Friday, October 15, 2010


(Dario Piana, 1988)
This late 80's giallo, like so many before it, takes place in the seedy underbelly of the modeling world. Fresh-faced model Sylvia O'Neal is raped at a hot tub party and her charred corpse is later found behind the wheel of a wrecked car. She's soon replaced by new model Melanie Roberts, whose arrival in Milan heralds a killing spree centered on anyone connected to the night of Sylvia's assault.
For fear of incriminating themselves, the remaining girls refuse to cooperate with the police, who have little time to unmask the murderer before all are killed. There's no shortage of suspects as the agency is full of sleazy photographers, aggressive managers, and ruthless models.
Too Beautiful To Die is a stylish erotic thriller with beautifully composed scenes, beautiful girls, and beautiful murders. Director Dario Piana cleverly plays with viewers' expectations a few times, and even throws in a few nods to the work of Dario Argento with his focus on water, lighting, and fetishism of death. Some viewers may be a bit distracted by the numerous slow motion montages of girls frolicking, modeling, and whoring it up, but it does add to the sensuous feel of the film. The murders are eloquently executed, but not overly bloody.
Being of late 80's descent, TBTD does suffer from the usual charmingly dated synthpop soundtrack, so-so dubbing, huge hair and fashion, and use of antiquated technology. The early 3D imaging of a bullet hole in Sylvia's skull, which could more easily have been obtained with an x-ray, had me in stitches! One could easily make a drinking game of this and have a shot every time a computer screen makes an appearance. I'd actually recommend this to giallo fanatics, but it's not yet available on DVD or BluRay. Happy hunting!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


(Gianni Martucci, 1980)
This backwoods giallo obscurity was never released in English, and probably never will be. It's a little slow and predictable, but entertaining nonetheless.
Trhauma opens on two young boys, one of whom dares the other to climb a tree. Upon doing so, the boy falls from the tree and is chastised by the other. End prologue. Did I miss something there? In the average giallo, the traumatic occurrence at the start sets the tone and provides a clue as to the killers motive. I discovered about 10 minutes later that it did explain the killer's motive, and I had most of it already figured out. I then thanked God and Vishnu for the disco soundtrack, as it was going to be a while before the end. Anyway, back to the story...
Many years later, the injured boy has grown into a psychotic man and lives in a basement or store room. We know he is psychotic as he plays with Lego, kills animals, and has sex with dead human bodies. For reasons later divulged, he begins to stalk and kill the friends and owners of an isolated villa in the woods. This being a giallo, we know the stalker can't possibly be working alone...
Made at the bitter end of the giallo boom, Trhauma lacks the inventiveness and originality that come with the genre. Like Murder Obsession and Tenebre, Trhauma was obviously influenced by the American slasher movie, though it lacks most of the requisite gore. Martucci's uninspired direction and languid pacing make the film drag at times, though this is offset by occasional scenes of nudity, sleaze, and misogyny. The story contains no fresh ideas, and is a mishmash of the usual giallo themes of murder, inheritance, blackmail, etc.
The only pluses I give Trhauma are for the effective use of light and shadow, the bizarre shot compositions, the disco-matic synthesizer score, and the downer ending. Oh, and all the green. I can't say I've seen a giallo with more emphasis on green than yellow! I'd not recommend this to horror fans, though giallo freaks like myself (and YOU! and YOU!)could likely make it through the first (and only) time. It's not on DVD or BluRay as of yet, so happy downloading!


(Ovidio G. Assonitis, 1979)
With a storyline that borrows from films such as The Birds, The Omen, and Carrie, The Visitor is terribly confusing! Ovidio's eye for bizarre imagery and clever editing are what set this title apart from its ilk.
Katy Collins is a young girl gifted with telekinetic powers, which she uses primarily out of greed or ego. Katy's mother is targeted by both a shady organization intent on having her produce another gifted child, and Katy herself when she learns of this design. An old man is sent from a distant world to Earth to convince Katy to follow the path of the righteous (by giving her a gun for her birthday, with which she shoots her mother???), but she proves more than resistant to the notion.
As mentioned, The Visitor makes little to no sense. Characters at one moment appear to be evil, then are later revealed to actually be good despite having done bad things. Characters' motives are never clearly explained, and the unfolding of events are far removed from reality. The acting is wonderfully overdone by the likes of Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, and Shelley *yes, SHELLEY* Winters!
I reiterate, The Visitor is an oddly beautiful film, somewhat in the vein of Dario Argento's Inferno in that it makes no sense but is interesting to watch. The music is also strangely inappropriate in most scenes, which only adds to the general weirdness of the proceedings. I'd not recommend this for newer viewers as it's really more of a science fiction film with bits of horror thrown in. Experienced viewers will find many a nugget of corny goodness herein! Buy it here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


(Antonio Margheriti, 1980)
During the Vietnam war, POWs Tom (Tony King) and Charlie (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) are discovered eating human flesh in a tiger pit. Their captain, Norman Hopper (John Saxon) is bitten while helping them escape, and Tom and Charlie are sent to a psychiatric institute in America.
Roughly a decade later, Charlie is seemingly cured of his cannibalistic tendencies and released. His release is only temporary, however, as he bites and woman in a theater, kills a biker and a security guard, and holes himself up in the hunting section of a local market. Norman hears of the situation and convinces Charlie that he needs to resume treatment, but doesn't tell anyone of his own recent craving for blood despite having bitten the neighbor's niece.
It's discovered that the former POWs have contracted a virus that drives men to madness and cannibalism, and Norman has it as well. Before long, Tom, Charlie, Norman, and a recently infected nurse arm themselves and escape through the sewers of Atlanta. The military, fearing a pandemic, attempt to stop them at any cost.
Viewers expecting Cannibal Holocaust (or Ferox!)- style gutmunching and violence may be slightly disappointed with Cannibal Apocalypse as it's really more of an action flick than horror. It does contain a fair amount of bloodshed, but emphasis is placed more on the story and characters than most other Italian exploitation films. Director Antonio Margheriti shows off his decades of B movie-making experience with some attractive camerawork and a detailed (though discontinuous) plot. Cannibal Apocalypse can still be purchased new through third party sellers here.