IN THE FOLDS OF THE FLESH (1970) – The Dungeon Review!
In The Folds Of The Flesh was readily available to buy online but finding a video store in these parts that had it available for rent was a relatively difficult task. I mention this only because this was a suggestion/recommendation from March 30th that I am just now getting to! In The Folds Of The Flesh is a little oddity from the 70’s that is certainly not your average Italian thriller. In fact, it is more of a delightfully demented, R-Rated soap opera. It has one of the most convoluted plots I’ve come upon that explores among other topics, incest, insanity and murder and as if that’s not enough they throw in some World War 2 Nazi flashbacks!
In The Folds Of The Flesh opens with the following quote:
“…and then a sudden shock that left a deep impression on the mind and damaged it permanently.”
We then see a woman wrapping up the dead body of a man as her children watch. A short time later a convict fleeing the police ends up on the woman’s property. The convict spies a getaway boat but not before he sees the woman start it and push the empty vessel adrift. He later sees her filling in an impromptu grave on her property, but the convict is soon captured and taken away in handcuffs. We then get a Freud quote on a lovely psychedelic background:
“What has been remains imbedded in the brain, nestled in the folds of the flesh distorted it conditions and subconsciously impels…” (Freud)
We skip several years ahead (13 I think). The kids are grown up and still living with their mother Lucille on the property. Colin is Lucille’s son and Falesse is the daughter of her husband Andre who is believed to have been lost at sea. Throughout the film, a series of lecherous male visitors drop by the estate unexpected. Falesse is sexually attracted to every man she meets. Unfortunately for the male visitors, every man she meets turns up dead. Falesse, you see is quite crazy. She goes into a strange trance when she is engaged in sexual contact. Well, sexual contact with everyone except her step-brother it would seem. We are given clues in the form of flashbacks that suggest there could be a reason for her insanity but we really don’t learn the full extent of it until the end of the film. This is not a paint by numbers thriller by any means. We see each of the visitors killed and we know who did it and why. Every kill is committed by the dysfunctional family for the purpose of covering up an ugly secret. The real mystery is what exactly the ugly secret is.
To say this family is dysfunctional is probably a serious understatement. The family seemed separated from the rest of the world. Hiding away in their castle-like home on their massive property where they keep caged vultures as pets. It appears the trio doesn’t get out much and each one seems a little “off”. Lucille is a severe woman who other than the occasional sly grin almost never smiles. The woman is so icy it is hard to tell if she actually has any concern for her disturbed grown children. When she’s not disposing of bodies or having concentration camp flashbacks she spends much of the film pulling the adopted sister and brother apart. Colin fancies himself an artist and has the most disturbing and distracting wardrobe that made me laugh often. He acts like a spoiled child and has regular hissy fits, particularly where Falesse is concerned. Then we have Falesse who sports a bad, obvious looking blond wig and her big staring doe-eye’s are both attentive and vacant all at the same time. When she isn’t having sex with her step-bro she is flirting voraciously with any man that crosses her path. The male visitors throughout the film sure are unlikable. Every man who walks into the house is more lecherous than the last and can’t keep their hands off of Falesse. Falesse drinks up the attention but it is clear the woman is off balance! I almost couldn’t help but root for the whacked-out family! There are a few other note-worthy characters I’d like to mention, but doing so would be a major spoiler.
In The Folds Of The Flesh has numerous twists and turns and a most rewarding reveal! The pace is a bit slow at times but the abundance of peculiarities onscreen kept me hypnotized. It’s quite a nice looking film and the location is excellent. Sergio Bergonzelli uses some creative camera work particularly during the various flashback sequences. The Nazi shower scene is one of the stranger elements of the film. Lucille suggests they kill one of the characters with cyanide. She explains to her son how it works by recalling her internment in a concentration camp as a girl. Lucille’s flashback is filmed in black and white. The young Lucille watches as all the female members of her family are killed in the showers. It is another part of the puzzle that helps explain the depth of insanity in the strange family unit. And then again, maybe Bergonzelli added the scene so they could include more nudity. It is just too risky burying bodies in the yard so they begin melting them in acid. It is quite the scene seeing mother and son working together over a tub with gloved hands. There is a fake head here and there to gawk at, but not a whole lot more in the way of special effects. The violence in the film isn’t really graphic and the deaths are quick, but they are nonetheless effective.
If you enjoy Giallo that doesn’t follow the rules and has plenty of melodrama, crazy plot twists, and eccentric characters then In The Folds Of The Flesh is a must see! Highly recommended!
Dungeon Rating: 4/5
Directed By: Sergio Bergonzelli
Starring: Eleonora Rossi Drago, Pier Angeli, Fernando Sancho, Alfredo Mayo, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, María Rosa Sclauzero, Víctor Alcázar, Giancarlo Sisti, Gaetano Imbró, Luciano Catenacci, Bruno Ciangola