Sexually perverse, but not necessarily sexy, Italian giallo
Although sex was an important element in Italian gialli, its importance is sometimes overstated. In the 1970's, not only gialli but even the staid Hammer films in England were injecting gratuitous full-frontal nudity into their movies in order to compete with the hardcore porno that had taken over low-budget cinema in much of continental Europe. In addition, since collectors and DVD buyers today always demand "uncut" versions of these films, the prints sometimes contain near-hardcore footage that was not in the original film but was only put in as "inserts" to sell them in more liberal territories (i.e. the scenes of an obvious body double for Rosalba Neri pleasuring herself in "Slaughter Hotel"). This movie, made late in the gialli cycle, is somewhat unusual therefore in that the sex is not just commercial and gratuitous, but is an essential part of the plot.
The movie starts with a scene (missing from some prints) of a young man (John Phillip-Law)raping and murdering a woman on a train. Later he rents a room from an elderly wheelchair-bound voyeur (Fernando Rey) and his much younger "wife" (Olga Bisneros). The elderly man enjoys watching the younger man through the a hole in the wall where he has set up a periscope-like device. There is something decidedly homoerotic about this. The first thing he sees, for instance, is the younger man get forcibly raped by a big black guy he has picked up at a cheesy disco (where a German-looking extra takes all her clothes off to a wretched disco beat). Then he sends his "wife" over to seduce the young man, and its eventually revealed the true nature of the couple's relationship and how he came to be in the wheelchair. And if the main plot isn't sleazy enough there's also a subplot involving the chauffeur who, when he isn't collecting the wife's pubic hair from the drain in her bathtub, is talking a naive teenage girl (Monica "Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals" Zanchi) into giving him oral favors.
Obviously, this movie is quite a collection of psychopathia sexualis (people like Freud and Reich would have loved it). Which is not to say it is necessarily very sexy (unless impotence, voyeurism, rape, gay interracial rape, pubic-hair fetishes, wife-swapping, child abuse, incest, and bad disco music really turn you on). But there is something fascinating about the sheer wretched excess of perversity on display here. The only thing I could compare it to is the (obviously much better) David Cronenberg movie "Crash" which also takes sexuality beyond titillation into a pathologically perverse and almost alien realm.
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