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Only Death knows the secrets of Life!
6 May 2009
"As borboletas também amam" (borboleta means butterfly, but it can also mean prostitute in slang) translated into English would be something like: "Even whores can fall in love". A strange title!

The film begins with a pursuit scene that ends up with a man and a woman embracing each other delineated against a skyline of buildings and neon lights. Cut. The title "As borboletas também amam" is shown against a yellow backdrop and then, against a rose backdrop, we see the drawing of a butterfly and beside it, it's written: "Só a morte sabe as verdades da vida" (freely translated - Only death knows the secrets of life). And the quotation is signed: Goethe. A beautiful piano motif underlines it all.

The piano motif goes on. A beautiful woman is walking alone in the night looking at the shop windows. The men stare hungrily at her. A man accosts her and speaks with her. She leads him to a lounge bar. He asks her the traditional question. How did she end up like that?

She is Mônica (Angelina Muniz). She was a schoolgirl and lived with her parents in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. The life they led was simple, no luxuries were allowed - Copacabana, beautiful clothes, disco nights.... just expensive and far away dreams. Sometimes Mônica went to Copacabana just to window shop, walk along the beach... One day Mônica is strolling in Copacabana and she meets her friend Virginia (Rossana Ghessa) together with some friends. One of them is Flavio.

Virginia, unknown to the others, is a high class hooker and she will introduce Mônica into this life. New characters and plot points will appear in the story that will later veer into melodrama territory and will become also a naive (and almost childish) statement against hypocrisy!

Even if "As borboletas também amam" is labeled as a pornochanchada, it is by no means a comedy, it's much more an erotic drama. The film takes itself very seriously, as the Goethe(?) quotation and the classical piano score prove.

I think that the film in itself could not be said to be moralistic, it rather portrays a moralistic society. The film drew some inspiration from the Nelson Rodrigues's universe (Nelson Rodrigues's plays criticize the hypocrisy and lunacy in which the middle class lives). But the depth displayed by Nelson Rodrigues is gone here. The characters are flat and the story is schematic, and particularly near the end, it dives head on into absurdity. This is at least, the way you could see the film if you stopped to analyze it, but if you just give your brain a rest and flow with the film, the picture may be very different...

"As borboletas também amam" is romantic and emotionally sincere, it tries for sophistication, but it's very simple and naive - that is its charm. As for feminine beauty, take the lovely Angelina Muniz as Mônica, and the also beautiful Rossana Ghessa as Virginia (they are not shy in shedding off their clothes when necessary, but the nudity is not gratuitous given the nature of the story).

The action in the final part of the film is quite delirious and the ending virtually defies belief! "As borboletas também amam" was seen by more than one million people in Brazil.
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8/10
Riccardo Freda pays a visit to Dante
26 April 2009
The story takes place in the Italy of the late 13th century - it was extracted from a tale told in Dante's Inferno:

Count Ugolino has become a big power in Pisa. His enemies want to do away with him. In the woods that surround his castle, behind the bushes, there are men with their bows ready. He's being watched and every step he makes... whether he's inside or outside his castle, or visiting friends, they are waiting for the right moment to strike. And strike they do, but so far, chance and his skill in arms have protected him. And there's treachery too. The enemy could be nearer than he thinks. Unlike what happens in the Hollywood historical films, the story in "Il Conte Ugolino" has more depth and the characters are clearly delineated against their historical background.

"Il Conte Ugolino" was a film destined for the general public but no concessions were made to make the story "pleasant". It has a soap opera style, that is, the camera concentrates more on the characters, but the landscape (for example, the sun rays filtering through the trees, first as a warning, and later, as a picture of doom) also helps to shape the story. Beautifully shot in black and white, "Il Conte Ugolino" is an engrossing film.
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Play Motel (1979)
8/10
Stop by the Play Motel and have a lot of fun!
23 February 2009
"Play Motel" is a very sleazy giallo – a good thriller with generous doses of sex.

"Play Motel" is the name of a motel located in Rome. There's a complex web of deceit and blackmail linked to this motel. People belonging to the upper levels of society are attracted to the Play Motel and are photographed while they are engaged in their "games". Suddenly things get out of control and mainly "models", somehow linked to the blackmail scheme, begin to get murdered.

The investigations are led by Detective Inspector de Sanctis (Anthony Steffen), and he's aided by a couple, Roberto (Ray Lovelock) and Patrizia (Anna Maria Rizzoli).

The film is not just sleazy (featuring even some hardcore scenes), but funny and thrilling as well, featuring the always acid Italian humor. There are many pretty women and the sex scenes are very good (and funny too!). I also like the soundtrack (and in particular the film's theme song – "Play Motel").

Stop by the "Play Motel" and have a lot of fun!
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Ariella (1980)
8/10
Ariella!
2 February 2009
"Ariella" is a sophisticated offshoot of the pornochanchada. The pornochanchada was a kind of Brazilian erotic film, that in the beginning, was heavily influenced by the Italian erotic comedies of the 60s/70s. The pornochanchada began in the early 70s and lasted till the mid 80s. In the beginning, because of the heavy censorship exercised by the military dictatorship, the pornochanchada limited itself to films with many comic moments and lots of sexual innuendos, some nudity (but not much else) could be shown. Later on, in 1977, the military government launched the "Abertura" (the opening of the political system), that paved the way to a gradual transition to democracy. The "Abertura" led to a relaxation of the censorship and by the end of the 70s the Brazilian erotic films had a much wider field to explore and so they did.

"Ariella" was based in a book by Cassandra Rios - a writer that had suffered a great discrimination before and during the military dictatorship, mainly because she dealt with subjects that were considered shocking at the time (frank description of sex, lesbianism, violence, power, corruption...). Many times her books were confiscated by the police, and the intellectual establishment despised her.

In 1980 the times had changed – "Ariella" was the first film to be based on a Cassandra Rios book (A Paranóica).

"Ariella" is a film with a beautiful visual style and photography. The film follows Ariella (Nicole Puzzi), her life and thoughts. She lives with her family but feels herself to be among strangers. Her relation with father, mother and brothers is very strange. The way they treat her... there is something weird about it all. The brothers look at her, there are silences, something almost ominous.. And the brothers girlfriends frequent the house too.

Is it all her imagination? She wanders in the house, in the gardens, speaks with the others, tries to find some answers. Ariella is very young and beautiful, and she's blooming fast into full womanhood. The shy Ariella becomes gradually more aware of her beauty. And beauty is power. One day she'll discover a horrible secret and this will lead her to a new dangerous road.

I've tried to give you a taste of the story without revealing too much. There will be complex entanglements, and sex will play an important part in this game. But is it really a game? Nicole Puzzi is very beautiful and sexy – she displays the right amount of naiveté, malice and sensuality. Her sex scenes are very arousing. But we should not forget other beauties – Christiane Torloni and Lucia Veríssimo. I won't say more because there are many pleasant surprises in store.

In short, "Ariella" tells us a good story and it doesn't shy away from sexuality (and it couldn't, because this film deals mainly with sex and power). Of course, the story in the film isn't as richly told, as in the book. But it seems that Cassandra Rios was fairly satisfied with the film.

"Ariella" is a classy Brazilian erotic film. In Brazil it's only available in VHS. If you happen to find it, go for it.
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9/10
Shadows of the Past
19 January 2009
"Nelle pieghe della carne" (In the folds of the flesh) looks like a Mexican soap opera – the story is dramatic and twists are followed by more twists, and the puzzle becomes an enigma, till the conclusion, when everything is "explained". But somehow the answers look more senseless than the story itself. Can the film be called senseless? I don't think so because "In the folds of the flesh" is coherent when regarded inside its fantasy world. Fantasy is a reflection of reality, it portrays our subconscious fears and desires. Seen from this angle "In the folds of the flesh" has a coherent emotional reality, and I think that the best way to see the film is to turn off your brain and use your heart - the brain and logical thinking should function only as secondary tools on seeing "In the folds of the flesh".

Now to the film:

The film begins quoting Freud. If I remember well it was something like that – the scars we suffered in our early childhood will be the driving force that will lead us through life...

In a tower/mansion by the beach something terrible happens. A bloody severed head, a woman and children - statuelike - looking darkly, a train goes by very fast... a shrill whistle. A killer on the run. The police close on his heels. Hiding behind bushes he sees a woman burying somebody. A very dramatic score underlines the scenes. The killer is finally arrested and the policemen go away. The tower is left alone with its dark secrets. Years go by but memories don't die. Mother, Daughter and Son. The father disappeared years ago. Terrible memories haunt them.

Brother and sister like to indulge in sexual games. In the gardens by the sea, the birds, in their big cages, shriek. Murders happen. Decapitations, strangling. Flashbacks of rape, naked women being led to a Nazi gas chamber!. The tower, the unexpected visitors... the bodies must be disposed off....

By now you'll be thinking that the film is completely insane and you'll be right, but (as I said before) there's an emotional logic that links everything.

Like all good gialli, "In the folds of the flesh" has a beautiful visual style - fast and creative editing, bizarre zooms, weird camera angles ... but the orchestral soundtrack is unusual for a giallo - sometimes sad and melancholic and sometimes threatening and full of gloomy forebodings. It's a soundtrack more appropriate for a melodrama, for a soap opera, than for a giallo, but it has hit the nail on the head because "In the folds of the flesh" is in fact a melodrama, or rather, a melodramatic giallo. It has many layers and contradictions. It is superficial, but this superficiality has unknown depths. Freud, rape, incest, murder, Nazi gas chambers, love, betrayal, loneliness, everything mixed together in this crazy giallo. The world is seen through the subconscious (fear, illusions, desires...) in a film that looks like a fantasy soap opera.

"In the folds of the flesh" features an interesting cast that makes it a must for cinephiles: Eleanora Rossi Drago, one of the great ladies of the Italian cinema, was the main actress of such films as "Le Amiche" by Antonioni and "Estate Violenta" by Zurlini. Anna Maria Pierangeli, another amazing actress, best known for her Hollywood films. Fernando Sancho - the laughing Mexican bandit in many spaghetti westerns (!) and many others.... See them all together in a giallo, well, that's something!

Those that expect a sleaze fest will be disappointed. This film was made in 1970, in a time when the giallo was about to start off. "The seducers" that was made one year earlier, namely in 1969, had already broken many boundaries, but I guess that, in that time, it was not widely released. So, most of the sex in "In the folds of the flesh" is more implied than directly shown, but anyway the film is filled all over with a highly-charged sexuality – visual sexual innuendos, kisses, games... Innocence, lurking lust, violence.... The story has twists after twists, and then other twists and still more twists, and it looks like the labyrinth of Crete. The images that follow each other and that disclose more and more the horrifying truths (!) are so over-the-top as to be really funny. But there's seriousness and emotion in the storytelling.

In short, "In the folds of the flesh" could be labeled as a melodramatic giallo, but it is much more than that. The film has many, many layers, but it's not as complicated as it might seem by my description. Forget about logic and let the heart be your guide and you'll see that the film is quite simple. Don't try to understand the film (anyway there's no need to worry, everything is "explained" in the end), just feel it.
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7/10
Too many bastards!
18 January 2009
"Una donna per sette bastardi" (Sewer Rats) literally translated means "A woman for seven bastards". Even if it takes place in modern times, this film has somewhat the feel of a spaghetti western. A man with no name is driving through a dirt road when his car breaks down. He's a strong-built man, but a cripple (and that's how the others will call him). Nearby there is an old mining town composed by some wooden houses. When the Cripple (Richard Harrison) arrives there, he'll be received with hostility and distrust. There are six bastards in the town. There's Carl (Antonio Casale) that owns everything in the town. There's Gordon (Gordon Mitchell) that arrived there with a military uniform and is the partner of Carl. There's the Mute (Luciano Rossi). He plays harmonica all the time and besides being mute, he's also a hunchback and seems to be an imbecile as well. There's Smith (Ivano Staccioli) that escaped from a nuthouse. There's Dick (Luciano Bartoli), a runaway convict. There's the Old Man (Andrea Checchi). And finally there's Rita (Dagmar Lassander) who is married to Carl and is the only woman in town. Rita is constantly harassed, beaten and raped, but she seems to enjoy the whole thing. There's dissension and distrust among the crew and they are constantly fighting against each other (often because of Rita). As to the Cripple, he carries a secret with him. Nobody knows who he is or what he wants.

The film is not as sleazy as it may seem by my description. It suffered several cuts, but what remains is still fun enough. I've ordered "Sewer Rats" through the alternative market and the film is not in good shape (in the night scenes the images look very fuzzy), but in spite of all I think that the film is watchable.

If you like Dagmar Lassander, that's the film for you. She plays an incredibly slutty role and seems to be enjoying every moment of it. "Sewer Rats" may not be a great film but it should interest all those who like the 70s Italian films. The rough and the crude are enhanced by good hand-held cameras. The story is good and the film feels spontaneous.
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8/10
Three sleazy clowns in a sleazy train
12 January 2009
If you're going to see this film expecting a thriller you will be disappointed. "La ragazza del vagone letto" (Terror Express), in a literal translation means "The girl of the sleeping car", a title that should already hint what "Terror Express" really is, namely a sleazy comedy. It was somewhat inspired by "Night train murders" by Aldo Lado, a very violent and suspenseful thriller. But "Terror Express" is not a real thriller. Call it, if you want, a sexual thriller.

The story runs like this: Three sleazy thugs board a night train. They succeed in isolating the wagon in which they are from the rest of the train and submit the passengers traveling there to all sort of humiliations; especially the women, that suffer harassment, "rape" etc.. They have a weird sense of humor and play their practical jokes on everybody.

Some of the passengers are:

A couple in crisis, they are always arguing and the beautiful wife is fed up with her husband.

A family – a man, his wife and his daughter. The man secretly lusts for his daughter but never fails to give her moral, admonitory lessons.

A policeman and his handcuffed prisoner.

And the wagon's whore that is in cohorts with the train conductor!

There are still other passengers, but I think that that's enough to give you a taste for pleasures to come.

The three guys that took over the wagon could be defined more as comedians than thugs. Their "violence" consists in jokes, threats (sometimes switchblades are shown) and their real aim seems to be to give as much pleasure as possible to the women that "fall into their clutches", but they can also be nasty clowns.

"Terror Express" is very sleazy and funny - a real sleaze merry-go-round. Now if you take the film at face value you won't like it. Take it as a sexy joke and that's your ticket. Silvia Dionisio, Zora Kerova and Fiammetta Flamini rock! Welcome aboard the sleaze train!
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9/10
Killing in Venice
10 January 2009
The world that "Giallo a Venezia" depicts is grim, nasty, brutal and realistic, but contradictorily it feels refreshing when you compare it to similar Hollywood films that try really hard to look nasty but never quite succeed. Even when they are able to rid themselves of their puritan stench, that typical American cleanliness (ready to be consumed by the general audience) remains.

The Venice shown in "Giallo a Venezia" is not the one we know from postcards, and the same applies to the characters. That is not to say that the characters are particularly nasty and/or monstrous. They are to find everywhere, in every big city. And if you sometimes read the crime page of a newspaper you can easily find stories that resemble the one told by the film.

Now to "Giallo a Venezia": A couple is found dead in mysterious circumstances – there are some puzzling details concerning their murder. The detective inspector in charge of the case (Inspector DePaul – Jeff Blynn) is trying hard to understand the motives and, most of all, the strange modus operandi of the killer. The only lead he has is a photo displaying the couple together with some friends.

Inspector DePaul succeeds in finding one of the people present in the photo. She is Marzia (Mariangela Giordano), a writer, who will help him to have a more precise picture of the couple. They were Fabio (Gianni Dei) and Flavia (Leonora Fani). They were married for some years. For getting more excitement and more sexual pleasure, Fabio induces Flavia (against her will), to get into kinky sexual practices. But Fabio will need to go further and further....

Marzia herself is receiving threatening calls from a jilted lover. And Marzia knows still more people. Inspector DePaul has his hands full with things to do. He has to locate the other people present in the photo. And there will be other murders. Nasty and brutal murders.

"Giallo a Venezia" is not for people with a weak stomach (or for those faint of heart). The film is, as I said before, realistic, the story is well told and the characters feel real. Those who only like colorful gialli with posh locations and lots of pretty girls should approach this film with care. But if you like Mariangela Giordano and Leonora Fani...

"Giallo a Venezia" has naturally lots of (good) sex scenes (but not hardcore porn). It's a very unusual giallo. If you want something different, disturbing and exciting, see it. I've ordered this film through the ebay. Alternative market. I was sent a DVD-R containing the film in good condition, in the original Italian language (lucky me!) and apparently uncut.
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Malabimba (1979)
8/10
Bimba and the Devil
2 January 2009
Malabimba is not just a sleazy film. The film has more depth than people give it credit for. It is one of the more notorious "Exorcist" rip-offs (and the best of them in my opinion). This is of course a matter of taste. I've seen some of them:

"The Antichrist" (cinematographically speaking is the more traditional of the lot and therefore the easiest to please the majority, but being an Italian film (even if tame for Italian standards) it crosses boundaries that Hollywood would never dare to trespass (the goat scene). It's a film that in spite of being exploitative follows the "Exorcist" recipe more closely and with more seriousness.

"L'Ossessa" (The eerie midnight horror show) – See my comment in IMDb.

"Un urlo nelle tenebre" released in English under many different titles ("Cries and Shadows", "Naked Exorcism" "The Possessor" etc..). The film is a hopeless mess. It's very uneven. Sometimes it's visually stylish and atmospheric (good use of scenery – small village on the top of the hill, narrow and gloomy streets, the house and its interiors etc..), but the film seems like a collage of different scenes, losing some steam in consequence. It was directed by two directors: Angelo Pannaccio and Franco Lo Cascio.

Back to Malabimba. A lonely mansion/castle on the top of a hill. There live the Karolis. The Karoli family was once wealthy and aristocratic, but now they are almost bankrupt. Tragedy, resentments, intrigues, decadence... In this place, Bimba (Katell Laennec - mala means bad), a shy teenage girl, lives a secluded life. One day a harsh wind blows into the house. It's the devil – a hoarse whispering wind. It attacks everybody in the household, but it takes possession of the innocent Bimba. Bimba's sexuality till then dormant explodes. Sexual hunger, anger, frustration, she wants satisfaction at any price... but the grown-ups (with the exception of her preceptor, the nun, Sister Sofia – Mariangela Giordano) are too busy with their own problems to realize what's really happening with Bimba. She's passing through hell and the devil in her will convulse the whole house.

"Malabimba" is audiovisually an engaging film – the hand-held camera explores corridors, enters rooms, follows the characters, as well as the hoarse wind (the devil) that prowls around. The gardens are seen from the upstairs windows, and the distant mountains..... There are many sex scenes (already widely commented by other reviewers). Some hardcore porn inserts are present, but not many, and they don't spoil the overall effect. The images are punctuated by a good and effective soundtrack (some of it borrowed from "La morte ha sorriso all'assassino" by Joe D'Amato, but who cares?).

Immerse yourself into the film, and you'll have an enjoyable sexy audiovisual trip.
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Eyeball (1975)
8/10
Enter the giallo funhouse!
31 December 2008
A group of American tourists is visiting Spain. A red-cloaked killer is with them (or following them). The killings are nasty and the victims always have one of their eye balls removed. Right in the beginning of the film there's a very sudden and brutal murder. The fateful knife flashes out, the unlucky victim screams and screams again and the knife goes down and down. From this moment on I was hooked to the film.

Slasher film fans should like "Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro" (Eyeball). The action never lets down and the film is incredibly light and humorous. There are of course pretty girls and the mandatory lesbian couple (with rights to jealousy, fight and reconciliation scenes). The viewer is given a lot of red herrings and this enhances the fun still more. The Spanish locations are delightful (Barcelona and Sitges) and Umberto Lenzi displays his usual cinematic ability with swift and precise camera movements and editing. There are good killing scenes, particularly one in a funhouse.

I guess you won't be able to find out who the killer is. Anyway the story does make sense but is of secondary importance for those who want to enjoy the film.

"Gatti Rossi in un labirinto di vetro" (Eyeball) could be defined as a summer movie for grown-ups. It has it all – it's violent, sexy, funny, colourful and it has a cool soundtrack. So just let your critical brain at the door and enter this giallo funhouse. You may enjoy the ride.
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9/10
Nobody will speak of us when we're dead
29 December 2008
Gloria (Victoria Abril) witnesses a brutal killing in Mexico. She had come from Spain 2 years ago. She was married to a torero and they lived a good life. Her mother-in-law lived with them. A fatal accident in the arena leaves him paralyzed in bed. Hard times hit them. Gloria begins to drink and her life goes out of control. She thinks she has nothing left to lose and decides to try her luck in Mexico. In Mexico things get still worse. Gloria becomes a whore and after witnessing this killing (related to drugs, money laundry etc..) and barely escaping with her life, she's deported back to Spain. In Spain she goes to live with her mother-in-law, Julia (Pilar Bardem) and her completely disabled husband. Life goes on as dark as ever. Finding a job is difficult. But in spite of all there's a strong emotional link between Gloria and Julia (her mother-in-law). But to add to Gloria's problems, two killers are sent from Mexico to silence her and get back some documents they think she has in her possession.

I will not delve further into the story that has many other facets because I don't want to spoil the film for you. The film shows us the darker side of sunny Spain. "Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto" (Nobody will speak of us when we're dead) has something of a film noir, but it transcends the conventions of the genre. To give you an idea of what the film looks like I would say that it's a film noir with a strong neorealistic feel to it.

The performances overall are very good (especially Victoria Abril), but it would be very unfair not to mention Pilar Bardem's shining performance, and Federico Luppi's as well.

"Nadie hablará de nosotras cuando hayamos muerto" is gritty, powerful and emotional. The Spanish cinema is in my opinion one of the best in the world. If you like Victoria Abril I recommend also (among many): "Amantes", "Entre las piernas", "Sin noticias de Dios" etc..
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9/10
Japanese neorealism - the fight against fascism in Japan
22 December 2008
I went to my local DVD rental store and found this early Kurosawa made just after the end of the World War 2. Curiously this film, "No regrets for my youth" was dubbed in Italian. This was kind of annoying as I like to see the films in their original language, but anyway as I've already seen so many films dubbed in English, why not Italian? Well, maybe it was the Italian dubbing, but I couldn't fail to see the similarity between "No regrets for my youth" and the neorealist films made in Italy just after the war. Coincidence? Anyway, Kurosawa was mainly influenced by the Soviet cinema.

"No regrets for my youth" tells the story of the fight of some students against the militarist regime in Japan and their different destinies throughout the years, but the film focuses mainly on Yukie, that we see in the beginning, just as a spoilt girl, flirting with revolutionary games. She's very sensitive and soon notices how alienated from reality she is. The military government is slowly tightening its iron grip and silencing the opposition. Idealism has become dangerous in Japan.

Yukie now sees what's happening. She's very passionate in whatever she does. Yukie makes no compromises, but she's no fool either. The film will describe her journey - first, the fires of adolescence when the world seems to be out there just to fulfill her wishes, then self-awareness, fight, disillusion, suffering.... She and her friends will arrive to different conclusions and tread different roads.

In a way, "No regrets for my youth" is a coming of age film, in which politics, emotion and sex play an important role. Yukie wants to find her place in the world. She's not satisfied with her life and she's not satisfied with the world in which she's living. She wants to change them. "No regrets for my youth" shows how she tries to live up to her ideals.

In "No regrets for my youth" (as I said before) we feel the influence the Soviet (and Italian) masters had on Kurosawa. We see here a young Kurosawa - more spontaneous and enthusiastic (another Kurosawa film, more or less, along the same line is "Stray Dog" that takes place in post-war Japan). The camera is used effectively to show the landscape and people. The acting is more natural. We are spared the exaggerated gestures and movements that are seen in some of his later films. Setsuko Hara who plays Yukie is an extraordinary actress. She helps the film to achieve a truly great emotional depth. Highly recommended!
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7/10
Danila and the Devil
6 December 2008
"L'Ossessa" (released in English under many titles and the eeriest of them certainly is "The eerie midnight horror show") is one of the best Italian rip-offs of "The Exorcist". To really appreciate this film you should have a sense of humor. "L'Ossessa" is at the same time sleazy (but naive), pathetic and sometimes even moving.

Danila (Stella Carnacina), an art student, goes to an old church to see the statue she's going to restore. It's a wooden statue of Christ, a demonic Christ, maybe already overcome by evil, or fighting against it, or perhaps planning dark deeds. The face shows infinite torment. The statue dates from the 15th century. Danila is impressed by the mastery shown by the sculptor - the statue seems almost alive! She lives with her parents. Her mother Luisa (Lucretia Love) lives a dissolute life and doesn't care too much for keeping up appearances. Her father Mario (Chris Avram) observes everything with disenchanted eyes.

The wooden statue will soon assume a human form (Ivan Rassimov) and possess Danila in the carnal and spiritual sense. An amazing scene! The poor Danila, from now on, will suffer the torments of hell.

Danila (the lovely Stella Carnacina) was ravished, violated, possessed by the devil and now following his orders, she will try to seduce others. Ain't she emulating her sleazy mother Luisa (Lucretia Love) who feels great pleasure when her lover whips her with a bunch of roses? There is a scene so ridiculous as to be sublime and moving, when Stella Carnacina runs in despair through the narrow streets (possessed by the devil, remember?) of a small Italian town screaming her heart out. Luigi Pistilli is a very good exorcist. His performance is, as usual, intense. The exorcism scenes (particularlly the final battle) are very, very amateurish, but this will only enhance the fun (and/or emotion?) if you've really got a sense of humor.

Stella Carnacina is beautiful and looks fresh and innocent, and that's a factor that adds to your pleasure when she's naked, but I think that the film could have explored more her natural beauty. Lucretia Love is a very good sleaze companion (her nude scene with the roses... well.:)

Other Italian exorcist rip-offs I would like to recommend for you are:

Malabimba (very sleazy and released uncut and digitally restored)

"Evil Eye" (Malocchio) - "The Exorcist" was the main source of inspiration for "Evil Eye", but others films, like, for instance, "Rosemary's Baby" should also be taken into account. "Evil Eye" is completely over the top. Not that sleazy but with plenty of gorgeous Italian and Spanish actresses. You'll be drooling all over the film. The film is ridiculous, the story doesn't make any sense, but if you see it in the right mood you might feel moved! - a diabolical sect, possession, murders, despair, love, investigation and beautiful women all around. A wild ride!

If you liked "Evil Eye", see also "Ring of Darkness" (Un'Ombra nell'ombra). This film can be found in the alternative market. Search this title in the IMDb. There are good reviews about it.

P.S. - "L'Ossessa" has many different faces. It's exploitative, but it can also be serious and moving. It's cheap, cheesy... sleazy (but not that much) and it has an underlying "moral" message. This strange brew can sometimes be very funny. We all already know that "L'Ossessa" is an "Exorcist" rip-off so why can't we see it on its own terms? Yes, Mario Gariazzo was trying to earn a fast buck, but he was able get the most out of a shoestring budget. The story is well told, the film is atmospheric and overall the actors are committed to their roles. See the film with an open mind and you may discover two or three new things.
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9/10
The castle of dark mirrors
20 October 2008
A Woman running naked in the night (slow motion). Haunting soundtrack.

A car. Dark night. Suddenly, a white indistinct silhouette in the middle of the road. Dr. Benson swerves just in time and stops the car. When he looks back the road is empty - no one in sight! While he's thinking about it, crash!!..... He looks back and there's another car in the road. A woman is in it, unconscious. She's Susan (Rita Calderoni). The scene is enhanced by a brooding soundtrack.

Dr. Benson looks for help in a nearby castle. In this castle, he and Susan will meet their darker selves, and will have to fight a battle with them for their.... souls, egos, whatever....

This is the castle of mirrors, where the statues spin and the corridors have many doors. Each door hides a secret. It may be a dream, a hallucination, a nightmare. Day and night seem to mix together and coexist at the same time. Whippings, lesbian succubus that like to pay surprise visits, a giant spider, a strange laughing butler roaming around....

Dr. Benson meets Susan's darker half, Evelyn (Rita Calderoni). Susan meets Dr. Benson's darker half, Peter. Their darker selves are planning to take over. Satan (in civilian clothes) presides over everything.

"Nuda per Satana" is a very sensual film. Rita Calderoni could have been a princess or a duchess in the Italian Renaissance. When she is dressed/undressed, kisses, smiles, screams, whatever she does, it looks like one of those paintings of the great Italian masters come alive. Sex, the devil, the unconscious, the dreams, desire, joy and fear.

I think that "Nuda per Satana" was obviously inspired by Renato Polselli's "The reincarnation of Isabel", but it has nonetheless its own personality. Probably, a more distant source of inspiration was "Castle of Blood" made by Antonio Margheriti in 1964.

In "Nuda per Satana" the visuals, the soundtrack, the dialogues... produce a dreamy, surreal ambiance. Instead of trying to follow the story, turn off your critical vibes, dive into the film and you may have something akin to an acid trip.
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8/10
The Nights of Cleopatra
9 October 2008
I've seen "Le Legioni di Cleopatra" in a restored print in the original Italian language.

If you want a history lesson you should not see this film (and the same applies to Hollywood movies), but the main historical facts are superficially presented (the details concerning the characters are, of course, fantasy) in it.

Mark Antony (Georges Marchal) is in Alexandria (Egypt) with his lover Cleopatra (Linda Cristal), the queen of Egypt. They rule the eastern part of the Roman Empire. Octavian (Alfredo Mayo) rules the western part of the Roman Empire. He lands with his troops in Egypt. Octavian's forces are superior, but Mark Antony with the help of his allies may still be a force to reckon with. The battle that will decide who will rule the Roman Empire looms ahead.

And Cleopatra! Her beauty is legendary. She conquered Marc Antony's heart and lives in a palace. Her legions keep watch over it. No one is admitted entrance without her permission. No one in the outside world is allowed to see her face. But at nights Cleopatra goes out in the streets, disguised in simple clothes, to dance in taverns! She just wants to leave the seclusion of her palace, meet people, and maybe, love.

Meanwhile, Octavian sends one of his officers (Ettore Manni), the handsome Curridio (a friend of Mark Antony) to Alexandria to see how things stand and talk Mark Antony into surrendering.

"Le Legioni di Cleopatra" may be (as many Italian epic films) a low budget production, but it's highly entertaining - tavern brawls, dances, battles, pretty girls.... The story is well told, with good comic, dramatic and romantic moments.

All in all, the film is very colorful - it's not only easy on the eyes and mind, but sometimes it's surprisingly serious and moving (that is, if you turn off your critical brain and let yourself flow with the film).

The European Community asked of 15 filmmakers of 15 countries that each one should choose a film of his/her country to be restored. Gianni Amelio, representing Italy, chose "Le Legioni di Cleopatra".
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7/10
Come and Die!
7 October 2008
Valerie and her boyfriend Terry witness a murder in an old abandoned house. They had heard the sound of a car arriving and they hid themselves. A couple had come in. They could only see the girl because He remained always in the shadow. She undressed herself and sat on his lap. Suddenly a switchblade flashes out. She's stabbed to death.

Valerie in her panic rushes blindly out of the house. Outside she waits for Terry. He doesn't come. Then she hears footsteps. Again she runs and runs.... Somehow she manages to get home in the morning.

In London Valerie goes back to her routine. She tries to contact Terry, be he's disappeared from sight. And worst of all, when Valerie looks out of her window she sees Terry's car parked in front of her house. The killer knows who she is and where she lives! When Valerie speaks with her friends about it, they advise her to not contact the police. After all Terry is a shady dealer, and she could get involved in a very nasty business. But what happened to Terry? Is he still alive?

The killer is stalking her, and he will strike again...

By the description, you could think that "Scream and Die" is a very suspenseful thriller. But you would be wrong.

"Scream and Die" (the title is misleading) should be seen by those that like a weird atmosphere: the thick fog that envelops the house when Terry and Valerie arrive there, Valerie's friends and neighbors, the early 70s mood, the subtle and effective soundtrack, and the bizarre! Most viewers will guess from the beginning who the killer is. But that's not really important. I enjoy "Scream and Die" because it's atmospheric and feels natural (characters and environment), but it is at the same time dreamy, and sometimes surreal. The beautiful and delicate Andrea Allan is Valerie. She is a joy to behold!

If you like the films of Larraz this is another one to add to your collection
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8/10
Hear the distant sounds of thunder....
30 September 2008
The DVD I've ordered features the film (Il Pistolero dell'Ave Maria) in its original Italian language. Some aspects of the story may have been changed in the English language version.

I will tell you just the very beginning of the story. I only want to give you a taste of the film. There will be no real spoilers (I think).

A lone rider going through a canyon. Up on the cliffs horsemen watching him. Close-ups of their faces, hands ready for action. The scene is enhanced by a hauntingly beautiful score.

The rider is Rafael (Pietro Martellanza). As a boy he had worked in a hacienda in Mexico. The owner of the hacienda was absent fighting against the french. For those that have no knowledge of the history of Mexico, very simplistically told, the french had invaded Mexico in 1861 and installed Maximilian of Habsburg in power. He became the emperor of Mexico! The french rule lasted until 1867, when the Mexicans led by Benito Juarez, expelled the french and shot the Emperor. Crazy, ain't it?

Coming back to the film, Rafael worked in this hacienda that belonged to the Carrasco Family. The patriarch and owner of the hacienda, General Juan Carrasco, was absent fighting against the french. Rafael was the best friend of his (the general's) son Sebastian (Leonard Mann), and loved and was loved by Sebastian's sister, Isabella (Pilar Velazquez). Children, the three of them. But while General Carrasco was away fighting the french, his wife Ana (Luciana Paluzzi) was having an affair with the hacienda's foreman, Tomas (Alberto de Mendoza). After the french had been defeated, General Carrasco returns home and is received in high style by everyone in the hacienda. A party is held to commemorate his return. Suddenly... betrayal and tragedy.

The characters are scattered to the four winds. Years pass and the dust seems to have settled down, but a chance meeting will rekindle old memories. The day of reckoning has arrived.

This story almost seems a Mexican melodrama, but it's filmed with a grandeur and style that's unique. The party that is held in homage to General Carrasco, when he returns from the war, with its dancing, singing and eating, is flamboyantly portrayed. The same holds true for the scene in which a character enters a small Mexican village where a celebration is taking place in the streets ... firecrackers, people laughing, singing ... Then the saloon, with wild and beautiful women dancing barefoot on the counter... Ferdinando Baldi is very skilled in telling a story by way of images - editing, framing, close-ups, music ... everything adds up to create the right atmosphere and the proper emotion. It's true that sometimes he goes overboard, as he proved with the completely over-the-top film's ending, that's so operatic, so melodramatic, as to put even the wildest Mexican melodramas to shame.

A good, well-told story featuring beautiful women (Luciana Paluzzi, Pilar Velazques and many others), sunny, dry landscapes, and a wonderful soundtrack. I didn't like so much the ending, though, with its fire and brimstones conclusion, but this is a matter of taste. Highly recommended if you like your spaghetti hot and wild.
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Chaotic Ana (2007)
chaotic heart..... chaotic mind.......
23 September 2008
Many people said that "Caotica Ana" had sunk in its own chaos. Well, I don't demand from films a straightforward narrative, I think that the stream of consciousness, the poetic, the surrealistic can be much more powerful, emotional, than a story told in conventional fashion. I've liked a lot "Lucia y el sexo" - It was so beautiful that it took my breath away, and when I tried to write about it in IMDb I just couldn't.

Now, "Caotica Ana" .... as a whole it's a mess. In his homage to his sister Ana, Julio Medem invokes the sea, the sun, reincarnation, the tragedy of Western Sahara etc... Many different ingredients were put into this soup, but in what concerns the taste... Some scenes are beautiful and moving, but other scenes feel like nothing. The film is like a mind game (from reason, through reason, to Emotion) - many situations and elements seem to have been arbitrarily inserted.

I don't care so much for logic and I was expecting with "Caotica Ana" an audio-visual-emotional trip (the beautiful Ana in different times and places, the sea, the sky. What could possibly go wrong?), but I was disappointed in this regard. Anyway "Caotica Ana" is a very personal film. It's different from anything you may find in your local DVD rental store. Give it a try if you want.
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5/10
All the boys love Mandy Lane. But why?
20 September 2008
Before renting "All the boys love Mandy Lane", I saw its trailer in the YouTube to check it out. Good cameras, interesting story and there were some good reviews in IMDb. Well, maybe I was in for a surprise. You never know. So I took the risk and rented the film. But in the first moments of the film, I noticed that this one was not different at all - it was just another brick in the wall.

To begin with, apart from the differences of sex and looks there's nothing to really differentiate the characters in this film. Other films are able to provide simple characters (even if one-dimensional ones) with whom we can identify with. This film gives us a very superficial glimpse of the characters, their relationships, conflicts.. What we see in "All the boys love Mandy Lane" is just a bunch of stereotyped American teenagers like we've seen so many times before.

And how is Mandy Lane? Mandy Lane, as portrayed by Amber Heard, is just your typical high school girl. There are many girls like her - in any high school there are dozens of Mandy Lanes. Amber Heard has nothing really distinctive about her. She's pretty, that's all. Then, why do all the boys love Mandy Lane? This is a film, that's why.

That said, let's go to the film. As you well know, all the guys are mad about Mandy Lane. The boys (with the help of the girls) prepare a party. Mandy Lane is invited to this party. The party is to take place in an isolated ranch. No one had succeeded till now in scoring Mandy. The objective of this party is to ease things out. A girl in the group wants to make it with a guy, there are rivalries, frustrations, and last but not least, there's someone that loves Mandy so much that he/she is ready to kill for her. But make no mistake, anyone will guess from the beginning who the killer is, but prepare yourself for a wild twist that will put everything upside down.

If the script had managed to give us flesh and body characters and describe in more detail the relationship among the characters (their emotions, their conflicts...), this film could have been a memorable slasher teen flick. Had the film been done in the right way, there would be in it a growing sense of fear, of encirclement. Conflicts, fights, suspicion, and death advancing on and on.. outside just the empty fields... but the film is unable to build up the suspense.

"All the boys love Mandy Lane" is just a passable entertainment and nothing more. If you want to see a film with more substance try "High Tension" (Haute Tension), a very good french slasher flick.
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Dance, Darling, dance! And now it's time to run! Scream and Die!
15 September 2008
"Les weekends malefiques du comte Zaroff" (Seven women for Satan) was billed as as sexy and trashy remake of "The most dangerous game". As the film was banned in France (as far I as I know, a liberal country when it comes to cinema), my curiosity was raised still more. But I was disappointed, the film didn't meet my expectations.

Why was this film banned in France? Mystery! I would have understood if it had been banned from the UK. The British censorship is very strict and known throughout the world for its medieval standards.

"The most dangerous game" was a distant source of inspiration for "Seven women for Satan" (the English title is very misleading, but I will use it for briefness' sake. Where is Satan? 7 women?), but I think that Lemoine suffered a greater influence from Rollin and Benazeraf, and we should not forget to mention "Beyond Erotica" (No es nada mama, solo un juego).

The story runs like this: The count Zaroff (Michel Lemoine) during the week days is apparently a normal man, sometimes a little distracted from his work, because he's constantly dreaming about chasing and torturing women. Women for him are beautiful dolls, he feels like biting them, crushing their bones... he likes them so much!

When the week-end comes he goes to his castle. In the castle his butler Karl (Howard Vernon) and a big black dog called Ingmar wait for him. Karl wants to assist Count Zaroff in his evil ways like his ancestors did to Count Zaroff's ancestors. There's also a Fata Morgana apparition (Joelle Coeur) haunting Count Zaroff. She was one of his ancestors' victims. She's a beautiful long haired woman in a white gown that appears and disappears in the most unexpected places. Count Zaroff seems to be obsessed by her. And we should not forget the friendly black dog Ingmar that gets its share of beautiful women as well. One can't complain about cruelty to animals!

If you've read me till now, you may think that the film tells a story. But no, this film is almost plot less - it looks like a collage, a bric-a-brac of Lemoine's varied cinematic influences and sexual dreams. The violence, for the most part, is not shown explicitly. In this department, the film is rather tame when compared to others of the genre.

If you see the film in the right mood, it can be an amusing experience: The castle, count Zaroff and his sinister butler Karl, without forgetting, of course, the trendy big black dog, Ingmar. "Ingmar, elle est a toi!" Growl.... Aaaaaaaahhhhh!!..... Naked girls being chased, semi-naked girls dancing to tribal drums or pop music, ghostly girls materializing out of nothing, the "philosophical" pearls delivered mainly by Count Zaroff and his faithful butler Karl...

The film is difficult to judge, some scenes, particularly the dreamy sensual ones are very stylish, but the story seems to wander aimlessly and the pace sometimes is very slow. If you see this film with a receptive mind (and in a slightly altered state), you might enjoy it better.
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7/10
The adventures of Elisa, Marian and Susi in Sexland
11 September 2008
"Las que empiezan a los quince años" tells the story of the sexual adventures of three fifteen'year old girls: Elisa, Marian and Susi.

Elisa lives with her father and her stepmother. Her father, drown in debts by reason of bad business decisions, has to run away from his debtors. Elisa remains with her stepmother that has no love left for her. Soon Elisa is out in the streets. One of the roads left for her is prostitution. Her life will be one of many adventures and misadventures.

Marian, very early in her life, became a prostitute. She had known a good-looking guy in a party. She falls in love with him, but in reality he's a pimp. One day they have a fight and Marian decides to become independent. She opens the doors of the cars and ask the drivers if they want some company. On seeing this beautiful lolita, many say that, yes, they could do with a bit of company.

Susi's family has no financial problems. Her father works a lot and is always absent, but her mother likes and understands her. Susi likes girls. She sometimes plays innocent little games with Elisa and Marian.

There's no doubt that "Las que empiezan a los quince años" is an exploitation film. Many exploitation films try to hide their nature by assuming the form of a cautionary tale. In this way, the morality watchdogs are partially appeased. This doesn't happen here. "Las que empiezan a los quince años" gives no excuses.

The film offers a rosy vision of prostitution, but anyway it had no intention at all of being a documentary. The film wants to titillate, and it delivers. The girls frequently take off their clothes, make love, laugh, giggle etc.. but there are not graphic sex scenes.

"Las que empiezan a los quince años" definitely tells a story, albeit a simple one, and Elisa, Marian and Susi are characters that have a face (unlike what happens in many other films of the genre where the characters are anonymous x, y, and z). The film could be defined as a sexy youth film, with touches of comedy, some dramatic moments and, most important of all, no wagging fingers pointed at us. It's a very joyous film. Franco had died. Sex was not a swear word anymore.

Recommended for you if you're not a puritan.

Contrary to the information given by IMDb the film clocks in at around 110 minutes.
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8/10
Fear in the countryside
8 September 2008
"La corrupción de Chris Miller" is a difficult film to write about. It tells a story that has many layers. There's the straight story the film tells and there are many undercurrents that are left for the viewer to discern.

Ruth (Jean Seberg) lives with her stepdaughter Chris (Marisol) in an isolated mansion in the countryside. Both of them wait for the same man. He was Ruth's husband and the father of Chris. One day, without warning, he left everything. They don't know where he's at. But Ruth and Chris have different feelings about him. Ruth wants to get even with him for what he has done to her, and for doing this she can use Chris, his daughter. Maybe she can corrupt her. But corruption is a vague word, what does it really mean? And Chris waits for her father as if he were the last hope left for her. A traumatic experience she had, has left its mark on her. Maybe her father is the only good thing left in the world...

But it's difficult to classify the relationship between the two women. It's not a traditional love-hate relationship. The same man links them, but there's much more than that.

Meanwhile a serial killer roams about the countryside. Mysterious murders are happening in the area.

One day a drifter, come from nowhere, arrives in the house. As it happens, he (Barney) is engaged to work in the house for doing the odd jobs. His presence will change everything. Slowly a strange kind of threesome is developed - an atmosphere of suspicion, perplexity ... begins to grow. Who is he? What does he want from them? What do they want from him? Ruth and Chris and Barney? Outside, the murders go on happening.

I won't say more because I don't want to spoil the film for you. "La corrupción de Chris Miller" is a refined psychological thriller. Jean Seberg is very good as Ruth, and Marisol's interpretation of Chris is powerful and emotional.

If you like this one, check out also "El ojo del huracán" (In the eye of the hurricane) - it's seemingly a lighter type of thriller, but don't let yourself get fooled, because under the sun there is light and there are also shadows.
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Che? (1972)
The dream girl in the House of Dreams
26 August 2008
The early 70s were the stage for many experiments. Barriers were being broken and the boundaries were expanded. In the cinema, taboos were challenged and defeated. It was a time for change, a time for improvisation. It was in the spirit of those times that Polanski made "What?" "What?" could be defined as a surrealistic modern "Alice in Erotic Land".

An innocent young and beautiful American woman, Nancy (Sydne Rome) - She is hitchhiking in Italy. The three men that gave her a lift try to rape her, but they are in such a hurry and are so clumsy, that one of them, having lost his glasses, begins to sodomize the other. A verbal fight ensues among them and in the confusion, Nancy runs away. One of them runs after her. In her flight she sees a funicular waiting there for her as on purpose. The funicular takes her to a white villa.

This villa is peopled by very bizarre characters. Nancy, running away from the cruelty of the world, has landed in the house of dreams. Is this her dream, is she a dream dreamed by other people, or both? This luxurious white villa located by the beautiful tyrrhenian sea seems very remote from everyday life. Among the characters there is a former pimp, Alex (Marcello Mastroianni), two french lesbians, a priest that watches everything with disapproving eyes, the paraplegic patriarch of the house with his serious-looking Nietzsche-reading German nurse, and even Polanski is present, as Mosquito, that has no love left for Alex, the pimp, with whom he's always arguing.

Nancy, interpreted by the gorgeously beautiful Sydne Rome, will be the object of desire of every male (excepting maybe the priest) inhabiting the villa. Even the growling dog falls under her charm, and the same happened to me.

Sydne Rome, in an interview in the DVD (released in Italy), defined "What?" as an erotic dream. This is exactly what I think.

Alex, the pimp (Marcello Mastroianni), will persuade her to engage in kinky sexual games. But don't you expect the sleaze displayed by other Italian films of the time - by these standards "What?" can be considered tamer than its Italian brothers. Still in some scenes Sydne Rome is shown in the nude, and in many others she's wandering around the house semi-naked. In the strange sexual games that happen between her and Alex, Sydne Rome has her clothes on. But believe me, these scenes are very sensual. The beautiful Sydne Rome, with her angel face and her large innocent eyes, and Marcello Mastroianni, wearing either a leopard skin or a Napoleon costume... well, it's something to be seen and enjoyed!

As Polanki has worked with a tight script and hasn't given much way to improvisation, "What?" seems sometimes more a theater play than a film. The characters are like dream figures and the conversations are surrealistic/symbolic. "What?" is a surrealistic comedy which is based mainly on the actions and words of the characters, as it happens in any good theater play. But don't get me wrong, "What?" is a film and feels like a film. It's just that the words in "What?" seem to weigh more than necessary and stifle somewhat the spontaneity of the acting. Apparently the actors in the film were not given the freedom to improvise and this spoils the fluency and the dreamy atmosphere of the film.

Take another Italian film made at the time - "L'Occhio nel labirinto" (Blood) by Mario Caiano. The script was probably hastily written. The characters are somewhat poorly developed, the film is a giallo that has psychoanalytical motives - a labyrinth, a killing, loss of memory, a white villa by the sea (yes!). It has flashbacks, fast hand-held cameras following the characters and unveiling the landscape. The story may seem to some a patch-up work - sex, crimes, psychoanalysis, the beach and the sun mixed together - but the film is entertaining and intriguing, even if it was made to earn a fast buck. The same cannot be said for "What?".

Polanski with "What?" wanted to make a sunny, dreamy and sexy film, and, in a way, he almost got there, but if he had let himself really go and had given the actors more freedom .... "What?" could have been something! As it is, "What?" is a half-successful psychedelic film, intellectual and slightly theatrical.

In spite of all, I think that "What?" is an interesting film - theatrically dreamy and psychedelic, and very, very sexy.
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Deadly Manor (2018)
7/10
Larraz in Disneyland!
17 August 2008
"Deadly Manor" is a strange slasher flick directed by Larraz. Other Larraz films I've seen took place either in England or in Spain ("Deviation", "Vampyres" "The coming of sin" and "Black candles") and featured sophisticated and ambiguous characters, but "Deadly Manor" was filmed in the USA and its characters are a bunch of stereotyped American teenagers.

The story runs like this: A group of teenagers are heading for a place situated by a lake with a strange name, but they don't know its exact location. On their way they pick up a hitcher that seems to know the area. But the lake they are going to is still hours away and they take refuge in a seemingly abandoned old mansion.

This mansion has something sinister - by dusk it looms there menacingly. They decide to remain there for the night. And then....

I think that "Deadly Manor" was made with an eye for the American market, but it still has that distinctive Larraz touch - It has that zen feel that pervades all his films. The sex has been toned down and there's not much gore to speak of, and the film may feel kind of slow for the usual slasher film fans, but the strange atmosphere, the beautiful and minimalistic soundtrack, may turn some of them on.

Those that like Larraz films should give this one a try. Even if the characters may seem shallow when compared to those of his other films, "Deadly Manor" is still interesting if you like films for their atmosphere.
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Deviation (1971)
9/10
that house lost in the woods
3 August 2008
A black-clad woman with raven black hair running through a forest, a man frantically nailing planks across the door. The wind is howling, the woman is running among the trees, and the young man, hammer in his hands, nailing the door shut. These two scenes alternate several times. Why is she running that way? Why is he so keen on closing that room?

Next we see them in London. The man is Julian (Karl Lanchbury), a taxidermist, and the woman is Rebecca (Lisbeth Lundquist), his sister.

He enters a shop and is given a new task by the shop's owner: to stuff a recently deceased dog. He speaks briefly with the shop's owner about the work to be done. Rebecca is waiting outside in the car. On the surface everything looks normal - Julian's youthful looks and civil demeanor are belied by something weird lying behind his facade, and Rebecca, in spite of her groovy 70s looks, looks like a beautiful witch just come from a sabbath. Where ever does Larraz find these exotic women that appear in his films?

The next scene show us a couple driving through a road at night - Paul (Malcolm Terris) and Olivia (Sibyla Grey). They drive slowly through the woods, the night is dark. Paul swerves to avoid a indistinct figure in a white poncho and hits something. No harm is done, but the car is stuck. Help is offered to them by - guess whom - Julian and Rebecca that live in a house nearby.

This house is used by a hippie sect for their ceremonies. There they play their games, smoke their pipes of peace and indulge in their sexual orgies (but they are not concerned about Satan). Remember, this is early 70s England!

Paul and Olivia, the new couple, accidentally(?) arrived in this house, will discover (for good of for bad) the goings-on. And love, repulsion, jealousy and madness will play their hands in what will happen.

"Deviation" is a sensory trip difficult to translate into words. Larraz' world is unique - landscape, people and sensuality blend harmoniously in his films. He's a good actor's director that can extract natural performances from his actors even when they are at their most bizarre.

"Deviation" could be labeled as an atmospheric psycho-horror film - from the very beginning we enter a realm of weirdness and fantasy.

Those of you that have a weak spot for the early 70s and swinging England should check out this film. See the hippie happenings in "the Refuge". And Rebecca teaches us how to smoke the pipe of peace. All this underlined by the beautiful prog rock score by Stelvio Cipriani.
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