Archive for ida galli

THE CASE OF THE SCORPIONS TAIL (1971) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by goregirl

I’ve mentioned many times on this blog how much I love the films of the 1970’s. That is why I am completely mystified as to how I could have overlooked the films of Sergio Martino. ‘The Case of The Scorpion’s Tail’ is the second Martino directed film I’ve reviewed during Italian horror month and is another outstanding example of the mans work.

Lisa Baumer wastes no time cashing in her husbands million-dollar insurance policy after he dies in a plane accident. Insurance agent Peter Lynch is sent to investigate the case. Bodies begin piling up and the million-dollar bootie goes missing. Ambitious reporter Cleo Dupont hooks up with Peter and together they try to solve the puzzle.

The film opens with a couple having sex; during which we are shown flashes of an airplane flying and then exploding in mid-air. I found it really entertaining that the first piece of the puzzle does double duty as a visual for an orgasm. The airplane shots were created using a model airplane on a string and that’s exactly what it looked like. It was so damn cheesy I couldn’t help but be charmed. ‘The Case of The Scorpions Tale’ has a deliciously convoluted plot full of red herrings, violence and numerous suspects with twists and turns that keep you guessing. You are well rewarded with a dramatic reveal and an excellent chase sequence. The chase really is superb but Martino cuts it short in a rather blunt manner. It’s a minor detail but I would have liked to see this scene extended. A great plot is complimented by stylish and inventive photography, fantastic set pieces, and beautiful outdoor scenery. It is all set to an excellent score from Bruno Nicolai. Topping it all off are top-notch performances from Martino regulars Anita Strindberg and George Hilton. The two actors have amazing chemistry together. The stunning strindberg is perfect as the intelligent and confident reporter Cleo Dupont. Hilton is excellent playing charming insurance man Peter Lynch.

There’s a decent body count, a bit of the red stuff and some beautifully staged kills. My favourite was a woman whose throat is cut as she is approaching a sliding glass door. The blood sprays all over the door, she falls forward and her face meets glass. Martino shows this from the other side of the door so we can see her face squished against the bloody glass surface contorting as it slides slowly down. This is accompanied by the squeaking sound you hear when you wash your windows. Great stuff! Although ‘Case of the Scorpion’s Tail’ certainly wouldn’t qualify as gory, its scenes of violence are very effective.

‘Case Of The Scorpion’s Tail’ is an amazing film with all the classic Giallo elements served up with flare and style by one of my new favourite masters of the genre. I’m thinking the Sergio Martino Collection might be a DVD box set worth owning. The NO SHAME dvd I rented had a nifty short documentary on the making of the film featuring director Sergio Martino, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi and actor George Hilton, not to mention a flawless transfer of the film. Pure 70’s Giallo gold! Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Sergio Martino

Starring: George Hilton, Anita Strindberg, Alberto de Mendoza, Ida Galli, Janine Reynaud, Luigi Pistilli, Tom Felleghy, Luis Barboo

THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2010 by goregirl

It was so long ago; I had almost completely forgotten it was actually my mom who introduced me to Mario Bava! My mom is not a horror fan by any means, but she recalled seeing ‘Blood and Black Lace’ as a teenager, and it completely rocked her world. I have to admit, having seen ‘BABL’ in my teen years; it struck me as somewhat interesting, but far too tame. Sadly, it wasn’t until I became an adult that I began to appreciate older horror films. I still have so many to discover, including some classic standards like ‘Frankenstein’. (I know! Shame on me!) But I have gotten to know Mr. Bava pretty well over the last few years. ‘The Whip and The Body’ is one of the few Bava films I had not seen, and it most definitely did not disappoint.

‘The Whip and The Body’ is part gothic horror tale and part sadomasochist love story. Christopher Lee plays Kurt Menliff who has returned home to the family estate after several years away. He does not receive a warm welcome from his family, or the servants who hold Kurt responsible for a young woman’s suicide. He claims to have returned to congratulate his brother on his recent marriage to the beautiful Nevenka, with whom he once had a relationship. But old flames still burn between the two and the dark secret they share is explored once more. Her passion overwhelms her and she gives in to the pleasures of pain. Later that evening Kurt is found with a dagger plunged into his neck. Soon after the funeral, Kurt returns from the grave, appearing only to Nevenka. Clearly Nevenka is afraid but is also excited by the apparition of Kurt. What unfolds is deliciously diabolical, erotic violence presented with a gothic grandness aptly titled ‘The Whip and The Body’.

‘The Whip and The Body’ must have been considered pretty racy in its day. I knew what the film was about but I expected more subtle hints than graphic displays. The first intimate scene between Kurt and Nevenka occurs early in the film when he finds Nevenka alone on the beach. He whips her repeatedly as she cries out in ecstasy and the two then engage in sex. You see the whipping up close and personal but the sex is off camera. Nevenka is clearly torn between her morality and her passion and every scene is a struggle between the two. Her lust is animalistic and the stunning Daliah Lavi plays it like a storm is brewing between her legs that she cannot control. Her orgasms are practically a character themselves! Christopher Lee is cold as ice as her brutal lover. Although he appears both vicious and callous, his character at times comes off slightly romantic and tragic. Lee and Lavi both have a strong presence and give outstanding performances.

There is plenty to admire about Mario Bava’s Gothic Masterpiece. There is breath-taking scenery, incredible atmosphere, awesome sets, a haunting and effective score and the aforementioned excellent performances. But more than anything else it is strikingly beautiful. I greatly admire Bava’s cinematography but not being a technically minded sort, you’ll have to forgive me for my layman language. Simply put, nothing looks quite like a Bava film! Shadows and colour are overwhelmingly present in all his films although this one may be slightly more muted than others it is nonetheless a sensual kaleidoscope. It truly is an enthralling visual experience! I could probably go on for several paragraphs in detail about the visuals but a Bava film is something that really should be experienced first hand.

The only real issues I had with the film was its first act where we are introduced to several characters is far too vague. This section of the film seemed somewhat repressed for a Bava flick and looked and felt almost typical for a gothic themed film from the era. It’s quite brief though, and things get considerably more lively and focused after Kurt and Nenenka’s tryst on the beach. Also the DVD was available with both English and Italian language soundtracks, but sadly neither featured Lee’s actual voice. That is a crying shame, because Lee has a fantastic voice!

Mario Bava’s ‘The Whip and The Body’ is immensely entertaining! It is a hypnotic and haunting vision that should be a treat for Bava’s fans or just about anybody who enjoys Gothic Horror. You can definitely expect more Bava reviews during Italian Horror Month! Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4.5/5

Directed By: Mario Bava

Starring: Daliah Lavi, Christopher Lee, Tony Kendall, Ida Galli, Harriet Medin, Gustavo De Nardo, Luciano Pigozzi, Jacques Herlin