Amuck! (1972)

Amuck! is a great title, but this is a movie that has a ton of great other titles –Alla ricerca del piacere (In Pursuit of Pleasure), Maniac MansionLeather and Whips and Hot Bed of Sex were also used and the working titles were Replica de un delitto (Repetition of a Crime) and Il passo dell’assassino(Footsteps of the Killer). No matter what name you give it, this is one dark little film.

Greta (Barbara Bouchet, who next to Edwige Fenech could be considered the queen of the giallo thanks to turns in Don’t Torture a Duckling and The Red Queen Kills Seven Times ) is an American abroad, working as the secretary to Richard Stuart (Farley Granger, So Sweet, So Dead and What Have They Done to Your Daughters?).

Along with his wife Eleanora (Rosalba Neri, Lady Frankenstein), the writer lives in comfort on his own island. Their past secretary, Sally, disappeared without a trace. However, Richard and Eleanora don’t know Greta’s reason for joining them — the missing girl was her lover, a fact we find out via a flashback lovemaking scene that is artful, if stilted, awkward and the way that men would assume women would couple (staring at one another and attempting to kiss, then going to sleep). Indeed, it feels like the fever addled wet dream of a maniac, which pretty much sums up what giallo can be at times.

The more Greta gets close, the more sex, drugs and violence is unearthed. The Stuarts often hold sex parties in their palatial home. Oh yeah — Eleanora has ESP, seeing Great’s death, screaming about it while in a fit of prophecy.

Indeed, death begins to follow our heroine. The next day, a hunting trip turns into a brush with quicksand, that most evil of all movie doom.

Richard reveals that Eleanora fascinates him because of her duplicitous nature and he is falling is love with Greta because of how honest she is. He then reveals the accident that claimed Sally’s life in a flashback: Eleanora watches Rocco through her hunting scope before inviting him to a rendervous with her and Sally. They both dance for him in a series of druggy jump cuts — perhaps the film’s most assured scene. After making love to Eleanora, the fisherman kisses Sally tenderly before losing control, which is show by how the film speeds up, like the Keystone Kops. He ends up choking Sally to death while Eleanora watches, powerless to stop him.

Richard and Greta end up making love later that night during a storm. Eleanora watches through the doorway before looking directly at the camera, as if she is sad yet not surprised.

The very next evening, after Richard leaves town, Eleanora sets up the same threeway with Rocco (who she calls the perfect male, yet he seems like a leering idiot). Greta tries to leave, only to find the dead body of the butler in the hallway. Richard shows up, telling her that this has all been a game. They’ve found Sally’s body and now, they need to get rid of her. He tells her that it’s all over now and she must die, describing how Rocco will murder her in calm tones.

However, Rocco remembers an act of kindness that Greta had performed for him. Eleanora attacks him, slapping the shit out of him before he tosses her into a wall, killing her, and stabbing Richard.

Greta leaves, learning that Rocco is getting the help he needs. Yet the film ends on a weird note, as a policeman tells Greta that the woman in the lagoon wasn’t even Sally. FIN.

Director Silvio Amadio crafts a film that takes some time to get going and has flashes of mood, but may not rank amongst the best in giallo. That said, he has an attractive cast to work with, an interesting story and there’s a well shot sequence of a boatman taking a dead body down a river that aspires to art.

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