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Not exactly a movie for the kiddies, I would consider 1972's Delirium to
some what of a grade B Giallo. The production is okay, the acting not bad,
the dialogue average, but the violence is over the top with several
murder scenes. There is also way more nudity than your average Giallo.
There are two versions, the American (85 minutes) and the European (102 minutes). The American version starts out with the main character, Herbert Lyutak, getting wounded in Vietnam. The movie mixes stock footage from the war with newly filmed scenes in a pretty ungraceful job of editing. But we
do learn that Herbert was born in Hungary and immigrated to the US in 1961 and joined the army in 1962. He has done three tours of duty in Vietnam and is a decorated, model soldier. He has been wounded and is being taken away in a helicopter. He is looking at a nurse and she changes into another woman who we soon find out is his wife, Marcia, played by the lovely Rita Calderoni (The Reincarnation of Isabel, Nude for Satan). Right after the credits we get to see Herbert pick up a girl in a bar and drive her out to a remote spot, chase her into a stream and then strip her and beat her to death. It's a pretty violent scene and not for the squeamish. Of course that could apply to almost every murder in this movie.
The European version really is quite different than the American release and I thought it had a more coherent story. Both versions are a bit confusing but the European version is more consistant. It also skips the whole Vietnam segment which wasn't very well done anyway. The endings are both quite different as well and a couple murders are filmed differently also.
I don't want to give away too much but we do know that Herbert murders a girl at the beginning of both versions and after that it is a bit of a cat and mouse with the cops who are trying to solve the murders along with Herbert who is a criminal psychologists and suposed to be helping them in the investigation. His wife starts having weird S&M dreams invloving her husband as the sadist and their maid and another woman who we later find out is her niece. Ther three women fondle and kiss each other while Herebert watches. The editing from the dreams to reality is a bit confusing and at one point early in the film Herbert does beat and cut Marcia as a substitution for sex which he can't perform with his wife. He does seem troubled about his violent tendencies and does not want to unleash his murderous ways on his wife. But he does like looking at her throat which is a very enticing part of female anatomy for him.
The picture on the European version looks fine and is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. The American version however is missing a couple sections of the original so Anchor Bay had to take some Dutch footage from a VHS copy and splice it in. So you are watching and all of a sudden the picture gets worse and there are Dutch subtitles! But we are talking only a couple minutes worth so it is pretty minor actually. There is also a recently filmed 14 minute interview with director and writer Renato Polselli and Actor Mickey Hargitay which is pretty good really. I watched the US version, then the interview, and then the European version of the film. I did have more of an appreciation for the film after the watching the interview and as I said earlier, the European version is overall a better and more coherent storyline. The US version is dubbed in English and the European version is in Italian with English subtitles. Overall not too bad if you like extreme Giallo. Not nearly as good as say, What Have You Done With Solange, or most Bava's or Argento's, but certainly worthy of $15 or so.
This is nasty stuff. Surprisingly strong for a 1972 movie, Polselli's
over-complex and contrived giallo happily depicts what other people would
only dare hint to in a number of jaw-droppingly misogynistic scenes of
sexual violence. In one remarkably unpleasant scene, a black gloved
masturbates a female victim as he strangles her. I find it surprising
movies like NEW YORK RIPPER are so infamous when extreme stuff like this
GIALLO A VENEZIA exist. It's quite amazing that these films were made at
all, let alone had a cinema release!
Focusing away from the violence, this is actually a pretty well made and tight giallo. Whilst a lot more sleazy than some of the classy entries into the genre, Polselli hits the viewer with some relatively innovative scenes and camera-work. The plot is hilariously winding- I won't give too much away, but fans of the more ridiculous giallos will not be disappointed. There is also a definite undercurrent of black humour, particularly in some of the scenes of violence. I think it is safe to say that the misogynistic humour will be left misunderstood by most.
Unfortunately, DELIRIUM fell victim to distributor re-cutting in a big way. The American version is hugely different to the original Italian release, losing a lot of violence, gaining some new footage, and asa result suffering quite marked changes to the plot itself! The different versions are really quite different, and I'd advise any giallo collector to check out both. By all accounts, the French print of the movie is the most complete "uncut" form. Definitely worth a look for fans of giallos and of good, honest cinematic scum.
Whenever I take a look at today's big multiplex cinemasm playing nothing but dreck, I'm really happy, that, in better times, films like this one have been made: "Delirio Caldo" is a sick, a-logical and hilariously funny thriller, the nightmare of any "cineaste". There's lots of violence, psychedelic colours, stylish cinematography and enough of that naive "misogyny" prevalent in 70ies cinema to make any PC-feminists break out in tears. What else could one ask for? Be sure not to miss this treat. And, by the way, watch the continental cut, as the english-dubbed version has been shorn of nearly 20 minutes of fun!
Thanks to a certain gray market outfit in south Florida that searches
for obscure videos, I got stuck with the shorn American print of this
movie, but it does have some very ridiculous added "Vietnam" footage
which might make it the first movie ever to deal with the fallout from
that war. A deranged Vietnam vet and forensic psychologist is driven by
his traumatic war experiences (and implied impotence) to murder
mini-skirted Italian co-eds (just like he did in 'Nam I'm sure). His
loyal wife tries to cover up for him the only way she knows how. Mickey
Hargitay is the name star. After seeing "Bloody Pit of Horror" I had no
trouble buying him as a deranged killer, but a police
psychologist?--c'mon. Mickey had apparently been making bad movies in
Italy for so long by this point that he'd started speaking with an
Italian accent. (Seriously, why did they cast third-rate American
actors in these movies and then dub them when they're speaking
English?). Rita Calderoni plays the wife. She wasn't a bad actress, but
the enjoyment of her performance varies inversely with the amount of
clothes she is wearing, and she's a little overdressed here (if you
want to see a lot more of her check out the appropriately named "Nude
for Satan"). There are also a lot of anonymous Italian girls in
impossibly short minis (unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of
sleazy movie that looks up their skirts while they're being strangled
or shows them topless after they're dead). There's also a strange,
recurring dream sequence where a shirtless Mickey strangles himself
with a chain while his naked wife, maid(!),and college-age niece(!!)
all writhe around on the floor at his feet.
Anchor Bay apparently has included both this version and the longer European version on their legitimate DVD and it costs half as much used as what the more unscrupulous bootleggers are charging. Avoid just getting the American version, but I would recommend this to moral degenerates who enjoy this kind of sleazy, Italian-made filth (you know who you are).
The English-language print of this movie is incoherent. It adds stupid Vietnam footage throughout and cuts out all references to the fact that it takes place in England, as well as all the sexual violence, the lesbian relationship between the killer's wife and her maid, and the killer's "masturbation" scene. In the European version there are three killers but here there are only two, and the ending is completely different. The American version adds two murders that were left on the cutting room floor of the European version, but they're unimportant to the story. The final third of this movie has sequences that are basically incomprehensible and the film ends with a tacked-on series of stills from different sex scenes from the film! This may have satisfied the grind house audience of the Seventies but nearly thirty years later it just seems tame and silly. Anchor Bay needs to find the full version of this one and get it out on dvd. As it stands now it's a disappointment.
Our good friends over at the Wikipedia website define the term
"Delirium" as follows: an acute and relatively sudden decline in
attention-focus, perception, and cognition. It is commonly associated
with a disturbance of consciousness. Fair enough! That appropriately
describes both the main characters' behavior in this film and the
spontaneous reactions of us, the viewers! The least you can say about
"Delirium" is that it is one strange movie. Not just the plot lines and
character drawings are demented and - oh yeah - delirious), but even
the cut, edit and release treatment it received back in the early 70's
was highly unusual and peculiar. There exist two principal version of
this film, which both feature on the fancy Anchor Bay release, namely
the original Italian "Director's Cut" and the heavily altered American
version. Most of the reviews and user-comments I encountered avidly
discourage people to watch the American version, but I on the other
hand, feel that BOTH versions are essential viewing. If possible, you
should even watch one straight after the other, filter different
aspects & sub plots of both versions together and mentally edit them
back together in order to make up your very own final cut! Granted, the
American version opens and finishes with a completely goofy and
irrelevant Vietnam-trauma sub plot (illustrated through ancient
recovered footage with Dutch subtitles!), but it also contains at least
one supplementary and highly engrossing killing sequence and in my
humble opinion the grand finale twists make much more sense here than
in the original version. The director's cut is far gloomier and digs
deeper into the main characters mental background, but it only just
becomes a true Giallo highlight when mixed with elements of the
Now, don't immediately fear that "Delirium" is an overly complex and inaccessible Giallo because of all this driveling about versions, because it's not! It's your basic and wondrously demented early 70's Giallo, rich on perverted themes, nudity & sleaze, sadistic killings and far-fetched red herrings. The story opens promising with a hunky middle-aged guy (real-life body building champ Mickey Hargitay) picking up a teenage girl in a bar and savagely murdering her in the middle of a mudflat river. Usually the purpose of a Giallo is to keep the killer's identity secret until the climax, but Renato Polselli clearly doesn't bother to do this. The first and highly ingenious twist promptly comes after the intro, however, as the same guy who we just witnessed committing a murder turns out to be a criminology psychologist. He, Herbert Lyutak, cooperates with the police regarding the series of disturbing murders, which naturally puts him above all suspicion. We also meet his wife Marcia, who loves him to death, and his horny housemaid who not so secretly craves for his body. We also learn a bit about Herbert's sexual-related issues that clarify his murderous tendencies. More gruesome murders of sexy young coeds follow; only now Herbert always has indisputable alibis. Is there suddenly a copycat killer? Does Herbert have an evil twin brother? The outcome of this riddle is fairly logic and easy to predict, but Polselli nevertheless maintains an admirably high level of tension and involvement. He inserts inventive sub plots (like vivid hallucinations of lesbian-laughter orgies and the innocent prime suspect's private investigation) and you undeniably look forward to each next gory murder that waits just around the corner. The soundtrack in this particular Giallo is slightly below average, but the photography is beautiful and surprisingly artsy considering the low budget, with an imaginative use of colors and POV shots. Even after starring in numerous low-keyed Italian smut movies (including the decadent "Bloody Pit of Horror"), Hargitay remains a horrible actor, but at least "Delirium" stars a series of indescribably hot wenches, and they all willingly takes their clothes of in front of the camera. This is a fabulously sensational piece of Italian cult cinema and comes highly recommended to fans with a healthy sense for adventure.
The best translation for "Delirio caldo" would be hot delirium. When a
desire (specially when it is a deep desire) is not fulfilled, it may
turn into delirium.
The film begins with sexual violence followed by murder and the identity of the killer is revealed right away. Well, I'm not giving anything away - this is the very beginning of the film. The killer is Dr. Herbert Lyutak (Mickey Hargitay). And this murder is just another one of a series of murders committed against pretty girls. When Dr. Herbert Lyutak returns home, his wife Marzia (beautiful Rita Calderoni) is waiting for him. Their marriage is not working, but she loves him very much. Marzia has suspicions about his alternative life, but she'll do everything for him.
Other murders will happen and suddenly we are not so sure anymore about who really is the murderer. There are other characters, such as Joaquine (Marzia's niece) and the maid who works for Dr. Herbert and Marzia. Dr. Herbert is a psychiatrist that, ironically enough, helps the police in their investigations. From then on the story will unfold in many directions.
"Delirio Caldo" is a very sensual film. The actors are committed to their roles. Rita Calderoni seems to melt all over when touched by Mickey Hargitay - Her liquid eyes roll and seem to vanish in an expression of ecstasy.
Marzia dreams a lot. In her night dreams strange and erotic visions go through her mind, but in her daydreams, Marzia conjures kitschy visions of a normal happy life.
Marzia's niece, Joaquine (Christa Barrymore) has also intense feelings for someone and even the maid will have her moment of divine ecstasy.
The soundtrack is very good and underlines the different moods of the film - frenzy, tenderness "noir", romanticism etc..
"Delirio Caldo" is at the same time wild, tragic, pathetic and romantic, if I'm allowed to use so many adjectives. Open up your heart and mind and see this sensual and delirious masterpiece.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
DELIRIUM (Renato Polselli - Italy 1972).
If it's sleazy '70s exploitation you're looking for, packed with sexual violence and some truly twisted proceedings, look no further. I've watched some weird stuff in my lifetime, but this one truly hits the mark. Clearly, Polselli is a first-class hack and this is an incredibly shoddy piece of work, but somehow it was compelling enough (or just plain weird) to keep watching. I'm not sure though what that says about the film's qualities. At least it says something...
Hungarian muscle man Mickey Hargitay is criminal psychologist Dr. Herbert Lyutak who picks up a sweet young thing at a local bar, and gets the uncontrollable urge to strangle her at the sight of the girls legs. This is one wacky doctor that turns out to be a homicidal maniac, or is he? The local police doesn't suspect him, that's for sure, and treat him with the utmost respect. As a criminal psychologist, they even consult him to catch the culprit. The investigating police officers don't seem very trustworthy of a murder investigation. The one in charge is a skinny, somewhat suspicious looking chap, wearing a garish red blouse through the entire film (this is 1972, ya know). His assistant is a seriously groovy dude, impeccably coiffured with a perfectly trimmed beard and wearing some very cool Italian suits. No, he does not look tacky at all, the latest fashions is all he wears. But this was the English countryside, I digress.
The primary source of income for the local female population seems to walk the streets, mostly on deserted country roads or the village square, where they don't seem to do a lot of business. It's only a small village, after all. But it's very convenient for deranged sex killers with a taste for young women. Problem is, our two police officers haven't got a clue how to crack the case. Even after the fifth killing, the two detectives come little further than exclaiming this is yet another identical case. They come up with the luminous idea of using some woman as bait (she was actually not just someone, but I can't remember) who is also killed, but these two don't hesitate to use this tactic again and employ some more female bait. To complicate matters, Dr. Lyutak's beautiful wife (Rita Calderoni) is tormented by visions of medieval torture and lesbian orgies, a perfect excuse to throw in some more naked female flesh and gratuitous torture scenes.
Rather distracting is the film's English setting, unconvincingly done as usual in Italian films, since the film excels in very picturesque outdoor scenes in the Italian countryside and even a shot from a roof that immediately betrays the location as Rome(!). To make up for its completely nonsensical "plotline", Polselli throws in three killers(!) and since there are no likable characters in the film anyway, the only way to watch this is for an almost continuous wacky stream of hallucinations involving torture SM-style, chain whipping, bondage, masturbation and lost of killings of course. It's a glorious mess, but Polselli keeps the action going, so it's never really dull.
Anchor Bay presents this as an "astonishing 1972 oddity by the notorious Renato Polselli (under the pseudonym Ralph Brown)." Well, this oddity is presented in both the Italian and U.S versions, which are radically different. The American version opens with Vietnam footage explaining how Dr. Lyutak got his trauma, an explanation completely lacking in the Italian version. Regarding the American version, Anchor Bay neatly explains the original Vietnam footage was lost and some of this footage was taken and inserted in this version from a Danish VHS-copy and is presented with subtitles. To my surprise, it's actually a Dutch copy they used here, the subtitles were unmistakeably Dutch. Furthermore, in the American version, Hungarian born Mickey Hargitay's own voice is used (he only spoke English, no Italian), but his accent is even thicker than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his early days (which Hargitay humorously admits in an accompanying interview), so it's very hard to understand what he's saying. Incidentally, Schwarzenegger would even play Mickey Hargitay in the 1980 film THE JAYNE MANSFIELD STORY!
In any case, the Italian version is taken from a much better print, so I'd advise anyone to start with that one.
Camera Obscura --- 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The late bodybuilder/actor Mickey Hargitay stars as a criminal
psychologist moonlighting as an unstable sex maniac who murders
mini-skirted young women because of his impotency. The luscious and
full-figured Rita Calderoni plays his beautiful wife who starts
suffering from nightmares of medieval torture and lesbian orgies. The
two leads are unwittingly pawns in this muddled, if hypnotic oddity of
Italia sleaze that won't please the fainthearted but will delight grind
After viewing this film a second time, there are some flaws that I would like to point out. Renato Polselli (under the pseudonym Ralph Brown) directs with such competent gusto in a blatant attempt to explore the deeper psychosis of Hargitay and Calderoni. The dialog is so painfully uninspired and over-dramatic that it felt like a demented version of Mexican soap operas. On the positive side, Ugo Brunelli's psychedelic cinematography perfectly captures what it's like for the audience to be trapped in hell. And if you thought the murder scenes were bad, take a gander at the lesbian fantasy sequence if you dare.
The Blue Underground release, obliviously a reprint from the Anchor Bay DVD, contains two different versions of DELIRUIM. The crappy, dubbed American version makes it worse with tacked on beginning and end sequences of Hargitay's psychological trauma as a soldier serving in Vietnam. The coherent, Italian language version contains more explicit material and different subplots which is a slight improvement to the latter cut. As a recommendation, the longer 102-minute cut is probably the best version to go for.
I thought that the impious happenings in the Reincarnation of Isabelle couldn't be surpassed. Well I proved myself wrong after I witnessed this little picture. Although i enjoyed the film, I felt a little disappointed at times. I thought that the character of Rita Calderoni was a little over the top and i just expected more with the sexual content. The dialogue became a little risible at times and the plot to predictable. I didn't care for the ending either but overall it worked. Don't forget to check out the domestic release that is featured on the anchor bay dvd and witness for yourself how the Americans can destroy a film.
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