After the death of their wealthy patriarch, the assorted members of a family assemble at an isolated hotel to wait for the funeral, the reading of the will, and the division of the estate.
With nothing to do but wait, those assembled seek to distract themselves as they know how: Having sex, arguing, fighting, playing practical jokes, or just drinking (J&B, naturally).
An emblematic image: tired, weary, bored
There is also the first indication that this is indeed a giallo, when one of the few servants in the hotel is seen on the phone, announcing that she knows the patriarch did not die in a road accident but was murdered, and that she also knows the identity of the killer.
What we don’t get, however, is a murder scene – or at least not for a while. Instead we get lesbians in the bath and heterosexual no-becomes-yes rape-becomes-consensual sex scenes.
Finally, after one particularly heavy night of debauchery – we are now more than half way through the 80-odd minutes running time – one of the family is found dead, clearly murdered.
The police are called. While they take the dead woman’s body away they do not begin an investigation, instead leaving those present to sort things out for themselves. A couple more murders result and the guilty party is outed. The end.
Delitto Carnale / Killing of the Flesh marks the end in more ways than one, being the last film from writer-director Cesare Canevari and the last film to star Marc Porel, who died the same year as it was released, 1983.
Canevari has an interesting filmography which includes the spaghetti western on acid Matalo!, the first Italian Emmanuelle film, Io Emmanuelle, and the self-explanatory Last Orgy of the Third Reich.
In fact, however, that should be seemingly self-explanatory. Last Orgy of the Third Reich has certain serious and artistic pretensions in the Night Porter, Salon Kitty or Salo mould. There’s the hint its not just being unpleasant for the sake of it, in that ‘how much of this can you take?’ way, but also asking about why you are ‘taking this’ in the first place.
In its own way Delitto Carnale is similar: How much ennui and boredom can you put up with and why? Do these composition and camera movements – and there are some pleasing and effective ones, including the discovery of the body and sequences in cobweb-filled storerooms and the patriarch’s modernist apartment – constitute sufficient reason for watching? Is it ‘for real’ or a parody in which everything is ironicised, distanced, estranged, ‘in quotes’? Just how critical is its vision of sex and dying in high society?
There’s no definitive answer, of course. And, as always, this is its source of strength, weakness, frustration and interest as a piece of Euro-trash. In this regard, it’s perhaps telling that the film was released in various different cuts, some inserting hardcore material for the raincoater crowd: If all else fails, you can always try to sneak something subversive in via the lowest-common-denominator sex film.
Recommended to those who have seen and can appreciate (read: see something in) the likes of Play Motel, The Curse of Ursula (for a Porel / Magniolfi giallo trash double bill) and Giallo a Venezia; it’s also recommended that you take a shower afterwards...
Thanks to the good people at Cinemageddon for making the film available and fan-subbing it.