FULCI WEEK: Sodoma’s Ghost (1988)

There’s a scene in A Cat in the Brain where Fulci directs a Nazi orgy like a deranged madman. The results are what opens Sodoma’s Ghost, as a group of Nazi deserters and prostitutes are at play while Willy films the proceedings. Everyone dances to strange jazz music and claps their hands while watching films of the war, then the bombs fall. When you combine this intriguing beginning with a great movie poster, you can see why I picked Sodoma’s Ghost for a 3:25 AM viewing.

Years later, six American students — Mark, Paul, John, Anne, Celine and Maria — are traveling to Paris when they find the house we just saw in the opening. It’s abandoned but fully furnished, and by fully furnished, I mean it’s packed with all sorts of pornography on the walls. And oh yeah. It’s also duly appointed with Nazi ghosts.

Also, there is a flea market here, the Rossi Pop Up Market, that used to be a movie theater. You walk from theater to theater, some of which are turned into stores and some of which I am certain are now places where hoarders live during the week. This Nazi house looks like one of those theaters, with the seats all ripped out and a man in rags ready to surprise you as you search for old DVDs and only find his collection of old bags of Wonder Bread and stacks of old copies of Grit.

Is it politically correct of me to say that I would like to think that sex-crazed Nazis would have had better taste in decoration than this?

Also: It’s 21 minutes into a Fulci film and no one has lost their eye yet.

That night, Anne sleeps alone in a room when the ghost of Willy returns and slaps her around, bloodying her lip. He then licks the blood off and they have the most awkward kiss ever while the worst background music ever created plays and she bleeds all over the place. Evil Nazi ghost Willy is also a worse kisser than Randy West. He makes her confess that she loves it. She then wakes up all alone again, as it was all just a dream.

Every time the kids try to leave, they get stuck. The roads all lead back to the house. The car breaks down. The police station answers with evil voices. The phones are cut. And then they’re locked in the house. As cabin fever sets in, Maria starts to lose her mind.

Mark, drunk and wandering, finds some Nazis playing cards. He joins them only to play Russian roulette for Willy, which he survives and is rewarded with a prostitute. As he starts to touch her, his hands go right through her body and he’s covered with blood. He runs away and sees Paul as a Nazi, then tumbled down the steps to his death.

Maria then is seduced by a prostitute — who is also a ghost — who tries to turn her against her girlfriend Anne, who she claims is cheating with Celine. Speaking of Anne, a possessed version of her tries to get with Paul before turning into a corpse. Sex hijinks amongst friends was never this gory. Or ridiculous.

Paul and John find the film of the Nazis as Mark’s corpse begins to rot. They play the film and just as the ghosts arrive, the bomb drops again and the screen goes to black.

When everyone wakes up, Mark is back alive and it’s all a dream. The teenagers finally drive away, safe from the Nazi menace.

This movie just makes me sad. Anyone but Fulci could have directed it — it’s free from the trademark verve and spark of mania that he brought to films where you expected nothing, like Conquest. It’s rote and boring, with it’s running time feeling way too long. Honestly — any movie packed with Nazi ghosts, sex and violent death should be way more exciting than this.

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