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Yeah, well. This is one of the very few Swiss films that get financed in whole by private investors, and they tried to make a modern version of the story by Gottfried Keller that brings the young Swiss folks into the cinemas. But why set the story in the middle of the 19th century??? I guess it would have been wiser to shift the plot into the present time.
This film fails because it wants to be a romance, an adventure, a drama and a comedy at the same time. Although there are elements of all these genres, there is not enough of everything to make the film what it wants to be. In the last 10 minutes it becomes clear that this film marks the return of the so-called "Heimatfilm", so in the end the film is just a piece of new Swiss Folklore.
The main characters are played by amateur actors, the male lead Fabien Rohrer being one of the best Swiss snow boarders and the female lead Kisha being one of the more successful pop starlets of the country. In smaller roles, there are also TV hosts. And this is another problem: These people try very hard, but they are just no actors... Good luck that the comedian Erich Vock has also got an important role, so he saves the film's acting to a certain degree.
All in all a woefully banal, rather embarrassing movie, even for Swiss standards.
Essential early Giallo
This thriller by renowned Italian screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi is a very early Giallo - made just shortly after Mario Bava's first modern Italian thriller SEI DONNE PER L'ASSASSINO (1964) that is considered being the first real Giallo at all. But LIBIDO, shot in black and white, is not only one of the earliest Gialli. It is also one of the most accomplished - even though it was made in less than three weeks according to Gastaldi.
Christian (Giancarlo Giannini in his first movie) returns to the house by the sea where he grew up. He's accompanied by his fiancée and a befriended couple. As a child, he witnessed his father killing his mistress before jumping over a cliff. With the return, Christian should finally overcome his childhood trauma that emerged. As soon as he is back in his old home, though, Christian sees strange things that lead him to the assumption his father must still be alive.
Only one location (the house and the immediate environment), only four actors for most of the time - plus plenty of thrills and psychological terror make this one a winner. LIBIDO starts with a quote by Sigmund Freud. It can't get much more appropriate than that, because of all Gialli, this is the most Freudian one (and there are quite a bunch). Towards the climax, the plot twists pile up, of course, and they all do not only work, but are also clever and surprising (and try to do that with only a quartet of characters).
LIBIDO is a classic of its genre - essential viewing for Giallo fans and thus not to be missed.
Al tropico del cancro (1972)
Unusual Giallo mixed up with Haitian voodoo rituals
A scientist invents a hallucinatory drug. Interest of different dubious people in this new drug lead to betrayal and murder.
This rather underrated and lesser known Italian thriller certainly has its flaws, nonetheless it belongs to the most innovative films of its genre that was booming in the early 1970s. Thanks to its fresh ideas packed in a traditional Giallo plot, it really stands out of the bulk, even though 1972 is probably the most Giallo-intense year ever. The most remarkable moments include feverish dream sequences that are erotic and nightmarish at the same time. The dreams are induced by similarly feverish Haitian voodoo rituals that feature mondo-style animal killing (there is also a non-ritualistic animal killing shown in a slaughterhouse - traces of social comment, obviously).
The erotic moments are more frequent and sensual than in the average Giallo, and they are very well done (as already mentioned, especially the dreams). The body count is also above average, and in the second half, the movie boosts some murders as creative as they are brutal. It also delivers elements of the spy film genre - drugs can always be sold for big money. And the climax is not necessarily Giallo-typical.
The leading cast consists of genre regulars: Anthony Steffen plays the inventive scientist and Gabriele Tinti the "hero"; Anita Strindberg is Grace, the woman with the unnerving dreams. On the other hand, the two directors are barely known and none of them made another Giallo (Edoardo Mulargia shot a few Westerns and some Women-in-Prison stuff, but nothing really significant).
AL TROPICO DEL CANCRO is not a masterpiece, but it's a sleeper of the genre with enough original and surprising elements to make it highly recommendable to the fans of the genre.
Zinksärge für die Goldjungen (1973)
Exciting mob war in Hamburg
This violent crime film from Jürgen Roland is the definitive German mafia thriller - and together with Rolf Olsen's breathtaking and even more thrilling BLUTIGER FREITAG the best German crime movie of the Seventies (note that both films are in fact German-Italian co-productions, which I think explains a lot).
Herbert Fleischmann leads the cast as Hamburg business man Otto Westermann, who is also the boss of the organized crime in the city. His reign as godfather is in danger, though, as ambitious Sicilian mafioso Luca Messina enters the North German metropolis, coming directly from New York. Messina's goal is clear and simple: He wants to take over Hamburg. But Westermann isn't as easy to defeat as the Sicilian expects. And soon Hamburg is on the verge of a bloody mob war.
The ace of this movie is without a doubt Henry Silva in the role of Messina, who once more gives a frenetic performance as in most genre films of that time (two of many other examples are IL BOSS and QUELLI CHE CONTANO). But Herbert Fleischmann is also perfect in his role, and the two actors fight a great battle throughout the movie.
There are also some great action scenes, mainly the climactic speed boat chase sequence, preceding the similar chase in the fine Dutch thriller AMSTERDAMNED for 15 years. The final twist is magnificent, even though slightly predictable. The only negative point to make about the film is the unnecessary love story between Westermann's son and Messina's daughter, which diminishes the flow of the story considerably. Otherwise, ZINKSÄRGE FÜR DIE GOLDJUNGEN is an exciting crime movie and definitely not to be missed by aficionados of the genre.
Más allá del terror (1980)
Weird and violent mix of biker movie and horror film
A quartet of homicidal youth delinquents on motorbikes goes on a bloody rampage: After gunning down all the staff and customers of a small bar and taking two hostages, they intrude the home of an old lady and kill her too. Dying, she spells a curse on the murderous youths who continue their escape and reach an old, now desecrated church in the middle of nowhere. At this creepy place, strange things start to happen...
What a delightfully obscure and sleazy production! This strange, but thoroughly original film has to be seen to be believed. The actors are rather bad, the production values are very low, but the affair never ever becomes tedious - there are just too many stunning ideas thrown into the plot for good measure, and most of them work. One particularly insane sequence has the gang celebrating sort of a black mass in the church, during which one of the gang members proclaims crazy and stupid things while masturbating! Towards the climax, even the living dead have their appearance in the most chilling sequence of the film. And, of course, there's also some gore for splatter freaks (one scene being very splashy).
MAS ALLA DEL TERROR is unique in many ways. It's neither a masterpiece nor a technically remarkable movie, and the logic of the plot is often non-existent. But it's such an energetic bag of surprises and fun details that it makes a cool partytape for all lovers of exciting trash.
Sleazy variation on the old snuff theme
Veteran sleazeball Bruno Mattei is at it again with this erotic thriller that clearly echoes Joel Schumacher's 8MM. But, as expected, Mattei does his movie on a minuscule budget - so that it already looks obscure when it's newly released.
After her daughter gets abducted, a mother enters the dark world of underground pornography, because the kidnappers belong to an international organization that direct snuff films as long as the exclusive clients pay well. The search for her daughter does not only lead the mother across Europe, but also into prostitution. She goes to bed with some guys to get her clues. When she finally reaches contact with the snuff organization lead by the mysterious Doctor Hades, she's getting into great danger herself.
There is not much good to say about this one, even though it starts promising. Problem is that the movie is by far not as sleazy or explicit as one might expect from the director who made films like BLADE VIOLENT. SNUFF TRAP (which was first released in Russia!) is neither gory enough nor does it contain the amount of nudity and sex to really keep the viewer's attention. The plot isn't that special either, except maybe for the surprisingly many different locations throughout Europe. The ending is hugely disappointing. The acting isn't really remarkable either, except for Anita Auer who plays Doctor Hades: She looks and acts extremely creepy. You don't want to meet her like this in a dark alley (or Your bedroom, for that matter).
All in all, SNUFF TRAP only appeals to collectors of Bruno Mattei's films. But it's good to see the man back on the helm again: It was his first thriller since 1994's giallo GLI OCCHI DENTRO.
Inspektor Perrak greift ein (1970)
Extremely funny predecessor of TV Inspector Derrick
Before becoming literally world famous for his series role of Oberinspektor Derrick of Munich police's homicide squad, Horst Tappert played the title role of Inspector Perrak of Hamburg vice squad. And this film has to be seen to be believed - it's like a prototype for the TV series that started four years later. The only real difference is that Perrak is intendedly funny at times and so becomes an extremely entertaining affair that delivers also many unintended gags.
Especially memorable is Tappert himself. He plays Perrak like a caricature of the forthcoming Derrick, and he does it great. The plot delivers the kinky moments that are typical for the early 1970s, with Perrak investigating the murder of a transvestite prostitute. His inquiry leads him to all kinds of red light establishments and adds to the entertainment. The case becomes personal for Perrak when his son Joschi gets kidnapped by thugs towards the end to guarantee an exciting climax.
A must see for friends of obscure German films of the Seventies. Besides Horst Tappert, the rest of the cast is also remarkable: Erika Pluhar and Judy Winters play the female leads, Werner Peters gives his penultimate performance in a theatrical movie, forthcoming "Derrick" and "Der Alte" regular Wolf Roth plays a young criminal in one of his earliest roles, and now well known comedian Jochen Busse appears as a contract killer! This movie has it all - but don't expect something else than trashy entertainment.
Il terzo occhio (1966)
A descent into madness...
Contains Spoiler! This lesser known early Giallo tells the story of a young count (played by a very young looking Franco Nero) who loses his sanity completely after his fiancée has died in a car accident. The accident happened because the jealous housekeeper of the count and his dominant mother sabotaged the fiancée's car. The young count takes the body back home, only to learn that his mother has died too. She died after the housekeeper had pushed her down the stairs and beaten to death. So, now the count is alone with the murderous housekeeper, and he himself starts to kill every woman he takes home with him. The housekeeper helps him, but only to pursue her own interests. One year later, the sister of the dead fiancée appears, and she looks just like her...
Mainly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (the overtly dominant mother, the count likes to prepare dead animals, hints on necrophilia), this sinister thriller was also the inspiration for Aristide Massacesi's best horror film "Buio Omega" (1979). Filmed in black and white, it boosts an uncomfortable atmosphere throughout, and even though it's not very graphic, there are some unpleasantly violent scenes (especially a stabbing towards the end of the movie). There is also a squirm inducing sequence when the count eviscerates a dead bird to prepare it. The only thing with the movie that is annoying are the credits: Almost all people involved are credited with phony English aliases.
"Il Terzo Occhio" is a catching movie which deserves to be rediscovered by an audience keen to the Thriller and Giallo genre. For my part, I can't understand why the movie is that little known. Rating: 7 out of 10.
Nice idea, arbitrary conclusion
This Spanish-Italian co-produced Giallo belongs to the more obscure outings of the cult genre. Most people involved in the making were Spaniards, and it has never got a release in Italy, which is unique for a film of that kind.
In Milan, a killer slays drug addicts, prostitutes and other "immoral" people in nasty ways. Small dragonflies (made of wax or something like that) are left on the bodies of the victims. And the more people die, the more clues lead the investigating inspector to believe that the killer is a mutual friend of his wife and himself.
The film's premise is quite interesting, although not too original. The body count is surprisingly high, although they are not as graphic as in some other Gialli. Nevertheless, the murder scenes are quite nasty. Paul Naschy (who also starred in the probably best Spanish Giallo "Los Ojos Azules de la Muneca Rota" and in the Jack-the-Ripper-inspired "Sette Cadaveri per Scotland Yard") is casted against type as the investigating officer (in the afore mentioned two Gialli he was an innocent and rather tragic suspect), and Erika Blanc does a good job as the inspector's wife who knows the killer quite well - unknowingly, of course.
The problem of the film is that it becomes arbitrary after a good start. Especially the identity of the killer doesn't convince very much, his or her motive as arbitrary as the maniac's identity. Also, some scenes with the inspector investigating are merely brought in to include fight scenes or nude scenes instead of pushing the plot forward. And for good measure, there is also a gang of thugs wearing Nazi-style clothes! All in all, "Una Libelula Para cada Muerto" surely is funny and interesting for Giallo collectors, but don't expect to watch a genre movie above average.
Le regine (1970)
Great climax repays for slow start
This rare French-Italian coproduction tells the story of David (Ray Lovelock), a young hippie, who meets three mysterious, but beautiful young women in the woods by a lake. They take him under their spell, and when he finds out, it's too late.
Tonino Cervi's film is an atmospheric horror movie with erotic moments and some psychedelic sequences. Ray Lovelock boosts one of his earliest sympathetic performances in an Italian genre film, and the three seductive women of evil, among them Ewelyn (Ida Galli) Stewart, are convincing as well. Too bad that the movie has an awfully long time to take off, the first part gets boring as it proceeds. But the second part repays well, especially the final 20 minutes that culminate in a really harrowing climax that should satisfy every horror buff. Rating: 6 out of 10.
By the way: Ray Lovelock also features as composer and performer of the film's two songs, which are quite nice to listen to.