On the surface, The Wicker Man is the story of one police constable’s attempt to scrooge up a town’s May Day revelries. But The Wicker Man is a film with complex depth, and delving into those murky waters is aided considerably by a few of the key texts
One year for Christmas, I got an LP with which I would become obsessed, and one that continues to find its way into my playlist. It was a bizarre amalgamation of rock opera and old time radio play, featuring the voice talent of none less than Richard Burton: Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.
Twists are heaped upon perversions until the whole thing threatens to collapse into one giddily irredeemable pile of filth that happily violates any taboo of which it could think, and then finds a way to make it all weirder still.
There is a deep vein of cynicism running through the center of Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture a Duckling (aka Non Si Sevizia un Paperino). The same can be said for the vast majority of the man’s work. His filmography is littered with the bodies of people snuffed out in manners most gruesome.
As with his previous film, Miraglia takes the modern setting integral to the spirit of gialli and dresses it up in a bit of old-fashioned Gothic spookiness by, once again, setting a portion of it in a moody Gothic estate full of dark secret passages and dungeon chambers.
Sergio Sollima didn’t direct very many films. His career is split fairly evenly between theatrical and televised fare. Devil in the Brain is not what anyone would consider a technically outstanding movie, but it is solid in its craftsmanship.
The character of the high-kicking female badass was fairly commonplace in Asian cinema by 1974. But in Bollywood, not so much. The 1974 film Geetaa Mera Naam puts just such a character front and center, talking tough, sticking it to the man, and dealing out whoopass to all comers without a thought of depending on male chivalry for her fortunes.
Dharam-Veer is a movie designed to thrill. In addition to the thrill of watching its spectacular musical numbers and beautiful stars, there is the singular thrill that comes from seeing combinations of color and fabric that will likely never be repeated in human history.
With her oversized, anime girl eyes, flitting, hummingbird like movements, and immovable mass of helmet-like hair, Vijaya Lalitha is a perfect human centerpiece for Doss’s cartoon world of over the top action and histrionics.
The Sister of Ursula is like watching a Jess Franco film without that director’s flare. Contemplate that one on the Tree of Woe. Sex scenes, the Italian coast, outlandish murders — everything about The Sister of Ursula seems to operate under the directive of “Well, this should be good, but we’re going to mess it up.”
In fairness, there does seem to be a genuine attempt to create an actual film here. Take the word “attempt” literally in this case. Moments of suspense and dread, though presented with apparent sincerity, are nonetheless clumsily presented few and far between.
With Eye in the Labyrinth, Caiano demonstrates a sure hand in orchestrating his players, staging the action in striking tableaux, and allowing his creative muscles to stretch.
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.
Hatchet for the Honeymoon is not the kind of film to watch for a kill count or ingenuous murders. It is the kind of film to watch for paranormal and sartorial phenomena, ghosts, discotheques, mysterious deaths, horrifying old toys, and the narration of a “paranoiac.”
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.