2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 2: Diabolique (1996)

DAY 2. TROUBLE IN THE TUB: Bath time ain’t always relaxing.

The Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac novel Celle qui n’était plus had been already made in 1956 as Les Diaboliques. But was it made in Pittsburgh? And did it star Sharon Stone, who skipped being in The Flintstones to make this?

Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik, whose career includes Benny & JoonNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and then this and The Avengers, this has a script by Don Roos, who also wrote Single White Female so you’d think he’d understand that whole concept of American giallo.

This is a movie with the absolute worst threeway relationship ever. Mia Baran (Isabelle Adjani) is a devout Catholic who works at a school with her husband Guy (Chazz Palminteri), a man so abusive that even his mistress Nicole Horner (Stone) feels badly for Mia, who we first meet as she nearly dies in a bathtub.

The two women decide that they’ve finally had it with Guy and lure him to an apartment of one of Nicole’s friends. Mia drugs him, they drown him in a bathtub and then carry his body out in a wicker box that they can barely get into the trunk. They toss his body in the swimming pool and when it disappears and photos of them killing him are mailed to the school, things get tense.

Also: that’s not just Donal Logue filming the school, but also J. J. Abrams. Kathy Bates shows up as an investigator, Spalding Grey — who died by a suicidal drowning — is a teacher and Bingo O’Malley — it’s a bigger deal if you’re from here — is in this too.

There are twists and turns — as you can imagine — as well as Stone hitting Palmieri in the head with a rake. I laughed out loud when that happened. It’s not good, but also it’s good because it’s Sharon Stone in a bad 90s remake of a movie that inspired so many other movies to the point that a remake feels beyond without reason.

Also: if you live in Pittsburgh, you realize that they’re just throwing names of cities out there. Come on, Sharon Stone. You’re from Meadville.

I always discuss that Stone would have totally been in an Umberto Lenzi giallo if she were around in the 70s. Her career path proves this. But as I keep track of what movies are Yinzer giallo — psychosexual murder movies made in the Steel City — this does not qualify. Sure, it has sex and murder, but it doesn’t get the geography right, theree are no accents and no one goes to a bar and has an IC Light. Nor do they visit a single landmark. You mean to tell me that Sharon Stone couldn’t walk past the Oyster Bar?

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