Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Murder Rock"(1983)d/Lucio Fulci

Looks like we're open for biz once again here at the Wop, meine kleinen metzgerjaghunde.The only thing we're guilty of is serving up genre just the way you like it.Lots of arterial spray, bountiful bra-busting bobblers, and jocose jovialities as you're only ever gonna get from ol' B.W.Daddy's home, kiddies, and of course I brought you something...
My introduction to this slasher/giallo hybrid came in the mid-eighties when an unscrupulous company that will remain nameless(if you were around back then, one good guess oughta do it) sent me a bootleg VHS of it as a surrogate for a movie I had actually ordered that they had no business advertising.As much as I loved Lucio Fulci back then, the sight of leg warmers and breakdancing when I hit play really pissed me off for some reason.I ejected the tape about ten minutes in, and hurled the sucker across the room.This was the last of a couple of botched orders they'd ever ship me, although I was more incensed over what I saw on the television screen than anything.What was Fulci thinking?
As I grew older, of course, I gained respect and fondness for the effort, showcasing the acting chops of cult regulars from Olga "twelve inch wooden splinter" Karlatos and Christian "David Hess once used me as a Wing Chun dummy" Borromeo, to the familiar faces of Ray Lovelock and Geretta squared.Be forewarned, the maestro takes the high road here, sacrificing sleazy black-gloved splatter over a gripping Frizzi score for psychological homicide of prancing terpsichoreans in leg warmers to electronic disco from Keith Emerson, though if you're a Fulci enthusiast, there's plenty of his cinematic fingerprint on tonight's review for you, rest assured.
Damsels desperately writhing about on the floor in sweat-drenched skin-tight lycra? Yet another one of my favorite things.
Candice Norman (Olga Karlatos) runs demanding auditions for an obnoxiously narcissist dance troupe at the prestigious New York Academy of Dance when a psycho-killer(Qu'est-ce que c'est, fa fa fa fa fa fa fa ...) removes talented frontrunner Susan (Angela Lemmerman) in the facility rainbox, using a big golden bitch of a hatpin, thrust thusly into her unsheathed sweater cannon.Meanwhile, the brusque Lieutenant Borges(Cosimo Cinieri) and his analytical associate Professor Davies (Giuseppe Mannajuolo) reconnoiter the crime scene, but lack the expertise to stop the sequential murders that will most certainly follow.To further complicate matters, Candice is also recurringly haunted by somnambulistic visions of being pursued then killed by a mysterious hatpin-wielding maniac.She does some investigation of her own, finding that her dream subject's conscious equivalent is a model/actor on the downslide named George Webb(Ray Lovelock).Naturally, she makes the logical decision to start having sex with the guy(!).Next, Janice(Carla Buzzanca) is erased from the competition after wetly flailing around on the floor in a revealing leotard to a receptive crowd(think Flashdance meets epilepsy), yet being thoroughly impotent in avoiding the chloroform rag that awaits her in the showers.Borges dismisses the school as "full of sons of bitches", and after surmising that the killer must hate dancers, offers the following slice of personal philosophy:"He has my heartfelt approval".Yeeeoww.Somebody get turned down for an Italian production of "CATS" or something?Lay back, Holmes.
I get off on pierced titties myself, but this is ridonkulous.
Sleazy characters take the spotlight, only to be upstaged by even sleazier ones.Voice recordings of the alleged killer's threatening phone calls are taken to an analyst(Al Cliver), but all they implicate is a lispy male dancer in the troupe playing sassy games of bedevilment with his female competitors, and after some spirited slap-around backhanders from Borges, he proclaims," I don't like spics!" Borges grumpily sends him off to the tombs, before retreating to his sunflower seeds.Then there's Dick Gibson(Claudio Cassinelli), the suspicious four-eyed studio director, and Willy(Christian Borromeo), creepy boyfriend to one of the dancers, and try wheelchair-bound young ginger she-creep, Molly(Silvia Collatina), who obsesses over photographic insects and their brutal habits, and snaps pictures of her own babysitter getting put down with chilling aplomb, for size.Gloria(Belinda Busato), the last dancer still breathing to audition for the big part, gets slagged off by Jill's distraught boyfriend, Bob in the locker room("A bunch of no good, filthy whores!And that goes for the pimps you dance with!"), before her own boob is run through by the signature hatpin as the timed lights flash on and off.Candice finally relates her sordid nightmare involving her lover to Borges, leading to her emotional, eye bugging breakdown after discovering Gloria's lifeless form at the studio, and a worthy, satisfying climax(although slightly derivative of one of the maestro's earlier works) that you'll have to check out for yourselves.That's it!
"Using a fiber optic probe could damage the Levator veli palatini, that's not a cool muscle to hit.", remarks voice analyst Al Cliver.
After taking a critical battering over "New York Ripper" a year earlier and a split with his creative team of Sacchetti, Salvati, and De Rossi, who he'd enjoyed great success with, an unshackled Fulci uses great production values and a trademark venemous screenplay(women, dancers-in-general, art, take your pick, they all get roasted here)to weave a memorable giallo that doesn't rely upon the red stuff as a crutch.Wakeman's synth pop score still grates on my last nerve(and I dig eighties pop as much as the next guy, really), but I appreciate the effort now as I never had before.Having a cantankerous Fulci tackling subject matter as vibrant and alive as the art of dance is alone, worth the price of admission.The Shriek Show special edition double disc deserves a spot in your collections.Three wops.Recommended.
Candice(Olga Karlatos)has a penchant for leaving calamity under-feigned...in opposite land, mebbe.

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