Friday, April 6, 2012

"La settima donna"(1978)d/Franco Prosperi

We'll continue not being very nice to women tonight, with a Last House on the Left clone from Franco Prosperi, but not the Prosperi that's known as half of the Italian dynamic documentary duo responsible for mondo hits like Mondo Cane(1964), Africa addio(1966), and Addio Zio Tom(1976), to be sure.To flesh out this Mediterranean rape/revenge rip-off, known outside of Italy as 'Last House on the Beach', Prosperi dresses center stage with able Euro-genre vets Ray Lovelock, who also croons "Place for the Landing" on the Roberto Pregadio soundtrack and provides his own English dub, and Flavia, her heretical self, Florinda Bolkan, revisiting a nun's habit here for some admittedly pretty sleazy goings-on, though most of today's jaded genre crowd will probably find 'Beach' too deficient in the blood, sex, and nudity categories to enjoy it very much.With those desensitized rascals out of earshot, I can promulgate the director's choice, instead, to focus his lens on the horrified expressions of the victims' faces rather than the potential grue, unlike so many of his countrymen of the day in the trade, but with mixed effectiveness; one rape victim looks less violated than dumbfounded during her ordeal, and even the most brutal, humiliating act in the film plays out like a Looney Tune on Phencyclidine.Much of the distress of the deplorable deeds that transpire in this one is rendered flaccid by the anonymity of many of the young girls' characters, who deliver no real dialogue, have no discernible idiosyncracies, and huddle defenselessly waiting for the next atrocity to happen to them.Still, there's enough of what makes exploitation flicks from the boot so damned enjoyable present here to merit a look-see, with shots of lush outdoor scenery juxtaposed with obligatory seventies soundtrack of happenin' porno-esque disco music and expectedly humorous ADR dubbing on the English track(“Why, you dirty bitch! You think we’re just kidding?!”, "This one's a 100 percent virgin!" etc., etc.).The film, long unavailable in North America, has since been presented uncut on disc by those fine folks at Severin.
We'll return to "When Reiki Gets Serious" right after these words from our sponsors...
A gang of three faceless Italian goons show a propensity for senseless violence during a bank robbery, when one of the men ices a teller for the hell of it before their getaway Citroen forces them to detour their escape to a large villa on a desolate beach that's occupied by a young nun named Sister Cristina(Florinda Bolkan), who just happens to be chaperoning five religious schoolgirls as they rehearse A Midsummer Night's Dream for an upcoming Shakespeare festival, decked out in fanciful papier mâché animal head masks.Ignoring all standard guest protocol, Walter(Flavio Andreini) proceeds to bash the villa maid's dome in with a household iron(!) while Nino(Stefano Cedrati) attacks Eliza(Sherry Buchanan) and gets shanked in the thigh with a sharp comb, for his inappropriate carnality.Forced to occupy the cottage until Nino's leg heals appropriately, the boy band-esque outlaws turn to the occupants of the fairer sex(who don't let criminal pervert kidnappers stop them from breaking a bobbler out at any juncture, mind you) for their misogynistic amusement.First, they force the girls to sunbathe topless at gunpoint with groping and ogling thrown in, free of charge, then making them watch a girl shake her groove thang around while naked on television.After some spirited verbal humiliation, the robbers discover Cristina's religious background, forcing her to strip down("You'd never guess you have such nice curves under those rags!"), before dressing her in a traditional habit, which naturally serves as a catalyst for much emotional malaise and physical manhandling at knifepoint, to the seeming dismay of good samaritan-slash-criminal, Aldo(Ray Lovelock).Why, he's not nearly as awful a sociopathic rapist as his two accomplices, is he...
Tramp buys the farm in the deleted "I bet I could slash fifty throats" scene from Cool Hand Luke(1967).
Though Aldo isn't willing to punctuate what seems to be a mere job to him with rape-tastic extracurriculars, nor defend the helpess women to any major degree against his fellow captors, he does develop an unlikely repoire with Margaret(Luisa Maneri), explaining that he never entered the bank during the robbery, waiting in the getaway car all along, though, through flashbacks it's revealed that he's a big fat liar, instead, having actually fired on the teller's desks and killing the hostage himself during the standoff with security.Eventually, the thugs divulge the embarrassing secret to her girls that Cristina isn't as pure as she makes herself out to be, causing the girls to lose much of their trust in her, and when Nino and Walter double-team Lucia(Laura Trotter) while Aldo forces the young nun to bear witness, it's slo-mo, disco themed, gang rape gold, with numerous mugging facial close ups.After much sunbathing, lounging around, drinking wine, Nino reading Faulkner's Sanctuary(get it?), and many cartoonish backhanders later(this one's ripe with 'em), Walter responds to one of the girl's failed escape attempts by forcibly fingering her(!) then murdering her by repeatedly shoving a bulky walking stick into her gravy boat(!!).In the finale, Cristina is forced to choose between the cross of her religious beliefs, or the bloody vigilante justice necessary to protect the lives of her remaining students.Spoiler:She gives a begging Nino a lethal injection after his wound goes badly infected, shoots Walter, and after one of the girls buckshots up Aldo's labonza and he stubbornly clings to life, all the girls clobber him to death with sticks(!!!).
"Raised by MASTODONS?!!! Why I'll...", growled Bamm-Bamm Rubble.
This Prosperi, also known as Frank Shannon, has a considerably less impressive filmography than his more famous namesake-in-film, helming movies like Mondo cannibale(1980) aka/White Cannibal Queen, on which he shared the director's chair with none other then Jess Franco, sword n' sandal epic Ercole al centro della terra(1961), which he co-directed with Mario Bava himself, Tecnica di un omicidio(1966), and 1976's Pronto ad uccidere, another collaborative effort with Lovelock, who provides an excellent half hour interview on the Severin disc, shedding light on Italy's hipness with exotic, foreign-sounding names at the time, his experiences working with the director, and how perception over the film's gratuitous violence and overall mean-spiritedness has changed over the years.Bolkan made a name for herself in Italo-fare like 1970's Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto, Fulci's Una lucertola con la pelle di donna(1971) and Non si sevizia un paperino(1972), as well as La caduta degli dei(1969) for Luchino Visconti.Among the young victims here, are Sherry Buchanan, who appeared in things like Tentacoli(1977), and Zombi Holocaust(1980), and Laura Trotter, of Incubo sulla città contaminata(1980) fame.Two Wops on the scale for this mostly standard slice of sleazy Italian cash-in fare that you'll likely be disappointed by, if you're expecting something along the lines of L'ultimo treno della notte(1978) or La casa sperduta nel parco(1980).Hell, Tarantino himself must've really liked it, judging by the...ahem, 'homage' ending of Deathproof(2004).Subject yourselves to it, I tell you.
Rimuovere il mio bastone da passeggio fuori della tua fica, per favore.


Witchesmarkzine said...

Hi there,

We started a new fanzine and would really appreciate if you can add us on your bloglist. In the future days we will publish an interview with Fred Vogel (August Underground) as the first post. You blog is already added on our blogroll. Thanks!

beedubelhue said...

As Rocky Balboa would say to the prospect of getting punched repeatedly in the face, "Absolutely..."

Welcome aboard, folks!


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