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Kidnapping movies were really big in the 1970's, especially after
several high-profile cases like Patty Hearst. The Italian exploitation
industry is notorious for taking its cues from the US movies, but that
may not have been the case here since there was even a bigger
kidnapping problem in Italy (eventually leading to the kidnap and
murder of a former prime minister by the notorious Red Brigades). The
kidnappers in this movie though are pretty low-rent types, barely
connected to the Mafia. Their victim is a very spoiled, but perhaps not
especially rich, teenage girl (Rena Neihaus) whose parents seem
unable--or perhaps unwilling--to get her back (she hints at an
incestuous relationship with her stepfather which might have been
explored in the sequel to this "Oedipus Orca"). In this movie the
youngest, most handsome kidnapper (Michele Placido) falls for the girl
in kind of a reverse Stockholm syndrome, with tragic results for at
least one of them. The end of movie, strangely enough, is kind of
reminiscent of "Last Tango in Paris" but with nowhere near the dramatic
The movie is generally lacking in character development. The film at one point follows the creepiest-looking gangster (Flavio Bucci from the "The Night Train Murders") to his home where he is shacking up with another gangster's wife and her kid, but more than character development this seems to be more an excuse for another sex scene. The Placido character has an interesting flashback of him working on a filthy fishing barge, which is contrasted with a fantasy where he is piloting a yacht. This movie is very class-conscious in the way it has this poor Sicilian boy falling for a rich, northern girl (the Italian title "La Orca" comes from the designer outfit she's wearing). Placido is pretty good here, but this handsome, light-complexioned hunk is not too convincing as a lower-class Sicilian ruffian. As for Neihaus, I can't decide if she is a bad actress, or is just playing a really obnoxious character (she's more Paris Hilton than Patty Hearst). She does get naked several times which, judging from the English, title was the primary consideration.
This movie has a bit of a bad reputation, but I don't know why. It's not nearly as brutal as similarly-themed American films like "Date with a Kidnapper" or "The Candy Snatchers". I believe Niehaus' character is underage, but the actress obviously wasn't (she'd been in "Playboy" two years earlier). Maybe it offended people that the victim is made so unsympathetic, but that doesn't explain why she returns in a sequel. . . I dunno. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oedipus Orca is the sequel to La Orca both directed by Visconti and
starring Rena Niehaus. In La Orca a high school aged girl played by
Niehaus is kidnapped and held for ransom, while the second movie
Oedipus Orca is about her life with her family and boyfriend after she
returns home. The first film was somewhat controversial and labeled
pornographic by some due to its exploitive nudity and sexuality
involving a teenage girl (Rena is rumoured to have actually been 21 or
22 at the time). The first movie is actually pretty good with a great
ending, while the second is less focused and sometimes seems like it
was done purely as an exploitive film. SPOILER ALERT!, From here on.
La Orca is largely about the girl's relationship with her kidnappers. One of them sexually molests her in a fairly explicit scene. After that she uses sex with him as a way to gain favors and eventually ends up controlling the relationship. She has her revenge at the end a moment before the police arrive to rescue her.
Oedipus Orca begins with her return home. The exploitive side as the film series continues as she is nude every few minutes. She once again uses sex to her advantage against a family friend. This movie has lots of flashbacks to the first film and deals with her emotional state a lot. The most memorable is when she visits the room she was held captive in and masturbates while recalling having sex with her captor. It makes as strong a statement as I can think of, of how the mind can be twisted by such a situation.
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