Monday, October 5, 2015

31 Nights Of GIALLOWEEN: Spasmo (1974)


For tonight's GIALLOWEEN selection, we go back to Italy for an Umberto Lenzi classic!

No...not THAT classic. We'll come back to that one a little later. The classic that I'm talking about tonight is an often over-looked film of his...Spasmo. I've always been a fan of this one. It's one of those loose gialli that doesn't necessary spend too much time delving into the many different tropes of the genre...but, instead, delivers a pretty competent little thriller that works on its own merits. Still...the trailer for Spasmo  is something just short of genius. If ever there was a film on my list that I would recommend the trailer more than the film...it would be Spasmo.


We open on a nighttime beach where two lovers make their way to a remote part of the beach in which to bang. Unfortunately, their make-out session is interrupted by what appears to be a dead woman hanging on a noose behind them. It isn't until later when the authorities arrive that the "dead woman" is actually a life-like mannequin. Suddenly, we are introduced to a new couple and an unconscious Suzy Kendall on the beach during a lovely morning. Is it another mannequin? Or is this woman actually dead?? It is a jarring transition from the previous night's events...however, it is necessary to introduce Christian (played by the debonair Robert Hoffmann) and his second love interest Barbara (Kendall). I say second because the man basically just leaves the girl that he was with to pursue Barbara.

Anyway...I will say that there is more stuff going on in the film and would rather you find out for yourselves in which to not give away too much of the surprises. I will say that I absolutely love the fact that Barbara makes Christian shave off his beard before any kind of coital fun can be had. It is such a light-hearted moment and feels so oddly a part of this film that I forgive it for its randomness. As a matter of fact there's tons of great weirdness going on in this film that it makes it worth the watch...if just to be immersed into this strange universe filled with lingerie-clad mannequins and hilarious inept hit men.


All the performances are great for what is asked of them...but, I will say that whenever Ivan Rassimov shows up in an Italian film...all bets are off as far as who will be the greatest player in the movie because Ivan is that kind of actor. Often playing the sinister-looking character in most of the films he's in, Rassimov is mostly playing it straight here as Christian's brother Fritz. He seems more involved in making sure that his brother gets the help that he needs...because, well...he is a sort of odd fellow. As it turns out...Fritz may or may not be a bit odd, himself. I guess it runs in the family.

Honestly, unless you are completely comatose during your viewing of Spasmo, you should be able to see just about every twist coming from a hundred miles away. Once you pay attention to the odd behavior and blatancy of the dialogue, it gets easy to figure out who is who and what is what. Still...I really give Lenzi so much credit for his attempt to give us an honest-to-God thriller disguised as a giallo. Usually it is the other way around and filmmakers get too caught up in the trappings of the genre...thus delivering an incoherent but pretty-looking experience. At least this one makes sense and is fairly easy to follow.

I would certainly recommend Spasmo  for its excellent nightmarish Morricone soundtrack, as well as for being something a little different than expected. It is not your over-the-top giallo...but, rather a solid mystery with some gialli influences. Plus...Scorpion Releasing has an amazing version of the film finally available on Blu-ray.





Thanks for reading,

Peter Neal




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