La belva dalle calda pelle" (literally: The Beast With Hot Skin") is a movie which is marketed to the wrong audience, I'm afraid. At least I have no better explanation for the low average rating here. Having a sex symbol like Laura Gemser at number one of the cast plus stills showing grim mercenaries with machine guns surely appeals to people looking for a fast food" sex and violence flick, but writer and director Bruno Fontana clearly had ambitions beyond that. In the beginning, we see Sheila (Laura Gemser - not Emanuelle" here despite the American title) leading one soldier into a trap and kill him. Then she meets 4 of his comrades and sweetly offers to guide them to the border. We don't know which country it is (seemingly African, but actually shot on Cyprus island), who the soldiers fight for or why they are lost. At this point, the movie is an excellent trip into the Heart of Darkness echoing Apocalypse Now", and it is not far fetched to presume that was an important influence on La belva dalle calda pelle" which was shot shortly afterwards.
Sheila awakens anger and frustration in those men who try and rape her, or jealously attack each other. She causes adoration slowly turning into fear. You are a tigress and I am a lion", says the leader of the mercenaries. We have a lot in common." More than he thinks at the time... Interior monologue and manic close-ups are increasing the tension. After 40 minutes, the metaphysical qualities of the movie are hampered by a long flashback, though, which neatly explains the story: how the mercenaries got there, what Sheila's motivation is, who this guy without a uniform (Gabriele Tinti) is and so on. This certainly is a lack of elegance in the movie way of story telling, maybe because the first-time director was a writer in the first place and thought in chapters rather than a flow of pictures. Composer Paolo Rustichelli (son of the famous Carlo Rustichelli who scored countless movies, too) provides one of his earliest works, a deliberately synthetic soundtrack like it was used in science fiction movies of the 1980s, certainly en vogue at the time, but it adds a sense of weirdness and uneasiness to the movie which obviously isn't SF, but occasionally existentialistic. In my personal view - despite the flaws in the middle - a movie waiting to be rediscovered.
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