Autopsy (1975): Armando Crispino really only did two horror films, 1972’s The Dead Are Alive and this 1975 giallo, which is a shame, as this is a pretty decent entry in the genre. Known in Italy as Macchie Solari (Sunspots), it does indeed feature sunspot footage from space before we see any major murders. And if you’re looking for a movie packed with autopsy footage, good news. It totally lives up to its title.
Simona Sana (Mimsy Farmer, who is also in Argento’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet and The Perfume of the Lady in Black) is a pathology student who is trying to work on a theory about suicides, one that’s disputed by a young priest, Father Paul, whose sister — Simona’s dad’s latest fling — has recently killed herself. It turns out there’s been a whole series of self-killings which are being blamed on, you guessed it, sunspots.
I mean, what can you say about a movie that starts with several of said suicides, like sliced wrists, a self-induced car explosion and a man machine gunning his kids before turning the gun on himself? Obviously, this is a rather grisly affair, with real corpse photos spread — quite literally — throughout the film.
In between all of the gore, corpse penises, two bodies falling to their deaths and crime museums, there’s also Ray Lovelock (The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) as Simona’s boyfriend, an out there Morricone score and a heroine who hallucinates that the dead are coming back to life.
The plot gets pretty convoluted, but if you’re on this site, you obviously appreciate films like this and will get past it. This is an Italian 70’s murder movie, though, so if you get easily upset about the way men behave, well, be forewarned.
Murder Mansion (1972): Originally released as La Mansion de la Niebla (The Mansion in the Fog) and also known as Murder Mansion, this Spanish/Italian film fuses old school haunted house horror with the then new school form of the giallo.
The plot concerns a variety of people drawn to a house in the fog, so the original title was pretty much correct. There are plenty of European stars to enjoy, like Ida Galli, who also uses the name Evelyn Stewart and appeared in Fulci’s The Psychic as well as The Sweet Body of Deborah. And hey, there’s Analía Gadé from The Fox with the Velvet Tail. Hello, George Rigaud, from All the Colors of the Dark and The Case of the Bloody Iris! They’re all here in a movie that seems to make little or no sense and then gets even more bonkers as time goes on.
This was one of the 13 titles included in Avco Embassy’s Nightmare Theater package syndicated in 1975 (the others were Marta, Death Smiles on a Murderer, Night of the Sorcerers, Fury of the Wolfman, Hatchet for the Honeymoon, Horror Rises from the Tomb, Dear Dead Delilah, Doomwatch, Bell from Hell, Witches Mountain, Mummy’s Revenge and The Witch). How did these movies play on regular TV?
There’s a history of vampires in the house, the previous owner was a witch and hey — this is starting to feel like an adult version of Scooby Doo with better-looking ladies. That’s not a bad thing. But if you’ve never watched a badly dubbed giallo-esque film before, don’t expect any of this to make a lick of sense.
Crazy Desires of a Murderer (1977): Sure, that’s a pretty lurid title — the Italian title I vizi morbosi di una governante translates as Morbid Vices of a Housekeeper — and trust me, this lives up to it, what with an older woman using a mentally challenged man and a teenager sexually — not at the same time! — and then a game of charades which is mostly people yelling out the names of films while everyone else gropes one another.
There are more than a lot of camera zooms in here, as well as bad sartorial choices and even worse life ones. When Ileana and her bunch of hip friends — their words not mine — gather at a gothic castle owned by a wheelchair-bound older relative of one of the girls, things get pervy, weird and murder, just as you’d expect.
If you are a hip friend or have hip friends (at which point that makes you a hip friend), then you should take this warning: do not go to hang out in gothic castles. Nothing, in my movie — not life — experience says that things will go well.
Meanwhile, two of these with it pals are using Chinese treasures to smuggle heroin — as you do — while Elsa the party girl ends up with both of her eyes torn out, just like Ileana’s mother had done to her by a relative who has lost his mind and is possibly prowling the catacombs of the castle.
This would be the last film that Filippo Walter Ratti would direct. You may have seen his other movies, including Mondo Erotico, Operation White Shark and Night of the Damned. Screenwriter Ambrogio Molteni also wrote the two Black Emanuelle movies, as well as Yellow Emanuelle, Sister Emanuelle and Violence in a Women’s Prison.
Speaking of Emanuelle, you may recognize Annie Carol Edel from Emanuelle and Francoise or perhaps from Almost Human or even The True Story of the Nun of Monza. No? How about Isabelle Marchall from Black Emanuelle? Or Patrizia Gori from Cry of a Prostitute, The Return of the Exorcist or as Francoise in Emanuelle and Francoise?
All of the movies in this set have been newly scanned and restored in 2k from their 35mm original camera negative. Plus, you get extras like a theatrical introduction with director Armando Crispino and a feature on his career, as well as interviews with actresses Ida Galli and actor Giuseppe Colombo. As always, there are also trailers and image galleries. Get it from Vinegar Syndrome.