Thursday, 31 January 2008

Il Delitto del diavolo / Queens of Evil

A lonely road at night, somewhere by the sea. David (Ray Lovelock), an idealistic young hippie biker type, stops to assist an older man whose Rolls Royce has broken down. David might have wondered why he bothered when the man not only berates him for his unconventional lifestyle, lack of religion and respect for tradition, but also surreptitiously spikes one of his tyres.

The knight of the road on his quest for freedom; note the Laszlo Kovacs style lens flare

The man

Having repaired the flat, David goes off in pursuit of the man, his peace and love philosophy again evident insofar as he wants to know what motivated the older man. His quarry speeds up rather than slowing down, however, precipitating a crash.

Faced with this scene, David attempts to flag down a passing truck. The driver and co-driver only see another dirty hippy and decline to stop. Deciding that there is nothing he can do, David departs. Taking a back road, he finds a cabin in the woods and settles down for the night.

The next morning David is awoken by a beautiful young woman, Liv (Haydee Politoff). She wonders what he is doing there and indicates that he had best leave as soon as possible before anyone else notices his presence. Evidently having past experience of similar situations, David thinks that Liv means her parents, and is accordingly surprised when he is confronted with two slightly older, but equally beautiful women, Samantha (Silvia Monti) and Fabiana (Evelyn Stewart / Ida Galli) – who present themselves as Liv’s elder sisters.


Samantha and Fabiana

They invite him in for breakfast. Both hungry and intrigued, David takes up the offer, finding his curiosity even more piqued by the half-fairytale half-Habitat and Biba décor of the sister's house and their just happening to have baked four large cakes as if expecting a guest.

The sisters' house, dominated by their pictures. Are they to be looked at or looking?

Having gorged his fill – gluttony is evidently not one of the deadly sins on this occasion – the young man moves to leave but has a change of heart; significantly we view this scene with the sisters, who plainly expected to see him return.

Yes, David

An idyllic morning on the lake ensues culminating in an almost miraculous catch of fish. Is it just the spot where they always congregate at noon, as the sisters explain, or something more? Whatever the case, another extravagant repast follows along with another even more half-hearted attempt to leave.

The female gaze

As the days go on, David finds himself increasingly bewitched by the sisters's glamour, his former certainties and resolution dissolving, powerless to avoid the fate that awaits him even as Liv hesitantly once more tries to encourage him to leave before it is too late…

As the back cover review on this DVD indicates, Tonino Cervi's Queens of Evil is best viewed as an allegory, David less an Easy Rider or Wild One situated against a concrete historical and geographical background than a questing knight in a modern yet mythic landscape that could be anywhere in the west. His holy grail is freedom, the three sisters the belle dames sans merci put there to tempt him off his righteous path.

A coach approaches the castle as we move deeper into fairy-tale territory

Following from this allegorical nature, the usual rules of engagement with film do not apply. Rather, as with such other reference points as Riccardo Freda's Tragic Ceremony, Dario Argento's Inferno, Jean Brismee's The Devil's Nightmare, Aldo Lado's Short Night of the Glass Dolls and Giorgio Ferroni's Night of the Devils it is the kind of film where atmosphere and symbolism are more important than narrative logic and the creation of characters and situations we could believe exist in the real world.

Taken in its own terms, the film succeeds admirably.

Though Cervi's direction is sometimes obvious, this obviousness is as much part and parcel of the film's effectiveness as the obvious weight attached to each and every line of dialogue. We know that David knows his resolve is crumbling in the face of the three sisters, and more importantly that he increasingly does not care to resist.

Elsewhere the director's approach is more subtle, with some clever compositions and use of focus to highlight the shifting contours of the relationships between the four characters.

The film's subtexts are also fascinating, whether the play upon the biblical idea of being fishers of men when the sisters take David onto the lake, with the ironic equivalence between his position and that of his erswhile catch, or the entire way in which the film's regimes of looking and being looked at fail to accord with regulation issue male / female active / passive structures and strictures.

No doubt if we wanted to then read the film as ultimately a misogynistic, male paranoid work where active female sexuality is presented as the greatest threat to the ideals of counter-cultural revolution – and here we perhaps have to note the specific historical context of the film's production, coming at a point where gender politics were coming on the agenda more than they had been only a few years earlier – we could do so. The three women, are after all, ultimately obeying the law of their father. His real identity should be obvious even without a consideration of the Italian title, Il Delitto del diavolo: favola thrilling, with this in turn being a title that implies a different degree of agency to the sisters than the English language alternative, where they are The Queens of Evil.

The real point, however, is that things are never quite as simple as either / or theories would have it.

The film's theology is also interesting on this count: Whereas in Rosemary's Baby the Devil's greatest power stems from the fact that few besides his followers really believe in him anymore in the “Age of Aquarius,” here he requires us to have faith, even if only so that this same faith – in David's case in that hope of an alternative way of being – can in turn be broken.

In both films, however, the real absence is perhaps the same one: God's. And yet, again Cervi's film complicates matters. Is a priest who David later encounters at a gathering, and who urges him that the time has come to make a decision – a decision that the rest of the film has been building up to – but who pointedly remains apart from the others there in fact God, his representative or another of the Devil's agents? And, in line with the décor of the elegantly appointed castle at which this gathering takes place, with many of the portraits adorning the walls apparently of cardinals, is there any significant difference? Is, in the end, this a religious or anti-religious allegory? Are the laws of “God the father” and “your father, the Devil” one and the same in terms of subjecting oneself to the other's and society's will?

Whether any of this makes sense in traditional theological terms is, of course, debatable. But whatever the case Queens of Evil is a heady fantastique brew whose only hangover, pleasant rather than nasty, is the stimulus it provides to thought.

The difficulty, as ever, is that the kind of audiences who went go to see Eric Rohmer's “Moral Tale” La Collectioneuse and who might have noticed the presence of Haydee Politioff here and been pleasantly surprised by what they, would likely have pre-judged Cervi's the film as Euro-trash, beneath them, at least in the English-speaking world.

Though not really an actors' film, the four leads are perfectly adequate in their roles. Politoff has perhaps the most challenging role alongside Lovelock, having to play something of the innocent in contrast to the more mature Monti and Stewart whose primary role – which they understandably perform beautifully – is to to be seductive and alluring, although importantly in distinctive ways that suit their respective images, Monti more obviously passionate and Stewart more aloof and icy.

Lovelock displays an easy going naïve charm, and also intriguingly contributes a couple of non-diegetic songs to the soundtrack. They're somewhat sub-Dylan, but come across as genuine and thus add rather than detract from the whole. Francesco Lavagnino provides the rest of the music, an effective selection of empathetic pieces which enhance the mood of any given scene, be it playful or more sinister.

Though one of the supporting characters indicates that “Audio visual means are no longer effective,” the cumulative effect of this beguiling piece of fantastique is to prove otherwise.

This DVD has been put together by Johnny from Lovelock and Load and Marc from Mondo Erotico. It's a by-fans for-fans kind of release rather than a commercial product. You won't find it for sale in your local or online retailer of choice as it isn't for commercial sale. So, of course, how do you get a copy? Visit Johnny's website and find out...

The care and consideration that have gone into the package put many commercial releases of comparable product to shame. The picture is a considerable improvement on the old VHS dupes out there, while the choice of English and Italian audio is always welcome. The inclusion of the two Lovelock songs among the extras is a nice touch, as is the cover art modelled on the film's art deco styled poster.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Die Tote aus der Themse / The Body in the Thames

Danny Fergusson (Uschi Glas) arrives in swinging London to the news that her sister Myrna, who was involved with a heroin smuggling operation has been killed. Though the police have the heroin, they have neither Myrna’s body, which mysteriously disappeared from a Soho brothel between the time its manager reluctantly called the police and their arrival, nor any clue as to who might be responsible.

Then a photographer who was at the scene and snapped some shots of the dead woman notices something strange: in between the first and the second sets that he took, Myrna put on her shoe and moved changed her position slightly. In other words, she wasn’t dead. She might well soon be, however, if the mysterious assassin who is now working his – or her – way through all those connected with the operation, always one step ahead of the men from Scotland Yard, has anything to do with it…

This Edgar Wallace adaptation was made late in the krimi cycle, at the point where it was increasingly looking tired compared to the Italian giallo. The lighting and direction are for the most part flat, having little of the neo-expressionist styles of either the earlier black and white krimis themselves nor the contemporaneous gialli.

The most obvious exception to this, the slaughterhouse which forms of the base of operations of one of the criminal conspirators, is meanwhile too realist, merely unpleasant rather than grotesque / symbolic – though thankfully there is no mondo-style animal slaughter footage, merely the near-surreal sight of pig carcasses bobbing about in water.

Though the location shots actually include a scene at Piccadilly Circus and show Uschi Glas’s Danny crossing in front of Scotland Yard, as situations whereas earlier krimis would only feature stock footage (though there are ), the attempts at evoking “swinging London,” like the Blow Up-esque photographer, who shoots the dead woman as if it were for a fashion spread, misfire somewhat.

Whereas in the earlier krimis the skewed attempts at recreating the milieu of pre-WWII yet with-it England had a certain charm, here the evocation of the near contemporaneous “swinging London” is merely that bit too out of date, too close to the reality, too kitsch; insufficiently naïve / charming.

Though the killer wears black gloves, this was a visual element common to both krimi and the giallo, with the fact that his weapon of choice is a silenced pistol or rifle – even if it is treated somewhat fetishistically – and his motive fiduciary rather than psychosexual cumulatively indicating where the film can better be situated. Yet, against this there is the killer’s identity,c revealed in the end as one that quite possibly impossible or unrepresentable a decade before; to say much more would run the risk of ruining the whodunit.

Krimi regulars will also appreciate the presence of Siegfried Schurenberg, Gunther Stoll and Werner Peters amongst the supporting cast, while giallo fans may note the departure from the airport at the film’s close a la The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. (As a random more “academic” point, one gets the increasing impression that one of the failings of the giallo and krimi essays in the first edition of the Fear Without Frontiers is the failure of their respective authors or, more pointedly, their editor to really bring the interconnections, similarities and differences between the two forms out: how far is the Italian giallo Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso different from its German krimi counterpart Edgar Wallace - Das Rätsel des silbernen Halbmonds; how far does the national-cultural framework with which we approach the same film affect our interpretation of it?)

In sum, too little, too late, but intriguing for fans of the form nonetheless for these selfsame reasons.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Gli Occhi dentro / Madness / Eyes Without a Face

A madman is on the loose. Worryingly, his distinctive modus operandi appears to be modeled on the fumetti character Doctor Dark, a Jekyll and Hyde figure who is a respectable professor by day and a serial killer by night, enucleating his babysitter victims in a distinctive manner apparently derived from the ancient Egyptians (Dark is a scholar of pagan religions) by way of Lenzi’s Eyeball crossed with Carpenter’s Halloween.

Got my black gloves on, got my ski mask on...

Contrary to what it might look like, this is not Fulci's The New York Ripper

At a press conference organised by comic's publishers, Doctor Dark’s co-author Giovanna Dei comes in for criticism a la Peter Neal in Tenebre, which she deflects in much the same manner as her predecessor, albeit with the responsibilities of “Smith and Wesson” mutating into those of “Black and Decker,” and the foregrounding of media violence and its influence more generally over the specific topic of violence against women. (“How do you reply to the accusation that your comic strip has a negative effect on its readers?”)

Just in case you forget which type of film you are watching

Though she resolves to keep writing the popular, profitable fumetti, and persuades her collaborator to likewise continue, Giovanna also agrees that it would be a good idea to get away from the city and work for a bit. And not a moment too soon, since upon returning to her studio she finds some evidence of the killer’s having paid a visit, including eyeballs floating in a jar…

Contrary to what it might look like, this is not Lenzi's Eyeball

Surprisingly, however, the black clad, masked figure presumably responsible for the crimes then proves comparatively easy to apprehend – albeit after a few more victims and ‘presents’ for the increasingly terrified Giovanna.

The police, however, are not convinced that the man – a reporter, named Caligari no less, who had earlier attended the press conference called by Giovanna’s publisher – is anything but a crank who tried to take advantage of the murders to further his own moralistic agenda…

And, given that we are less than half the way into the narrative nor are we likely to be, nor surprised when the killings continue – especially when the Tenebre intertext and that the fact the film was made too early to be Se7te – i.e. Se7en, Italian style – are also taken into consideration.

I mention the latter film in relation to Gli Occhi dentro / Eyes Without a Face / Madness’s three greatest surprises.

First, that it was directed by notorious hack Bruno Mattei, albeit under the pseudonym Herik Montgomery.

Second, that it was released in 1994 rather than 1974 or 84, Mattei otherwise being the sort of filmmaker who could be pretty much relied upon to cash in on a trend – or even likely-seeming trend – as soon as possible in the time-honoured manner of the filone filmmaker.

Third, that it is actually rather good, making one wish that he had turned his attentions to the giallo sooner and made more films within it, keeping one engaged throughout and delivering the requisite suspense, shocks and generic tropes.

“I thought you’d gotten used to these things!”
“In the movies, doctor, that happens only in the movies!”


Yes, there are a few moments of ‘gratuitous’ nudity and violence, but to be honest one wouldn’t expect anything else given the giallo and fumetti pedigree, with these in any case forcing us to bracket the notion of gratuitous somewhat: what is an exploitation movie if it doesn’t contain exploitative elements?

In case you had the film and Doctor Dark confused with Sexy Cat...

Fundamentally, however, Gli occhi dentro is harmless fun rather than the kind of thing you might find yourself having to justify enjoying, more a Strip Nude for Your Killer or Eyeball style romp than a New York Ripper scuzzfest.

This is not, it must be understood, a criticism of Fulci’s film. Rather it is about trying to understand each film in its own terms, recognizing that a one size fits all approach does not work.

The more stylized approach Mattei takes, flooding the screen with blocks of bright primary colours, with contrasting yellows and blues predominating, introduces that degree of distance from reality missing from Fulci’s more problematic masterwork.

But then, as Opera and Madness alike remind us, it also “all depends on what you mean by reality”

The actors aren’t the greatest, but have the right looks for their roles, especially the attractive, vaguely Cristina Marsillach like Monica Seller / Carol Farres, who also displays a nice line in Fenech-style hysteria.

Where is she now – another victim of the death of the Italian popular cinema?

The scoring, if hardly giving the best of Morricone or Nicolai’s work two decades earlier a run for the money, nevertheless pushes the appropriate buttons in ratcheting up the suspense and augmenting the shocks.

[A torrent of the film, from which these screen captures are taken, is available from Cinemageddon]

The pleasure of the intertext

Just stuck on Mino Guerrini's Il Terzo occhio, which I'd been intrigued about since reading about in the appendix to Adrian Luther Smith's Blood and Black Lace, where it is identified as the source for D'Amato's more famous Beyond the Darkness.

As the credits rolled, I thought the music sounded familiar. It is: an orchestral reworking of the waltz music box theme in Freda's The Ghost, though I can't remember if there's also actually an orchestral version in there. And, of course, Freda's film was an in-name sequel to his earlier The Horrible Secret of Dr Hichcock, which also has a necrophiliac theme.

That Il Terzo occhio was produced by Panda could also have something to do with it, in a more mundane money saving way, of course...

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Historia de una traición / Nel buio del terrore / The Great Swindle

A suicidal prostitute, Carla (Marisa Mell), is saved from leaping off a cliff by an artist, Arthur (Stephen Boyd). Reluctantly going back to work for her madam/manager, Carla is introduced to a wealthy businessman, Luis (Fernando Rey), and soon becomes his regular companion, though she is more circumspect about formalizing their relationship into marriage.

Staying at a hotel, Carla meets another ex-prostitute, Nora (Sylva Koscina), now working as a chambermaid in a hotel; we soon learn that they had a more intimate history together, with it apparently being Nora’s departure which precipitated Carla’s suicide bid.

Note the yellow dress; the film makes good use of colour symbolism

Carla decides to help Nora out, giving her a place to stay and a new wardrobe – being Luis’s mistress clearly has its material advantages. Her actions are not entirely altruistic, however, insofar as she is still infatuated with Nora and has designs on rekindling their relationship.

One day Luis pays a visit when Carla is absent, and invites her to lunch in Carla’s stead. Before long Nora and Luis are an item and Carla is on the way out from their lives. The return of Arthur in Carla’s own life around the same time provides some distraction, although suspiciously he also has problems of his own with some low-lives if one wants to look for an ulterior motive.

The mirror shot, take two

Nora and Luis marry, only for Luis to die in a tragic airplane accident, leaving Nora his fortune and the way open for Carla to return…

The question, as ever, is whether everything is as it seems.

A happy ending, or new beginning?

The answer, as always, is not entirely; to say much more surely would ruin things for the first-time viewer, although even the most expert viewer will find it difficult to predict each and every turn of the screw.

This 1971 Spanish-Italian co-production – the former apparently the dominant partner in the relationship – deserves to be better known and to receive a better treatment than it gets here, the available torrent being sourced from a bleached out Greek VHS taken from a jumpy, scratchy print.

Insofar as it does deserve a look, however, this is less down to director José Antonio Nieves Conde than a well crafted screenplay which keeps one guessing and a welcome array of familiar genre names and faces - Mell, Koscina, Rey, Boyd, Massimo Serato, Howard Ross and Simon Andreu – providing the necessary glamour and/or sleaze.

The basic flaw in Nieves Conde’s direction is an overactive zoom lens, though the more charitable viewer might consider it a conscious, laying bare the device in the manner of Bava’s Five Dolls for an August Moon. While I don’t think the film quite does this, some more subtle shots, such as the occasional telling two shot where one character is tellingly reflected in the mirror and the other not, do indicate some film-making intelligence at work.

As much a character driven drama as anything else, the film qualifies as a giallo in terms of the late 60s sexy thriller style in which the beautiful people – or, in some cases, those who aspire to be such – do unpleasant things to one another against a backdrop of sun-drenched luxury villas and an aural wallpaper of breezy easy listening. There's little of the overt psychosexual angst of the Argento style giallo predominant at the time, but plenty of la dolce vita e morte.

It’s very much the usual story of simultaneously allowing the audience to enjoy is virtue in principle and its vice in practice, where the possibility of a conservative ending could always be dangled before the censors as proof that crime does not pay and the narrative as a whole cast as a representation of the dangers which the independent woman presented to the social order…

The difference were the film to be remade as an “erotic thriller” today would be that there would be no need for such pretenses-cum-justifications.

[The torrent for the film is available from Cinemageddon under the title Nel buio del terrore]

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Dario Argento: A Musical and Visual Tribute to the Cinema of Argento

This is another one of those book and CD combos which have been coming out of Italy of late. The bulk of the 150-page hardback book presents a chronological pictorial overview of Argento’s career through on-set and still photographs, album covers and posters and is a delight to leaf through.

These are bookended by an introductory overview of the director and his work and two concluding interviews. The first, with Argento, is very brief and dates back a number of years, having previously made an appearance on the Ennio Morricone / Dario Argento Trilogy CD released by DRG in 1995. The second, with Claudio Simonetti, is a bit more substantial and up-to-date. Each piece also suffers from some awkward turns of phrase in the translation from Italian to English, though never so bad as to be unreadable babelfish-ism.

The 16-track CD, which also proceeds in chronological fashion, is more problematic. The first six tracks, representing Morricone’s Animal Trilogy scores and Goblin’s work on Deep Red (Giorgio Gaslini’s contribution there and to the Door into Darkness TV series and Le cinque giornate unsurprisingly absent) are fine.

Suspiria, however, sounds like it is represented not by an original Goblin version but by a later Simonetti re-recordings, with the same also pertaining in the case of Tenebre.

Whilst perhaps adding value to the collector who is likely to already have various other versions of the soundtracks and Simonetti re-recordings, tracks like these really don’t fit with the back-cover claim to “the best tracks from the original film scores”.

One also questions the wisdom of including Steel Grave’s speed metal from Opera and the closing “tribute bonus track,” by Signor Wolf in this regard, especially when these selections seem to come at the expense of anything from Two Evil Eyes, The Phantom of the Opera or, most criminally, The Stendhal Syndrome.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

A New Heritage of Horror

As the title indicates, this is the new version of A Heritage of Horror, the seminal book on the British Gothic horror cinema by David Pirie first published in 1973. More than double the length of the previous edition, which has been long out-of-print and continues to command a price second hand, it both updates the previous material and introduces new discussions, particularly of the long demise of Hammer in the later 1970s and the history of British horror, such as it was / is, in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

The only negative as far as I was concerned are some typographical and factual errors that should have been trapped, like referring to the Austrian Michael Haneke, director of Hidden, as the German Peter Haneke.

The main change to the previous material, focusing on Hammer and Terence Fisher in particular, is the incorporation of more material on some of the director’s earlier and more obscure films and on the often difficulty relationship between the studio and the BBFC, both of which were unavailable to Pirie in the early 1970s.

Elsewhere, one is gratified to see a pioneering analysis of the films of Vernon Sewell, which demonstrates that the hitherto maligned Curse of the Crimson Altar is of a piece with the rest of the director’s work, while the connections Pirie draws between The Wicker Man and the TV production Robin Redbreast and the real-life occult murder in Lower Quinton demonstrate his intimate knowledge of the subject.

Pirie’s post-first edition career as a screenwriter also pays dividends by giving him an insider’s understanding of the ins and outs of film production during the dark days of the 80s and 90s and the unfortunate realities of the marketplace.

In the end, the thing that most impresses is the basic soundness of Pirie’s judgements, with those presented in the first edition – the English Gothic as the central anti-realist tradition in British cinema and the status of Fisher as an auteur whose work deserved to be taken seriously – having so clearly stood the test of time.

While time will tell as far as his reading of the contemporary situation goes, there seems no reason not to assume that his judgements will again prevail, even if those who finance films and decide cultural policy continue to neglect this by now half a century old filmic tradition.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

La Terza Madre English subs

La Terza Madre .SRT file here:

Thanks to whoever put them together :-)

Voice of God is Government

Does anyone know who provides the voice of the father in Four Flies on Grey Velvet's asylum scenes, in the English dub of the film?

To me, the voice sounds like that of whoever also voices Bud Spencer, which could of course make for some interesting voice of God the father type theoretical points to be made...

For that matter, if anyone can remember, does the voice in the Italian dub function in a similar way?

Saturday, 5 January 2008

The Zen of Cult

I’ve been reading David Bordwell’s Planet Hong Kong. I don’t really follow Hong Kong cinema as much as I used to and have some reservations about the kind of cognitivist/historical poetic approach Bordwell advocates insofar as I sometimes worry that it could become an overarching capital T theory in itself should more cognitivism or formalism be seen as the unreflexive answer to any problem confronted in the data of the films.

This said, one of the strengths of Bordwell’s approach is his willingness to let meaning emerge out of the films and their cultural and industrial contexts, rather than trying to impose some set of ready-made Theory upon them. It’s an approach which, in the context of the book’s subject, is like Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do, where the ideal is to learn from all other schools but without succumbing to having a doctrine of one’s own because doctrines are limiting.

Just like Lee’s character in Enter the Dragon, who says that he does not strike but rather that his fist strikes all by itself, it’s what I’d like to aspire to in relation to genre cinema: I do not approach the film for meaning, its meaning also approaches me.

I would love to see someone do a Planet Hong Kong of the Italian popular cinema of the 1960s and 1970s in a similar vein. To give one example: Bordwell notes how Hong Kong screenwriters, knowing that they were dealing with a 90 or 100 minute narrative, would often construct their stories around the nine reels this represented, ensuring that there was some incident in each. Their films aren't badly constructed, just constructed with different assumptions to Hollywood.

In this regard, it would be useful to know , for instance, what the effect of the interval in the Italian film of this time was on screenwriters’ practice: did they consciously figure that at the 40, 45 or 50 minute mark there had to be a dramatic moment, then some kind of recapitulation to ease the audience back in? (The Anchor Bay DVD of Don’t Torture a Duckling is a good example of this – we have the funeral climaxing part one, then watch the police film of this same funeral as the opening of part two.) How arbitrary was the positioning of the interval – was it done by the filmmakers, or the theatre projectionist? Did the more professional figures – Ernesto Gastaldi, say – think through their craft in relation to things like this in a way that their lesser counterparts did not?

Normal service should be resumed shortly by the way – I have just been very busy with work and the inevitable seasonal whirl of socializing and recovering from socializing.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

A very cool community

Anyone interested in obscure cult films would be well advised to check out Cinemageddon.

They have Secret of Seagull Island, for example. Next stop Liquid Microscopic Subway to Oblivion?

Co production hierarchy?

In Italian co-productions of the 1960s and 1970s do you think there was something of a hierarchy of prestige/respectability, where a French co-production ranked at the top and a Spanish one at the bottom? The French Sex Murders would be a rule proving exception.

I'm thinking of the difference between Cat o' Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet, the former being the Italian-West German-French co-production that is often criticised as too generic and the latter as a the Italian-French co-production where the absence of a West German krimi input seems to have resulted in a more challenging and idiosyncratic film.

Double dipping

A question: have you heard of the term 'double dipping' and, if so, where did you hear it and what do you understand it to mean?