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While searching for their estranged mother, two beautiful sisters, Dagmar and Ursula, arrive at a luxurious seaside hotel. At the same time, a mysterious killer starts murdering promiscuous women in the area.
A woman searches for her missing lover, a psychiatrist who has suddenly vanished for no apparent reason. She ends up at a villa populated by a group of eccentric individuals. A string of murders commence immediately.
A crazed and sadistic sex maniac is on the loose, despite the esteemed criminal psychologist and police consultant Dr Herbert Lyutak's vain efforts to track him down. This extremely stressful situation is beginning to take its toll on the good doctor's marriage with the beautiful Marzia Lyutak, who is worried sick, seemingly unable to care for his needs. Is Herbert holding in terrible and corrosive emotions? Who can put an end to the unstoppable serial killer's horrific murder spree?Written by
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 American cut.
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.
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