The Fox with the Velvet Tail (1971)

Whether you call it In the Eye of the Hurricane, Lusty Lover or Suspicion, this film starts with plenty of style and 70’s morality.

Ruth and Paul are a new couple, but Ruth is still married to Michael, who thinks their trial separation will get them back on the same page. Ruth obviously has no interest in that — she instantly runs away with Paul to a seductive Mediterranean beach.

Their love is shot in crazy colors, upside down kisses, swans in the hot tub being given as gifts, discotheques for two, making pottery together, a stone swan filled with caviar and champagne…yeah, Ruth isn’t going back home.

This is a film of bad memories, strange moments of a new relationship, not getting introduced to people and it feeling weird, swirling camera shots around a dancing couple ala DePalma’s Body Double (but 13 years early), bearskin rugs in front of the fire (it is 1971) and suspicion.

Soon, Ruth is involved in a couple of accidents; her brakes fail while driving and her oxygen tank runs out while diving for an octopus (while Paul drinks wine on the boat with his dog and pours wine all over the coral!). Ruth gets paranoid and believes that Paul may be trying to kill her. Or is it his war buddy Roland, who seems to care about Paul a little too much (and the dude has scars from a lion on his chest!)?

Oh yeah — Paul even goes underwater to get her some coral, where we reveal Danielle, a redhead who is a rival for Paul’s affections. And Michael, Ruth’s husband, comes back to visit.

Oh hey! There’s Paul and Roland, just randomly shooting things in the yard. Nothing strange there! There’s a great ending where Michael challenges Paul to show him how good he is. He holds up a magazine as the camera goes from the model’s face to his to Ruth’s. A shot rings out and it goes right between the model’s eyes…and the hole reveals Ruth! What a great shot!

Oh wait — Paul, Michael and Danielle are all in it together, as they are working together to kill Ruth, who tearfully listens to their plans. Ruth runs back to the house, debating calling the police, before deciding on grabbing a gun. From there on out, it’s all big zooms in on the eyes and ominous music!

Ruth writes a note to Paul that says that she knows he is coming back to kill her and she won’t stop him. He was the man she was looking for all her life and she put all of her faith, trust and love into him. He represented her whole being, but now, she knows why he approached her. She never imagined anyone could be capable of such hatred and it all makes her exhausted. Now, she feels that she has to pay the price for her mistakes, as she has lost all of her faith and willpower. She sees this act as suicide and begs him to hurry.

What follows is a selection of quick cuts — a black gloved hand with a gun, swans, red faces, worried faces and then Paul appears behind her, telling her that he was going to curl up with her. A phone call breaks the silence and the police call to say that Michael has been killed.

But wait — does Ruth have a plan of her own? The dog has died and the ice cubes she made earlier are the culprit. Paul moves Danielle into their home and they begin bullying her, trying to make her confess to the fact that she murdered Michael to protect Paul. They even force themselves on her in bed in a scene that’s shot more like a horror film than a romance. Ruth just lies here, mouth wide open in terror, trying to fight them off. She finally runs and hides in a corner before her ex-husband and his new love consummate their relationship.

Ruth calls the police, who come with the news that Michael was killed with a chemical from Ruth’s pottery supplies that she had just asked Paul to get for her. She set everyone else up to survive and walks down the beach with Michael’s friend Roland as the film closes.

I’ve read that this film steals a lot from Umberto Lenzi’s Orgasmo and A Quiet Place to Kill, which I need to find and watch. That said — there are some moments of interest here and once you get past the slow opening, it all gets rather exciting. If you’re looking for a copy for yourself, Mondo Macabro has released a new DVD that’s available right here.

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