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THE FIFTH CORD (1971) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by goregirl

In my search to add names to my Women and Men of Italian horror photo gallery I happened upon a few films I had never seen. I found ‘The Fifth Cord’ after adding Franco Nero. Since I had never seen a film directed by Luigi Bazzoni or one featuring the acting talents of Mr. Nero I figured it was a must see. ‘The Fifth Cord’ brings together all the things I love about 70’s Giallo and then puts a cherry on top.

On his way home from a party, John Lubbock is attacked by a man wielding a pipe. A couple making out nearby hear the commotion and come running and the attacker takes off leaving Lubbock alive. Andrea Bild is assigned by his publisher to investigate the story. As Bild digs deeper, the violence begins to escalate. Soon others who attended the same party as Lubbock start turning up dead, and Bild himself becomes a suspect. With each murder, a black glove with a finger missing is found near the body. Bild attempts playing detective while battling alcoholism and balancing a relationship with a new lover and another one from his past.

Sounds like a pretty typical Giallo setup, and admittedly this one does start out pretty much by the book. The panning of the camera over the party guest suggests we will see these folks again as both victims and important players in the story. The story itself offers up a convoluted plot with multiple suspects and a hardy helping of murder, sex, and a little bit of sleaze. But the presentation puts ‘The Fifth Cord’ into a category all its own. The film is stylishly shot, capturing weird angles that compliment the setting perfectly, fascinating views from the killers perspective or more subtle shots like a characters image reflected in sunglasses. These are all complimented by effective use of shadows and light and colouring that is bright and gaudy. The murder scenes in ‘The Fifth Cord’ really embrace the chase. These scenes build tension to the max drawing the scene out to the point of explosion and then ending it with a quick, clean kill. One particularly lengthy and intense scene sees the crippled Sophia Bini (played by Rossella Falk) desperately dragging herself around her home. This scene is shot from her perspective and we see her wincing and struggling as she attempts to pull her dead legs behind her. Although the victim’s deaths are mostly bloodless, they manage to be quite magnificent! A little bit of nudity and a touch of sleaze in the form of live sex shows and child pornography help spice things up. But what really spices things up is the ultra-macho Franco Nero who plays Andrea Bild.

The tough as nails Andrea Bild is a slaphappy boozer with a bad temper and an eye for the ladies. He sports a bushy 70’s moustache, loves his J&B and drives a Volkswagen Beetle. Bild needs no muscle car to prove he’s a man! The guy practically sweats bullets! He slaps one guy around so severely during questioning it leaves him red-faced and blubbering like a child. He isn’t afraid to slap his women around either! Nights of hard drinking and hard loving leave him looking intensely dishevelled. At times he looks like he might fall on his face and then he suddenly looks as though he could go completely psychotic. Franco Nero plays the character with strength and conviction but with enough eccentricity to really sell it. Andrea Bild may be one of my favourite macho Giallo characters of all time!

The films final balls to the wall climax is fantastic! Although I did find it a little disappointing the killers motivation is explained with a brief voiceover. ‘The Fifth Cord’ is a bit formulaic but Bazzoni brings so much more to the table. Impeccable pacing, beautiful and inventive cinematography, great performances (particularly from Nero), intensely suspenseful murder sequences, a great trashy soundtrack from Ennio Morricone and a wee bit of sex and sleaze make ‘The Fifth Cord’ an extremely satisfying and entertaining film. The Blue Underground version I rented had an interview with cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and actor Franco Nero and a trippy trailer for the film. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Luigi Bazzoni

Starring: Franco Nero, Silvia Monti, Wolfgang Preiss, Ira von Fürstenberg, Edmund Purdom, Rossella Falk, Renato Romano, Guido Alberti, Pamela Tiffin, Maurizio Bonuglia