Saturday, 12 June 2010

Paradiso Blu

After their plane goes down in bad weather, survivors Karen (Anna Bergman) and Peter (Dan Monahan) manage to make it to an isolated island. Another plane flies overhead, indicating that there is at least the prospect of rescue, but fails to spot them. Accordingly the two build a shelter and attempt to settle in to their new situation.

How did we get here?

Chris Taylor (John Richardson) comes to the island by boat and stays with them a while.

Following his departure a group of natives land on the island to conduct a voodoo ceremony. Peter manages to scare them off and save Inez (Lucia Ramirez) from apparent sacrifice.

Ramirez and Bergman

This is something of an oddity from producer-director-cinematographer Aristide Massaccessi / Joe D'Amato. Given its setting, voodoo references and the presence of Ramirez, it would be of a piece with the likes of Erotic Nights of the Living Dead and Black Sex were it not for the fact that the sex and horror elements that were their stock in trade are downplayed in favour of Blue Lagoon meets Swept Away styled drama.

A grizzled looking Richardson

While the results again demonstrate D'Amato's adaptability and occasional willingness to try his hand at making a 'proper', less exploitative film, they are not the most interesting to watch, with a distinct lack of dramatic, sexual, class or any other sort of tension throughout.

The appearances of Chris and then Inez certainly threaten to alter the dynamics between Karen and Peter, but nothing really happens. (Lost anyone?)

D'Amato's direction is flat with the more self-conscious moments – slow motion as Karen and Peter embrace, some sudden zooms – decidedly awkward.

This is partly because these moments don't built into memorable set-pieces. This is perhaps most evident in the plane crash sequence, as D'Amato unexpectedly cuts from the build up within the plane to the aftermath. Clearly there wasn't the budget or inclination even for some unconvincing model work.

But the avoidance of the supernatural means we don't get anything like the well-executed statue turning into a cat match cut of Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, the avoidance of more explicit nudity and sex means comparable to Ramirez's popping a champagne bottle using her vaginal muscles.

In the end one gets the sense that D'Amato recognised that the film didn't have much going for it when he encouraged Bergman to put her name to it as director in the hope that it might gain something from association with her more famous father, Ingmar.

I suppose this gives us a nice shock answer if ever asked to name a favourite Bergman film ;-)

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