In the Folds of the Flesh
One of the more interesting of Severin’s recent DVDs, Sergio Bergonzelli’s film may not be essential to a collection of Euro Horror or giallo, but it is still worth a view, mainly for who’s in it and the touches of madness in the story. If one’s looking for something that will mess up the mind, then this will do well, although if the viewer usually expects a giallo to be more on the sophisticated side, then this just may be something to skip until later. No matter how one rates it personally, and for me this is a good view, it’s clearly is a unique experience which captures some Late 60’s Cinema style.
The opening already gives almost half of the plot away…a head rolls, a woman looks worried and guilty at the same time, and two kids look on while later the lady buries her victim outside, but what happens is quite a guessing game as to how that scene starts up the strange chain of events and messed-up memories that are connected with the quote from Freud that gives the film it’s title. As an escaped convict runs from the police, he stumbles onto the grounds, watching all that she’s doing including sending a passenger-less boat away. With the overlong Day-For-Night style providing a bit of an irritation no matter how much they try to make things believable with using the headlights (To be fair, it could have worked better in the Cinema), but thankfully it only happens in this opening moment.
The family in focus includes Lucille, a Governess who might have kept her great looks for 13 years after the incident with some secret Oil of Oh Yeah, Colin, her son who is now an artist (and judging from his youth as a blond, happens to dye his hair), and a blond wig wearing lovely who calls Falesse, who’s totally blanked out the fact that she is the daughter while having a very manic relationship with Colin. The actress who plays the Governess in reality has some notable moments in Euro Film history – Eleonora Rossi Drago was actually winding up her career after years of great or at least interesting films including Camille 2000, Ship of Condemned Women, and Dorian Gray. Out of this trio, though, the most interesting actress here is Pier Angeli, a Golden Globe winner (and, for a short while, someone who went out with James Dean) who, after marrying Producer Armando Trovajoli, decided to focus her career in Italy after a very erratic career between Hollywood and Europe, and she offers a fine performance in this film, although sadly, her untimely passing through a Barbiturate overdose happened after returning to the US and appearing in the B-Film Octaman, making this a very interesting next-to-final chapter of her life.
…and as one can tell, a cheesy 60’s blond wig is clearly not her style.
Anyways, on with the story…
One by one, the visitors to the place are dying, either by the will of Falesse or by the Mother and Son team, and it’s to question where they actually fit in the story as their appearance brings up looks of puzzlement. First off there’s Michele, someone who claims to be a cousin who has a dog that likes to dig around, and then there’s someone claiming to be his friend who likes to play Snoop-Around-the-House which turns out not to be a game to be played around them. They may have been part of the family’s past, but certainly not among friends, as one might find out later on.
Then there’s the mixed up memories, mind games, and the reappearance of the escaped convict who appears to have broken out once again who has a great “Death by Special Cyanide Bath Tablets” scene (Dropped from a Cuckoo Clock, fittingly!). Throw in memories of innocence lost, a crazed thug who would not keep his hands off of any woman even if they’re not old enough, the Governess’ Nazi Death Camp memories, and even Falesse finding out that she may not be Falesse after all, plus last-minute mind twists including the appearance of someone claiming to be the father, some flashbacks involving gangsters, and a beautiful but recovering woman who’s a part of the family that returns to the house 13 years after the incident, and you have one big mess to figure out until the brief explanation at the end.
Did they just throw all of this together? Did the soundtrack creator just mix music segments together for the opening theme or was it seriously made to reflect the confusion in the film? How did this actually do in it’s original run? Was this even looked at by some Stateside Distributor for a chance at the Grindhouse market? – There was plenty of competition, but this might have done alright.
I have a feeling that Producer/Director Sergio Bergonzelli may have had a major disappointment with this film although he’s to be given credit for trying to go over the top in a way that lets the viewer imagine what it could have been like if he would have went in this way – Then again, the realities of the movie market possibly steered him away to other things. He clearly was no novice as he had a few films to his credit including M.M.M. 83 (1967) and a couple of Westerns in his list, but this gives a sense that he was trying way too hard (And obviously with a low budget) with this film, as he went to more straight ahead Sexploitation (School of Erotic Enjoyment and Our Lady of Lust) after this with possibly more success and then went on to do the occasional film until his passing in 2002. The casting was solid and the acting is good, making the confusion somewhat engaging, but the film as a whole still has a rushed atmosphere to it despite the great location shots and the intriguing story.
You could look around The Internet for someone ready to really throw around the spoilers, but in the spirit of the giallo, I won’t. If you dig films that go beyond the beyond, throws in some warped twists and tries to mess up your mind, then check this out.
Collectors may also want to find the UK release by Redemption Films.