Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Il Sesso della strega / The Sex of the Witch / The Evil Eye

This 1973 giallo starts of as one of those Agatha Christia all'italiana types in presenting a family of suspects gathering for their patriarch's death, swiftly followed by the funeral and the reading of the will and a murder any one of them had motive and opportunity to commit.

What immediately sets the film apart from its English counterpart, besides the too sunny Italian locales doubling for a Worcestershire estate, are the sleaze quotient and contemporary setting – linked inasmuch as the youngsters are more likely to engage in a drugged out happening or orgy than the genteel cocktail parties of their parents or grandparents generations – and the distinct possibility that there may be a supernatural element to the crime(s).

The filmmakers successfully draw us in to their demi-monde at the outset, juxtaposing Sir Thomas Hilton's death-bed thoughts, that his family must end before its name is shamed any further, with two of his servants making love in the family crypt.

Fellini would be jealous...

The funeral

And the reading of the will

A nightclub sequence sees the director break out the weird lenses and colour filters

To achieve his end, Sir Thomas has crafted his will so as to set the family members against one another. Apart from the disinherited Evelyn, each will inherit an equal share of the fortune on turning 30, along with his personal secretary and lover Simon. But if any should die before then their portion is to be divided up amongst the survivors...

After the 29 years and 11 months old Johnny gets bludgeoned to death following some particularly heavy debauchery, the Inspector is called in to see if anyone can tell him anything about the night in question. Good luck to him in solving the case, as he'll very definitely need it...

Recalling the likes of The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times – sharing a key character called Evelyn with both – and The Weekend Murders at times, this is an enjoyable slice of sleaze trash that doesn't take itself too seriously, with writer-director Angelo Panaccio – also coincidentally responsible for Holocaust 2, along with the likes of Naked Exorcism and Porno Exotic Western – targetting the low-hanging fruit by way of the requisite party sequence, lesbian and heterosexual softcore numbers and stalk-and-slash set pieces. In a moment of inspiration there are, however, significantly no black gloves to be seen.

A random breast self-examination

Medieval weaponry is surprisingly common in the giallo

A nice little found composition

The lesbians

And some yellow curtains

The cast is populated by familiar B-movie names of the period, including Donal O'Brien as the inspector and Gianni Dei, Frank Garofalo and Camille Keaton as secretary, servant and nipote respectively. Daniele Patucchi provides a reasonable effective, insistent harpsichord based score, with one repeated doleful progressions coincidentally slightly remiscent of Morricone's work on The Stendhal Syndrome. The cinematography, production design and costumes are bright and colourful in that 70s way, further adding to the lurid comic-book feel.

Cinema Nocturna Review:


Anonymous said...

another excellent review and the fansubs really make a difference, another one available over at CG .

The stunning cover for your readers to enjoy:)



Anonymous said...

whoops here's a clickable link

K H Brown said...

Thanks for this Dario, much appreciated

mark cowherd said...

great review and caps