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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Trumpet Of The Apocalypse" (aka "Again") is a little known, rarely
seen, and misunderstood giallo with quite a bit in it's favor. Its
assets are the London locations, vibrant color photography ("in
Technicolor and Techniscope") and attractive stars. Unfortunately, the
low budget, typical-for-the-times "mod-rock" score, and short running
time belie the film's intriguing premise -leaving many tangents in it's
nightmare labyrinth unexplored. The original title, "Hot Loves Of A
Minor", makes it sound like something for the "trenchcoat crowd" and
hard-core "Eurotrash/giallo" fans will be disappointed as all the "Sex
& Savagery" come by implication only. There's many beatings with fists,
chains and whips but the only two "provable" murders happen off-screen.
All other deaths come from defenestration.
"Trumpet" follows "giallo/film noir" convention, unfolding like a "Mannix" TV episode that takes an unexpected detour into "The Twilight Zone". The pre-credit sequence sets the stage: A noted Music Conservatory professor hurtles screaming through a window -landing at the feet of a bobby on his beat. The next day, a young "long-hair" reads of the "suicide" in the news and rushes to an apartment building only to see his girl come crashing through a window...
After the psychedelic opening credits, a macabre tale unfolds when Naval seaman Richard (Brett Halsey) returns home after a long absence to a London he no longer recognizes -only to discover that his sister Katherine has killed herself. At the cemetery he meets Helen (Marilu' Tolo), his sister's roommate who, unlike the police, doesn't believe Professor Stone and his best pupil's deaths are suicidal co-incidence. She tells Richard of Katherine's bizarre behavior during the last weeks of her life -including "a marvelous secret too fantastic to be true" and her involvement with "The Roumanian", a psychotically brutal thug who inhabits "The Mouse Hole" -London's wildest discotheque.
Richard and Helen's quest for the truth lead them through a maze of violence, deception and death when they stumble upon an amazing "McGuffin": "The Trumpet Of The Apocalypse"...
What is the "Trumpet"? At first it appears to be an 18th Century concerto composed at the Court Of Saxony by a madman -but it's later revealed the music first surfaced in ancient Mesopotamia. The composition has Arabic symbols between the notes telling of a drug, "E-bow-guy-een" (a "Middle Eastern plant"!), that -when used while listening to the music -can open mythical dimensions. The listener experiences ecstasy/rapture of a kind known only to the Angels in Heaven and (legend has it) that in the notes one can hear the sound that brought the Biblical Walls Of Jericho tumbling down. Immediately after Heaven itself is experienced, however, Hell gives way and the listener hurls his/her self out the nearest window! Searching the night, Richard and Helen cross paths with the Professor's nephew -just returned from Arabia; the professor's tightly wound protégé who, in self-disgust, dons beatnik wig and hippie garb to moonlight as a DJ; "Loco" -a "Manson-like" guru holding sway over a bong-smoking "love cult"; Fanny (Romina Power) -"The Roumanian's" main squeeze; and a mysterious beggar with a hurdy-gurdy who seems to be stalking Richard. In this movie, standing directly under a window in Soho isn't advisable at all. What monster could have engineered all this murder and mayhem ...and why? Is "The Trumpet" truly something that no mortal man should ever hear? Is the "McGuffin" only a "McGuffin"? The movie is a "giallo", of course, but even I was surprised ...and I won't **spoil** the ending here.
"Trumpet" has all the requisite "giallo" fetishes associated with the genre: black gloves, trench-coats, fog, "gender deception" ...and a night-world that pulsates with life. With repeated viewings one notices that there are few, if any, people in the daytime world and these scenes only provide "Eurotrash Liz Taylor look-alike" Marilu' Tolo with a chance to model the latest Carnaby Street fashions. It's only after dark that London comes alive with orgiastic youth looking for thrills, highs and "kicks". When Richard asks "What's a Mouse Hole?", a "way out" space cadet deliriously tells him, "Aren't you hip, man? The music there is psych-a-delic!" Beautiful Romina Power (Tyrone Power & Linda Christian's daughter) scores in this opus as a hedonistic hippie femme fatale. She's incredibly hot in a "Simone Simon kitten-kinda" way and, once seen, isn't easily forgotten. Her character is similar to Gloria Grahame's in "The Big Heat" - sans "good side". After Richard pummels her boyfriend on the dance-club floor she later saves Richard from a back-alley beating by bringing him to her pad -telling him violence turns her on as she undresses him. When Richard rebuffs her advances she sets him up -seducing "Loco" (in a triple-cross!) and watches (munching popcorn) as "Loco's" cult thrashes Richard and nearly gang-rapes Helen.
"Trumpet's" dream-like illogic is one of it's special charms. The police are no help to Richard, preferring the mass-suicide theory, yet when "The Roumanian" goes sailing out a window, they rabidly pursue Richard as his murderer. More importantly, they're blind to the larger implications of the endless replication of the "McGuffin". The film ends rather abruptly with the cryptic last lines of dialog spoken in Italian (with no subtitles) but the final visual spells it all out for the perceptive viewer.
Tag line: "Perversion Story: A Terrifying Climax To A Frightening Situation!" The Spanish director, Julio Buchs, also helmed "Django Does Not Forgive" and Richard Conte's "Evil Eye". Highly recommended, of course, ...and best seen in a basement room with no windows! In a real-life tragedy that resonates with "Trumpet's" love-cult generation sensibility, Romina's daughter disappeared in the early 90's in New Orleans around Marti Gras time while a sadistic serial killer was loose -and was never seen again.
This film is yet another example of the annoying alternative title
trend that plagued Italian cinema in the sixties and seventies - the
film goes by the name 'Perversion Story', which is also an alternate
title for Lucio Fulci's masterpiece 'One on Top of the Other', as well
as Fulci's period drama 'Beatrice Cenci' - and all three films were
released in 1969! This gets even more annoying when you consider that
this particular film actually has an excellent title as one of it's
alternates in 'Trumpets of the Apocalypse', yet it most commonly takes
the title given to two other movies from the same year (which doesn't
make sense by the way). Madness! Anyway, what we have here is a little
known Giallo, and I'm not really surprised about that as the film
doesn't stand up too well against other genre entries. The film starts
with a sequence that sees someone fall out of a window screaming, right
in front of a copper. It turns out to be a music professor. The death
is ruled as suicide and soon another follows. From there, we follow an
investigation into the murder carried out by the brother and roommate
of one of the victims.
The film is set in London and the style of it could be summed up as 'sixties swing'. Director Julio Buchs, more experienced as a director of westerns, also implements a psychedelic feel into the movie which isn't badly done in itself, but doesn't add much to the story. The film features most of the Giallo trademarks, such as murder, an investigation red herrings etc although the plot doesn't flow very well which does the film no favours. There's not a lot of tension or suspense in the film and it does get boring on more than just a couple of occasions. The plot is very surreal even for a Giallo but whatever point it was trying to make doesn't come through very well. The plot focuses on a musical score, 'The Trumpets of the Apocalypse' and the film has a musical feel all the way through; although Umberto Lenzi did the musical Giallo (slightly) better in 1969 with Orgasmo (a.k.a. Paranoia). The ending comes as something of a surprise - though in truth I wasn't all that bothered who the murderer was by the end, but at least it mostly makes sense. I wouldn't recommend anyone goes out of their way to get a copy of this film...but it's a decent enough watch if you can find it.
The undeniably groovy 'Las Trompetas Del Apocalipsis (1969) (aka)
Murder by Music is somewhat of a curate's egg; as with most gialli it
is positively agog with laboured McGuffins, and is, again, festooned
with an atypically absurd premise; in this case the fug-headed scribe
suggests that a certain piece of esoteric music is able to engender
such a profoundly distressing malaise in the listener, that the
desperate individual must immediately hurl himself bodily from the
nearest window after listening to it. (this is clearly a prototype for
Katy Perry's indigestible, saccharine horrors!) It must be noted that
all said victims are fortuitously close to a high enough window that
would cause a permanent case of death, should one take the final
plunge,as it were. Much of the film has a gloomy, almost Edgar Wallace-
style view of London: dingy backstreet's; even dingier bars enlivened
with funky, ass-swinging psychedelic pop, and primordial-looking opium
den lend the film a wildly expressionistic feel, which captures the
tale end of the sixties as a beatnik apocalypse!
The welcome groove is supplied in mammoth doses by Gianni Ferrio's sublime score, a personal fave of mine, and he certainly doesn't disappoint with his wall-to-wall psyche-hippie-funk.
For those more jaded gialli fans who require their sleazy celluloid entertainments to include a plethora's of squeaky, be-gloved, ice-cool razor slashing into hot nubile flesh will be wholly disappointed, as this seems to be more of an anti-drugs polemic than a slinky extravaganza of high-octane misogyny.
The Italian title for this Spanish-Italian co-production, I CALDI AMORI DI UNA MINORENNE (which literally translates to "The Hot Loves Of A Minor") leads one to expect a mildly saucy sex comedy which proliferated in the Italian cinema between the late 60s and early 80s; the presence in the cast of Tyrone Power's daughter, Romina - who had previously appeared in the title role of Jesus Franco's MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE (1968) - only adds to this impression. However, what we actually get is something a lot different and even less appetizing. As it happens, despite being top-billed, Power's role is only secondary, and serves only as a red herring to boot. The plot deals with an inexplicable spate of suicides among London's Swinging 60s hippie youths and the subsequent investigation by one of the victims' brother among the underbelly of dope-addled, peace-loving, long-haired freaks who go by such tell-tale names as "The Fool", "The Prophet", "The Romanian", etc. Ultimately, the film isn't entirely disagreeable to watch, thanks in no small measure to its horrendously dated 'hipness', awful would-be psychedelic songs and risible dialogue. Apparently, the moral of the piece is that listening to music while under the influence of drugs eventually leads to suicide! Go figure...
My copy of this Spanish/Italian co-production, directed by the Spaniard,Julio Buchs, is titled, 'Murder by Music'. A lovely, ridiculous title that surely can have no pertinence to the story. But yes, it does! The more sombre sounding 'Trumpets' title refers to the actual piece of music that we are asked to believe can do the deadly deed. So far, so fun but although we get two deaths before the credits there is nothing particularly sensational going on and although we get some dance sequences, this becomes a plodding who dunnit. The fact that my print carried an English dub added to the feel of this being some 'Inspector of the Yard', Agatha Christie yarn rather than a full on giallo. Indeed there is barely a sex or bloody moment and disturbingly we actually get a couple of old fashioned 'romantic interludes'. The cast perform well and Romina Power impresses. I see that over the years she did not make more than twenty films, even though one was a Jess Franco and that she is still working today. It is a novel film but just a little bit irritating.
This movie is a pathetic mystery/thriller with anti-drug and anti-hippy
overtones. A slightly interesting premise (a drug that forces you to
commit suicide when you hear a certain piece of music), that is
completely ruined by a director with no eye for suspense or drama.
The characters are developed terribly and it is impossible to care about anything they do. The mystery is only slightly engrossing and the payoff at the end of the movie is only heightened due to the extremely dull buildup.
Ohhhh, I urge you, do not watch this drivel. If this ever gets a proper American release, AVOID it at all costs.
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