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In 1599 Italy, Beatrice Cenci is the teenage daughter of the crazed landowner and nobleman Francesco Cenci whom he keeps his daughter locked up in the dungeon of his castle and sexually abuses her as well. Beatrice then plots with her stepmother, her besotted servant Olimpio, as well as a local bandit, named Catalano, to plan Francesco's murder. Written by
Lucio Fulci. Just hearing the name will make most cult cinema fans think of blood and gore - and for good reason since the great director was responsible for some of the best gory highlights ever made, and for that reason; he's just about the last director you would expect to make a period drama. Fulci did have a varied career, making films in many of Italy's most famous genres, from westerns and Polizi flicks to Giallo and the blood and gore films with which he made his name...however, it would seem that period dramas were not his thing as Beatrice Cenci will not feature in my list of favourite Fulci flicks! The plot is actually a decent base for a film and is set in 16th Century Italy. The title character, Beatrice Cenci, is the daughter of a rich landowner named Francesco Cenci. Francesco is a cruel man who keeps his daughter locked up in a room and tortures her. Naturally, she's not best pleased at this arrangement and since she's not the only one who dislikes her father, she doesn't have a hard time getting some other people to help her murder him.
I have to admit, part of the reason why I didn't like this film is because I'm not a fan of period dramas. Naturally, my only reason for watching this is because I'm a big Fulci fan and I'll watch anything that the director's name is attached to, even if it is something from a genre I have no love for. Even though I found the film rather dull, I do have to admire the great director's work on it. He may be best known for his gore flicks, but Fulci's talent came out best in his earlier films and here he creates a great atmosphere and manages to pull good performances out of his cast. Aside from Fulci at the helm, this film also features another great cult luminary in an early role, in the form of the always watchable Tomas Milian. He is joined by Adrienne Larussa who takes the title role and does a good job with it. Despite the fact that this is a departure from what Fulci is best known for, it's not completely devoid of the elements that won him his fan base as the film does feature some rather nasty torture scenes. Overall, I can respect the craftsmanship on this film but I won't pretend to like it! Recommended to hardcore Fulci fans only.
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