Few giallo directors were as adept at melding the sundry fetishes that defined the movement as Luciano Ercoli. Nudity, violence, cabaret numbers, quirky camera work, exquisite living rooms, and flash clothing all hit their crescendo under the steady guidance of a man who seems to treat every film as a fashion shoot.
Deep End is a film about the awkwardness of transition and the disillusionment that inevitably follows a time of idealism. It was released in 1970, when the dying days of the Summer of Love were giving way to the cynicism of the 1970s; when people swept up in the promise of revolution finally had to face the reality of promises not kept.
Immediately after completing Les Vampires, Feuillade threw himself into his next feature, another original serial called Judex. The slow move toward domestic melodrama that crept into the end of Les Vampires was front and center in Judex.
Musidora wears this maillot de soie sporadically, a few minutes spread throughout the serial’s nearly seven hours, yet that is – not undeservedly – the indelible iconic image not just of Les Vampires, but of Louis Feuillade’s entire filmography.
Creating an emotional attachment to the characters and a sympathetic reaction to the violence against them isn’t a giallo priority. Who Saw Her Die? is the rare giallo that attempts and succeeds this, thanks to a committed performance by former James Bond, George Lazenby.
In the early days of serials and silent film, two actresses emerged who represented two sides of the publicity coin. Pearl White was the queen of the stunt serials, a wholesome midwestern heroine. Theda Bara, in contrast, was dark and mysterious and loved nothing more than destroying men.
Fantomas is less concerned with getting away with it than he is with sowing chaos. Sure, he wants their jewels, but mostly, Fantômas just wants to hurt people. As one of the ads for the movie trumpeted, “Il fait PEUR!”