Give me what I came for, but surprise me too. Clichés are important but more for the sake of maintaining a basis of familiarity.

Harry Kümel’s emblematic, chic, and sensual vampire seduction Daughters of Darkness falls somewhere in the middle ground between familiar and different. It probably isn’t even worth mentioning the many parallels between this movie and The Blood Spattered Bride or The Shiver of the Vampires, other than to note they were made around the same time and manage to be so different from one another, even though they tell similar stories. They all contain a common sapphic vampire story that owes a lot to Sheridan Le Fanu’s novel Carmilla, which was adapted a year earlier with The Vampire Lovers in 1970 and ten years before that with Blood and Roses.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Zombie / Zombi 2 (1979)

I used to not be able to stomach gory zombie films very well. Despite being excited and thoroughly fascinated after watching zombie films in my youth, I suffered from a loss of appetite for a while. Anytime I was trying to eat, my brain would be like “you know what’s a good movie? Dawn of the Dead (1978),” and images from the scene with zombies eating in the cellar would pop into my mind, and I would be turned off to eating meat or anything savory for that matter. Sweets or French fries were fine, but my mind just would not cease to relate the taste and consistency of anything else, especially if it was slimy, to what it was the zombies were chomping on. I was disgusted by zombie carnage but still thought it was so cool.

The zombie film that grossed me out the most, which is really saying something, was Lucio Fulci’s Zombie. As a kid, I used to hate looking at the VHS cover with the iconic, rotting, worm eyed, conquistador zombie (Ottaviano Dell'Acqua). I wasn’t scared; I was repulsed. Being a growing boy on the verge of puberty, I didn’t think it wise to be turned off to protein, either. And so, the tape just sat on my movie shelf, after only being watched once, collecting dust, never to be touched again for quite some time.

Needless to say, I eventually overcame this sort of appetite-loss problem and no longer felt sick after watching zombie films. I don’t know if it is enhanced mental discipline or desensitization, but I can now eat pizza while watching movies like Zombie and Burial Ground without getting nauseous.

Anyone who may have read my article for The Beyond during last year’s gore-a-thon may recall that I wasn’t a fan of Zombie for a while. It took seeing The Beyond for me to re-evaluate what was my negative stand on Zombie. I was guilty of hoping for another Dawn of the Dead, ignorantly overlooking every one of the film’s strengths.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Wax Mask / M.D.C. – Maschera di cera (1997)

The last film Lucio Fulci ever worked on, The Wax Mask, was supposed to have been the grand collaboration between Fulci and Dario Argento, had it not been for Fulci’s tragic death some few weeks before filming was to begin. The project came about after Argento had approached Fulci at a 1994 film festival in Rome and suggested they work together on a new film.* This was more of a sympathetic gesture from Argento who had intentions of reviving the spirits of an ailing Fulci in a wheelchair, who, at the time, had not worked on a new film in years.* The two were never the best of friends, as Argento always thought Fulci imitated his filmmaking style (the separate camps weren’t only with the fan base it would seem).*

Differences aside, they mutually agreed upon recreating House of Wax with Fulci directing.* Along with Daniele Stroppa (The House of Clocks), they wrote the script for The Wax Mask, an alternate take on the wax museum myth that doesn’t necessarily feel like a remake of House of Wax (1953), even if it is.*

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Announcing the Second Annual Gore-a-thon

“Do you hear the clarion call? It’s calling out to one and all.” –Falconer

The horror blogging clarion call sounds again! That’s right; it’s almost time for Blood Sucking Geek’s second annual Ultimate Gore-a-thon 2014 -- Another Splatterific Extravaganza! I hope a fraction of you fantabulously awesome readers remember this event from last year, when nine sites came together to embark on an ultimate gore-centric blog-a-thon! The event will run from June 15th to the 21st. Including At the Mansion of Madness, there are, so far, twelve sites. The other blogs/sites taking part in the upcoming Gore-a-thon are as follows:

90s Horror Movies

Blood Sucking Geek 

Candy-Coated Razor Blades

Craft Fear  

The Info Zombie 

Love Horror 

Midnight Cinephile 

Movies at Dog Farm 

Slasher Studios 


Wide Weird World of Cult Films 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Chicks with Candles (Tumblr Page)

My good friend, and fan of this site, Terence, has a cool Eurocult Tumblr I just found out about yesterday, Chicks with Candles! Not only does it live up to its title, celebrating the beloved gothic film trope of beautiful maidens with candelabra from movies like Tragic Ceremony and Baba Yaga, the page also features posters, cover art, deleted scenes, trivia, interesting but concise observations on Eurocult films like Jess Franco’s Lorna the Exorcist, and, most importantly, a lot of attractive films I’ve never heard of but really want to look at. I believe that me and Terence share an affinity for the use of lit candles as a mood enhancing aesthetic on film sets, and it's an elegant idea for a Tumblr page.

Check it out by clicking the delectable image of Rosalba Neri below, and be prepared to stay a while!  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lady Frankenstein (1971)

Lightning, angry mobs, grave robbing, and a criminal’s brain, like so many Frankenstein offshoots / spinoffs / parodies, Lady Frankenstein owes more to James Whale’s classic 1931 horror film than Mary Shelley’s 1818 literary masterpiece. Despite its many fitting references to, and retreading to an extent, some of the plot points to its trendsetting predecessor, Lady Frankenstein is far from feeling like a gory, colored remake, primarily thanks to the addition of Frankenstein’s biological daughter, Tania (Rosalba Neri), a little novelty with a lot of potential, like reimagining the classic 1931 movie with the doctor’s attractive but even more ambitious daughter written into the story.

In a time when females were grossly underrepresented in science, Tania Frankenstein shatters what must’ve been a prominent stereotype, enduring her pursuit as a surgeon, even when faced with sexist instructors at the University; as she puts it, “the professors have a lot of old fashioned ideas about a woman’s place.” When she returns home from the University after becoming a licensed surgeon, her father, Baron Frankenstein (Joseph Cotten), expresses admiration for her accomplishments, and yet he and his assistant, Dr. Charles Marshall (Paul Müller), still treat her as if their work involving cadavers is too much for her delicate senses to fathom. They seem to not want to involve her in their gruesome work, but, to their surprise, she’s all for it. They attempt to make her think they are working with animals, but she has been thinking along the same lines as her father the entire time, being more interested in human transplants; “I am my father’s daughter.” Not only does she thoroughly understand her father’s work, she ends up refining it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Other Side of the Mirror / Al otro lado del espejo (1973)

Jess Franco could film movies faster than I can write reviews for them. His films can sometimes have an overwhelming low quality feel to them, making them difficult to digest for the majority. The natural location shots, haunting tone, memorable and well-chosen female actors (Franco definitely had an eye for female leads that just seemed to resonate with the camera lens), and Franco’s brand of bizarre surrealism and eroticism don’t seem to be enough to save the films for many, but they are nonetheless a huge hit for others. Al otro lado del espejo contains all of the aforementioned elements and yet has a higher-than-usual quality feel to it, most likely due to the terrific acting and screen presence from its leading lady (Emma Cohen of Horror Rises from the Tomb and Night of the Walking Dead) and a believable tragic story.

Jazz pianist/singer Ana (Cohen) is profoundly affected by her father’s (Howard Vernon) suicide shortly after her engagement. After calling off the wedding, Ana leaves her homeland on Madeira Island only to undergo several failed relations when she intermittently becomes hypnotically driven to kill any man that becomes close to her.

It isn’t just enough to say that Ana is haunted by images of her dead father in the mirror. She doesn’t just see him, but she finds herself at times in the mirror, in Franco’s looking glass world. It can also be viewed as Ana’s mental reflection on her emotional trauma. The memory of her father’s suicide driven by his stubborn disapproval of her marrying and leaving him is intertwined with Ana’s psyche, manifesting itself when she murders any man that shows any sexual interest in her. Ana’s traumatization, spurned the moment of her outcry into the mirror, yields a malediction that could either be viewed as some sort of curse or spell from her father’s ghost or played off as the result of a kind of posttraumatic stress disorder. If taken at face value, the goose bumps inducing ending, made more dramatic with church bells signifying the wedding that never was, reveals which one happens to be the case.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Down to the Cellar / Do pivnice (1983)

Down to the Cellar is a short film from Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer that I’ve grown fond of. I remember feeling a little underwhelmed when I first watched it, but it stayed with me, for some reason, and now it’s one of my favorite short films (I wonder if there’s a name for that kind of art). It was the same with Svankmajer’s Alice (Neco Z Alenky), a creepy vision of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland complete with Svankmajer’s disturbing but fascinating characteristics. For me, the last quarter of Alice became a battle to stay awake. I thought Alice just wasn’t the film for me, but that couldn’t have been more untrue. Alice ended up planting itself in my mind before slowly taking its hold on me, and, as if a bug had just bit me, I spontaneously ordered off for the DVD and, on a whim, read for the first time Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. As those of you that follow my At the Mansion of Madness fan page on Facebook might have noticed, I have endeavored to watch as many AIW movies as I can slowly but surely come across. This is all primarily thanks to Jan Svankmajer’s vision of AIW. Not bad for a movie that I struggled to stay awake during on first viewing.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Morgiana (1972)

Morgiana, by Slovak director Juraj Herz, is a seldom spoken of curio from the Czechoslovak New Wave that’s heavily stylized with regards to its visuals and mood but is straightforward with its story and might feel a little influenced by the ‘Grand Dame Guignol’ horror of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Much like Poe’s The Black Cat, there is an escalating sense of guilt in its protagonist, aristocratic villainess Viktorie (Iva Janzurová), that’s not particularly out of remorse or regret for her crime, but from paranoia, constant annoying reminders of her misdeed, and fear of being found out, which is where I think a lot of the suspense comes from.

I like that there is a lot of appeal to its detestable, unsympathetic villain. Viktorie (Viki) is probably one of my new favorite villains. She emanates a wicked aura, primarily due to her excessively evil gothic look that pretty much gives away the nature of her game at first glance. Janzurová's performance is frightening, stellar, and versatile. I say versatile because she also plays Viki’s sister, Klára. The personalities and appearances between the sisters are like night and day, and I don’t know if I was a bit naïve at the time, but after watching the whole movie for the first time, I had no idea the same actress played both sisters.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sex of the Witch (1973)

Witchcraft, tainted family history, and murder mysteries are very agreeable story themes, but writer and director Angelo Pannaccio, hitherto unknown to me, gives these horror hallmarks an attractively perverse edge with Sex of the Witch.

This is one of those films that brings a substantially large group of shady relatives together in a family mansion for the reading of a will, with the inheritance being split equally among the relatives, with an added stipulation that if any beneficiary should die before a certain time, their share must be split among the surviving heirs. Of course this will inevitably create a murderer or two, amongst the family. I’ve seen a similar plot device in a couple other movies, One Body Too Many and Legacy of Blood, but something different with Sex of the Witch is the inclusion of a perverse, evil witch relative with a good measure of hate and malice for the family, which gives what could’ve been a routine plot device a rather demented and supernatural spin.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Love and Death in the Garden of the Gods (1972)

Being a conversation heavy drama mystery with a bit of a dreamy languor about it, Love and Death in the Garden of the Gods may require a little focus from viewers if they hope to get absorbed in its compelling story, beautiful scenery, and tragic characters, but it is worth it. The plot is more or less structured to be an exploration of a hazy backstory that slowly crystalizes before eventually catching up with the present.

The film is directed by Sauro Scavolini, a prolific screenwriter (All the Colors of the Dark, amongst many others) with few directing credits. He is the brother of director Romano Scavolini (Nightmares in a Damaged Brain), who also helmed cinematography for Love and Death in the Garden of the Gods.

The story is fed to us in fragmented bits and pieces from an inquisitive Professor of ornithology (Franz von Treuberg), restoring and listening to a heap of tangled audio recording tape he discovered in the forest outside the villa he’s rented to study the non-indigenous birds of the region. As the Professor listens to the tape recordings, the film cuts to flashbacks of the previous inhabitants of the villa, making the place seem haunted by a past that is both alarming and fascinating. While the past is the primary setting of the story, the film still emphases events in the present, particularly the relation between the professor and the seedy estate administrator, Dominici (Vittorio Duse), giving the Professor dimension and making him more than just an avenue of backstory disclosure.

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.