I had to choose between this one and Black Christmas for my viewing pleasure last night. I read both descriptions, and this one contained a phrase virtually assured to win it a place as the head of the line: “Leather-clad, motorcycle-riding psychopath.” Unfortunately, while the psychopath in question is indeed leather-clad, he is quite clearly shown riding around in a car at several points. But let’s not trifle.
The movie begins with a blue-tinted gynecological exam, wherein we see a woman die after a man does something to her vagina—we don’t know what yet. Then there’s the credits, where we first experience the fabulous jazz-funk-disco score of Berto Pisano, one of the highlights of the film.
After some other guy is killed, we see this model who looks quite pleased with herself show off her wares along this row of guys, one of whom is this photographer, who runs along behind her in a Speedo, photographing her. He gives her the old “You could be a model” treatment and eventually has her in bed. To my surprise, he actually does take her into the modeling agency the next day! They’re cool to her, there’s a lesbian sex scene, the photographer [Carlo, he is] has an on-set tantrum, and I think a few more people are killed by the leather-clad psychopath. And you know, why do we always ASSUME that anyone on a killing spree is a psychopath?
Anyway, this whole thing is a bouillabaisse of softcore sex and sadism, in which men treat women as sex objects and very little else. It’s also poorly dubbed into English [from Italian] leading to things like the following scene: Carlo the photographer is getting nervous that people might think he’s the killer. This woman mentions that he DID come to the modeling agency with one of the victims [of yeah, the woman from the beginning is dead now, btw], and he leaps upon her, hands choking her, and says “Now listen to me! That woman came to the studio by herself! She didn’t know me! Is that clear?” And the woman goes “Yes. You didn’t have to strangle me.” To which he casually replies: “Oh, sorry.”
Another remarkable scene follows. This obese creep has been seen ogling various women throughout. This one, Doris, is walking down the street, when he says he’ll give her a ride to the end of the block, to the agency where she’s going. He then TAKES OFF in the car and tells her he’s taking her to this park, driving like a maniac while he delivers this constant commentary about how it’s just a few feet more and she’s going to love it. Meanwhile she is getting more and more frantic to get out. Then they arrive at his house, and soon it’s apparent that this entire semi-kidnapping is apparently an appropriate way to coerce a woman into having sex. The woman refuses, then decides to let him, so he takes off his clothes and lays his spherical body atop hers, whereupon he starts weeping because he’s impotent! He has apparently NEVER had sex. The woman doesn’t need a ride back into town—though she is now miles from her destination, and she leaves the man alone, whereupon he takes out an inflatable plastic doll and blows it up, saying “you’re the only one that can make it happen,” as mellow porn music plays. Then he’s brutally murdered. You know—what can one say?
Then there’s a long stalking sequence while more cool music plays [I want this soundtrack], more killing, more leather-clad, car-driving psychopath. Then hot male model Stefano, an asshole misogynist like every man here, gets his genitals cut off, while his girlfriend gets her breast cut off. Then—well don’t you always wonder about how the Medieval weapons that people keep around for decoration are always still razor-sharp? Then after a while the killer is revealed. There’s a long explanation about who it is, whereupon it is revealed that what happened in the beginning was the woman was having an abortion, and it went wrong. Then, in the final frame, Carlo gets some non-consensual anal sex.
It was definitely fun. I liked it. Some compare it to Peeping Tom and Blowup because it apparently indicts us all about wanting to see murder, and it’s all about photography and frames and mirrors and everything. Hmmm, I didn’t see that so much. I just saw a lot of fun sleaziness [in which, it must be noted, women are not shown as intelligent, active beings in charge of their own destiny], and a wild, anything-goes vibe. It’s tonally very much like The Bird With the Crystal Plumage or Tenebrae, but just a hair goofier, so I enjoyed it a great deal more.
Also on the disc are an interview with the screenwriter, who says he gave the director a “story” credit to as to distance himself from the content of the movie, and with one of the actresses, who used to be in a bunch of beer commercials [included]. We also learn that these “sex and thriller” movies became acceptable in Italy after the success of a film called World By Night. Well… now we know.
Yeah, it’s sleazy fun.