Mania (1974)

Barely released in 1974, Mania was once a lost giallo until a 35mm print surfaced in 2007 at the Cineteca Nazionale film archive in Rome, which keeps every movie submitted to censors. It’s somehow all at once a giallo, gothic horror and science fiction and refuses to make sense.

We start by meeting Lisa (Eva Spadaro) and her fiancée Lailo (Isarco Ravaiolo) as they speed along the highway with her remembering how she cheated on her husband Professor Brecht (Brad Euston, who also starred in the director’s Oscenità, a movie that is supposedly an allegory of female oppression yet contains corncob masturbation, bestiality and a lengthy lesbian orgy) with his twin brother Germano (also Euston), who is now in a wheelchair because his brother was caught in a mad scientist lab fire and his brother  —  not Lisa — could save him.  Now she’s lost her mind and is with her twin brother-in-law but also another man but oh yeah, there’s also a ghost car chasing them and Lisa is always taking her insanity up to 11.

That very same ghost attacks the housekeeper Erina (Mirella Rossi) with a plastic bag that is filled with blood by the end, but it doesn’t kill her, just scar her and take away her voice. For some reason, this makes Germano hate her and abuse her further with his wheelchair. Someone has also dropped off a model of a coffin — the same one her husband was buried in! — and her doctor tells her that the best mental health thing to do is go back to the now haunted house and face her fears.

Oh yeah. Lisa also has another maid, Katia (Ivana Giordan), who is her secret lover and when they hook up, the camera spies Erina pleasuring herself with a bottle while she secretly watches. Just in case you needed more sleaze, I guess. This somehow turns into a catfight and ends up Erina running in terror and right into Germano, who tortures her some more before using his burned-up hands to feel her up.

If it needs to get stranger, well, Lisa is attacked by a net full of snakes in the attic, saved by Erina and then those two go at it while Katia goes out into the garden and makes love to Germano atop his wheelchair.

This involves her reading mash notes from her deceased hubby who soon arrives as a zombie because why not? This is followed by her going into his crypt and this briefly being a Hammer movie until Germano decides to torture both Lisa and the housekeeper inside a futuristic BDSM machine because, look, I don’t know, this movie is awesome.

And by awesome, I mean weird as fuck.

I hesitate to give away any more. Trust me, there’s so much more. According to Eurofever, the fumetti of this movie shows page after page of graphic sex scenes that were taken from the final print. Like, you know how Erich von Stroheim supposedly shot crazy stuff that the Hayes Commission would never allow in his films? This goes there. And then it goes so much further. I mean, this is a movie that ends with a character leaping to her death and landing in a tree that — you won’t believe it — tears all of her clothes off.

The blame — or the thanks — for this goes to Renato Polselli, who also made The Vampire and the BallerinaThe Vampire of the Opera and two movies nearly as wild as this, Delirium and Black Magic Rites AKA The Reincarnation of Isabel. He pushes everyone in this cast to just go wild, so wild that Alucarda might appear and ask them to tone down all the screaming.

Claudio Fragasso was the assistant director. Do you need more to get you to watch it? How about Euston wrote it and, according to Roberto Curti’s Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1970–1979, “provided most of the money for the film himself on the condition that he was cast as the protagonist.”

This is absolute trash with a wild acid rock soundtrack that was made by a maniac, has actors overacting to a degree that they nearly destroyed reality and gorgeous women in fishnets making love just because they can. They need to invent a new galaxy for how many stars I give this movie.

You can get this from the Internet Archive.

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