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Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: Giallo a Venezia (1979)

aka Giallo In Venice

If you are one to measure your enjoyment of an Italian Giallo by its relative sleaze factor, then you might consider Mario Landi's Giallo a Venezia the greatest thing since black gloves.  It's trashy, crude and devoid of any real style; however, the extreme nature of the film definitely earmarks it as one of the nastiest Giallos to ever be produced.  It is for this reason alone I might recommend searching out this rare title if you're an enthusiast of the genre.  You know, for bragging rights.

We initially open to a tight zoom of a man's crotch being repeatedly stabbed by scissors.  After that auspicious intro we cut to suave and cocksure Inspector DePaul, who is called in to investigate a strange double murder along the Venice canal.  The female victim has been drowned, then drug ashore; while the male victim has been brutally attacked and found with drugs in his pocket.  As it turns out, the two bodies are that of a married couple by the names of Fabio and Flavia.

The Inspector and his trusty bald side-kick Maestrin proceed to question suspects in the case.  DePaul visits Flavia's good friend Marzia, who uncomfortably reveals to the badge that Fabio was a sadistic cocaine addict with some major sexual dysfunctions.  She relates to DePaul some instances of Fabio forcing his wife to indulge his perverse whims to achieve arousal.  During this interrogation Marzia receives a number of threatening calls from an obsessed ex-boyfriend.

Maestrin later tails Marzia when she meets with Marco the coke dealer and expresses her concern over the heat having come a knocking.  He tells her to calm down and smarten up, dismissing her anxieties.  Meanwhile, a young man in shades is intently watching this meeting from a distance.  Hmm.  Another murder transpires before DePaul gets a tip and makes contact with an old love interest of Flavia's.  He also relates some lurid stories to the Inspector which further describe the deceased couple's bizarre relationship; however, DePaul suspects the man is also hiding something that might tie him in to the crime.

The killer then strikes again by striking a match, before capturing Marzia and painting the most unsettling sequence in the film: she's assaulted and bound naked to a table, where the assailant produces a large knife and begins graphically sawing off her leg exclaiming "I have to do it. It's for your own good!"  When Marzia passes out, he quickly slaps her back into consciousness just to increase her agony.  The maniac is captured soon after, but insists to the detectives that he had nothing to do with Fabio and Flavia's deaths.

And so the beat goes on…

On a technical level Giallo a Venezia offers nothing of interest.  The photography is mechanically static and strictly serviceable.  The low production values give the entire film a rather cold look which actually amplifies the seemliness of it all, especially during the more violent episodes.  Additionally, the score achieves little, being largely uninspired and chock full of what I would have to call z-grade porn music at best.  A compliment can at least be given to the performances of the actors, as they all throw themselves very believably into their roles - thin though they might be.

The story, although minimal, is actually pretty engaging and suitably knotty.  It strings you along as any good Giallo should and throws a curve ball or two at us before its unpredictable conclusion.  That's all great.  However, it spends way too much time loitering on all the strange sexual escapades for it to ever gather any real suspense.  A couple of brief and bombastic killings break up a film largely padded with one increasingly ugly and perverse sex scene after another, to the point of tedium.  So you've been warned.

For other crazy adventures in Landi-Land I humbly suggest Patrick Still Lives (1980), another over the top sleaze-fest with slightly higher aspirations and enjoyment factor co-starring Mariangela Giordano again.  And yes, she gets naked quite a bit and very bad things eventually happen to her.  (Some also might remember Giordano as the woman who gets her breast bitten off in Andrea Bianchi's schlock-filled zombie opus Burial Ground.)

and the awards go to:
* Jeff Blynn as Inspector DePaul, the habitual hard-boiled egg eating detective with poofy feathered hair who enjoys the occasional joke at a victim's expense and says, "I swear that this logical aspect will drive me nuts!"
* Mariangela Giordano as Marzia, for playing another woman of loose morals who enjoys showing off her shapely figure and tells Marco, "You bastard! I could ruin you!" before she gets slapped around and lets him have his way with her.
* The unknown man in the dirty movie theater who whips it out and masturbates while Fabio lets him grope Flavia.
* Gianni Dei as Fabio, who quite simply plays his sleaze-bag role to perfection.
* Leonora Fani as poor Flavia, who is forced to endure all manner of sexual humiliation and abuse throughout the entire proceedings.
* The rolling-eye gag in the charred head.
* And finally to director Mario Landi, for doing things without an inkling of pretension or artistry; whether it be an exterior scene, a scuzzy lovemaking sequence, or a graphic close-up of a woman's vagina being stabbed.  Oh, what?  Hadn't I mentioned that one?

1 comment:

  1. Watching this film was a traumatic experience. Run away from it!