Discussing previous Glittering Images books on Italian cult cinema a little while back I commented that what was needed was a third volume that continued the story begun by La Dolce Paura and continued by Esotika, Erotika, Psicotika. At the time I didn't know that this third volume, 1970s Italian Sexy Horror: Weirdly Erotic Terror Movies from Cineromanzi Starring Rosalba Neri and Other Lucious Beauties of Cinema Bis, was already on the way.
Co-authored by Stefano Piselli and Antonio Bruschini and opening with a dedication to the memories of Renato Polselli and Mickey Hargitay, the profusely illustrated volume is in the now-established dual language English / Italian format for the authors' commentaries, unlike the earlier entries in the publisher's Bizarre Sinema series which also included French text. The fotoromanzi excerpts that make up the bulk of the volume are in Italian only though it is not exactly difficult to work out what is going on from the pictures themselves even if one does not know the language given that the preceding piece on each film describes the sequence and that their subject matter is largely self-explanatory.
The cover artwork, derived from the poster for Mel Welles' film Lady Frankenstein
The films / fotoromanzi covered are Lady Frankenstein; The Night of the Damned; L'amante del demonio; Frankenstein '80; The Devil's Wedding Night and The Reincarnation of Isabelle – i.e. pop surreal, sadean concoctions of sex and violence whose own aesthetic clearly shows the influence of earlier generations of fotoromanzi and fumetti in pushing things that bit further than their filmic predecessors of the previous decade. (Others prime candidates for the fotoromanzi treatment, like Nude for Satan were inexplicably never translated into the format.)
The key filmmaker emerges as Renato Polselli, a favourite of the authors but also someone whose enduring engagement with the form from The Vampire and the Ballerina onwards marks him as a subject worthy of further research.
Besides all the pictures of Rosalba Neri, Rita Calderoni and company in various states of undress and distress the main aesthetic interest in the excerpts lies in seeing how the fotoromanzi authors have chosen to adapt and translate their filmic source material for the printed page and what is altered thereby with the absence of sound, colour and movement and the new ability to fetishistically pick out details for the reader to linger upon and return to. Away from the obvious, one notes the likes of the the jumbo cords and platform boots worn by Lady Frankenstein's monster (p. 25) and the framing of Raoul as a cut-price reincarnation not of Isabel but of Gorka from Bava's Black Sabbath (p. 87).
Now if only one could get the original fotoromanzi – although having said this a quick search on Ebay indicates that they are out there, while Kult Video also has a fair few...
Originals are out there if you look for them