Ombre roventi (1970)

Hot Shadow would be the word for word translation of this movie but it played elsewhere as Shadow of Illusion and it presents to us a world where hippies are murderous maniacs, as the post-Manson world would give license to giallo creators to posit the love generation as those who come at you with knives.

Director Mario Caiano hit nearly every genre of the Italian industry, from peplum (Ulysses Against the Son of Hercules, Medusa Against the Son of Hercules) and horror (Nightmare Castle) to westerns (A Coffin for the SheriffRingo the Lone Rider), poliziottesco (The Criminals Attack…The Police Respond!Weapons of Death), Naziploitation (Nazi Love Camp 27 AKA Swastika on the Belly) and even the incredible western/eastern mashup that is The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe.

So of course, he made a giallo. Actually, he made two, as in 1972 he made Eye in the Labyrinth.

Years later, Caiano would share that this was a strange production as he never saw the money people before or since. He also never saw the movie after the rough cut. He was promised a name actor who never showed up, but when they got to Egypt, William Berger was already there making another movie and agreed to be in this. Because the movie needed actors, Berger’s daughter and his wife Carol Lobravico also joined up.

Whomever the original lead actress was*, she quit on the first day of shooting, so Daniela Giordano (Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the KeyFour Times That NightReflections In Black, Paul Naschy’s Inquisition) stepped in.

To make things even wilder, this was shot in Egypt during the War of Attrition, so the cast and crew had to be surrounded by soldiers who would turn of the lights in case of air raids.

Gordiano plays Gail Bland, a fashion model who has been brought to Egypt to appear in a cosmetics ad, but it turns out that she’s the reincarnation of Isis and a hard-partying cult of drug-loving hippies want to sacrifice her. And then she’s romanced by the enigmatic Caleb (Berger).

This has a glacial pace in moments but the ending makes up for it. Actually, this is the kind of giallo I love most, one that places you into a strange world of drugs, mystery, strange gods and sleaze. This really deserves a cleaned-up blu ray release so that more people can recognize it, as it fits in well with giallo like All the Colors of the Dark.

*According to Caiano, it was Luciana Paluzzi (A Black Veil for Lisa99 WomenThe Green SlimeThunderball) while Giordano insisted that the actress was Gianna Serra (Our Man Flint).

You can watch this on YouTube.

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