REPOST: Tokoloshe: An African Curse (2018)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally covered this film on December 27, 2019. It’s been re-released under a slightly different title and is now available on Tubi.

Busi is young destitute woman with dangerously repressed emotions that has just started a cleaning job at a rundown hospital in the heart of Johannesburg. In need of cash so she can bring her younger sister to the city, she must cope despite the predatory and corrupt hospital manager. When Busi discovers an abandoned young girl in the hospital that is being tormented by a supernatural force, she must face her own demons from the past in order to save them both.

A South African movie filmed in English and Zulu, this is the first full film from director Jerome Pikwane.

It looks gorgeous, as Busi’s past and present are both shown to be filled with dangers, despite feeling like two different worlds. South Africa has some of the worst violence against women in the world, crimes that critically go unreported, so hopefully this film can raise some attention.

The Murder Game (1965)

The IMDB summary of this movie is like something out of TV Guide‘s capsule reviews: “A woman abandons her husband, changes her name, and remarries again. Complications ensue.”

The real story is that our protagonist learns that his wife’s first husband isn’t dead. And perhaps even worse than that, he’s actively working with her to kill him off so they can take his money and run. That’s when a three-way game of cat and mouse ensues.

This is the last film of Sidney Salkow, ending a three-decade career behind the camera that saw him make movies like Twice-Told TalesThe Last Man on Earth and several pirate and cowboy films. Its writer, Harry Spaulding, also wrote Chosen SurvivorsWitcheryCurse of the FlyThe Earth Dies Screaming and The Watcher in the Woods.

Plus, you can spot a young Dyan Cannon, if you look hard enough.

Pufnstuf (1970)

Right after the H.R. Pufnstuf television series ended its initial run, this film was quickly made to take advantage of its popularity. Financed by Universal and Kellogg’s, the sponsors of the TV show, this film adds two new witches alongside Billie Hayes’ Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo: Witch Hazel, played by co-creator Sid Krofft’s neighbor Cass Elliot and Boss Witch, played by Martha Raye, who was so beloved by the cast and crew that she ended up playing Benita Bizarre in the Kroffts’ next show The Bugaloos.

The first choice to play Boss Witch? Bette Davis. When Sid called her, she was so upset that she was his first choice to play a witch that she hung up on him.

Pufnstuf is going to seem absolutely insane to anyone who didn’t grow up in the 70s. It tells the story of Jimmy (Jack Wild), who gets along with absolutely no one in his school and then ends up getting kicked out of the school band before he meets a magical talking flute named Freddy. Today, we would get Jimmy the right drugs and therapy and he’d be successful integrated into a group of kids that would understand him — before mercilessly roasting him on social media — but in 1970 Jimmy ends up on an evil boat and being taken to Living Island, which is ruled by Mayor H.R. Pufnstuf.

As for the antaognists, Witchiepoo wants to steal Freddy the Flute away from Jimmy in order to impress the visiting Witches’ Council and win the Witch of the Year Award. Oh yeah — th witches also plan on eating Pufnstuf, who I assume tastes like the best sashimi ever made.

What’s wild is that Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox worked together for the first time creating the music for this movie and stuck together afterward, writing the songs “Killing Me Softly with His Song”, “I Got A Name”, “Ready To Take A Chance Again” and many other popular songs.

You know who had it rough? Marty Krofft, who accepted the guardianship of Jack Wild while the teenage boy was working in the United States, in addition to producing the show and movie.

I’ve always wondered if McDonald’s ripped off the Kroffts. And I was right. The show was the subject of a successful lawsuit — Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions Inc. v. McDonald’s Corp., 562 F.2d 1157, — which was decided in the Krofft’s favor by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1977.

Pufnstuf the movie was directed by Hollingsworth Morse, who also made Daughters of Satan and Ark II, and was written by John Fenton Murray, who also scripted ArnoldLidsvilleSigmund and the Sea Monster and Partridge Family 2200 AD., and Si Rose, who wrote plenty of TV.

You can now get this movie from the awesome people at Kino Lorber, who have released it on blu ray along with an extra trailer. I’m excited to have this film as part of my collection and you will be too.

Garden of Hedon (2011)

Kevin Kangas (Fear of Clowns) directed and wrote (along with Luke Theriault) this film, which concerns a detective who awakens to find himself in a pleasure palace where all manner of decadent pleasures last eternally, from the simple act of eating to — you guesses it — any fetish there is. But when a dead body shows up in what seems like heaven, this become a mystery that needs solving.

This flirts with the giallo and has some great ideas, even if the costumes suggest Eyes Wide Shut on a Spirit store budget. Actually, isn’t that what we want so often? A movie that has ideas that are bigger than the money on hand to film it and the willingness to dive right in and try to make something great?

So yeah — you may not have seen anyone in this movie before. You may never see them again. But the central idea in here — is this heaven or hell or just somewhere strange on Earth and there’s a murder that needs solving — is solid.

Now, if you just gave it a more giallo-esque title instead of the punny Garden of Hedon, we’d be getting something. Ensnared in the Arms of HeavenThe Case of the Perverted EternityAutopsy of an Angel?

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s shot on digital, it could definitely use another pass on the script, some better acting, improved audio and less of that piano tinkling over and over and well, over. But hey — what have you done today? Did you convince a bunch of people to dress up and traipse about a mansion and make a horror movie for less money than some people make in a year?

Maybe I was in the right mood for this. I think watching forty giallo movies in two weeks kind of numbs you to reality which is exactly how I want to live my life.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Fourth Victim (1971)

I absolutely loved this movie. Seriously, what a madcap blast this was and it totally took me unawares. Arthur Anderson (Michael Craig) a wealthy Englishman with two previous wives who’ve also died suddenly and mysteriously, his third wife drowns. Luckily, his housekeeper’s testimony keeps him free and clear, even if the police continue to watch him.

The very night he is acquitted, Julie (Carroll Baker) breaks into his house, which is a giallo meet cute, and she becomes his fourth wife. But is she on the up and up? Is he? Why are the wives of Arthur Anderson dying in such frequency?

This movie steals just enough from Rebecca and Vertigo without being slavish to those films. I also absolutely adore that when we first meet Julie, she’s sleeping inside a tent in an abandoned mansion, because that’s totally normal. And is that Marina Malfatti (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the GraveAll the Colors of the Dark) skulking in the background, wearing a cape as a casual during the rainy evening ensemble I spy?

Spanish giallo has been a great rabbit hole to go down and I’ve also been enjoying slowly watching the resume of Eugenio Martín, who is best known for Horror Express, as well as It Happened at Nightmare Inn. And come on — Carroll Baker starring giallo is nearly a genre in and out of itself.

And while there’s no real hero here, I still enjoyed every minute.

Also known as Death at the Deep End of the Swimming Pool and The Fourth Mrs. Anderson, this has just been re-released by Severin, who include a trailer, a deleted scene and an interview with Eugenio Martín biographer Carlos Aguilar in their always stellar package.

The Stendhal Syndrome aka La sindrome di Stendhal (1996)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sean Mitus grew up watching Chiller Theater & Pittsburgh UHF channels and has been a drive-in enthusiast for the last seven years. Sean enjoys all genres but has recently become interested in Italian Giallo and Poliziotteschi genres. 

“A young policewoman slowly goes insane while tracking down an elusive serial rapist/killer through Italy when she herself becomes a victim of the brutal man’s obsession.” – IMDB

After licking his wounds from back-to-back underperforming releases filmed in the US (Two Evil Eyes and Trauma), Dario Argento returned to Italy (and some say to peak form) with The Stendhal Syndrome, hereafter referred as Stendhal Syndrome. The film stars his daughter, Asia Argento, as Detective Anna Manni and then Euro-star Thomas Krestchmann as Alfredo Grossi.  Argento’s Stendhal Syndrome is a fascinating inversion of the usual giallo tropes.  

The film opens with a cold open of Anna Mani and we have no idea who she is.  We see here have a transcendent experience while touring the Uffizi Art Gallery in Florence, Italy.  The experience is a purported psychosomatic phenomenon known as the Stendhal Syndrome and is visually realized in early CGI with visual flair by Sergio Stivaletti.  Anna is helped by a stranger, Alfredo.  Anna develops amnesia and begins to recover small details.  As she investigates the latest rape and murder crime scene, Anna is attacked and raped by Alfredo who turns out to be a wanted serial rapist and killer. What follows is another visual set piece of the rape and murder of another victim.

Anna escapes and attempts to put her life back together.  As she does, Anna has sudden shifts in her personality, appearance, and behavior.  She has another Stendhal experience before being reinstated to limited duties as a Detective with mandated counseling sessions.  Anna becomes obsessed in finding Alfredo and his visage begins to dominate her every thought.  She returns a colleague’s romantic advances with a simulation of her sexual assault by Alfredo.

Anna returns to her hometown and family for a more supportive environment.  However, her distant relationship with her father doesn’t help any.   Anna tries painting as therapy without rrelief  It actually seems to drive her deeper into mental instability.  While this goes on, we see Alfredo target, rape and murder another victim in a harsh set piece.  As Anna contacts early victims who attest to Alfredo’s brutality and devastating impact, Alfredo calls Anna from within her apartment and kidnaps her once again.  

Alfredo brings Anna to his lair and in the harshest set piece brutally assaults and rapes Anna.  He keeps her captive, and Anna has another Stendhal fugue of sexual torment.  Alfredo returns for another assault, when Anna manages to turn the tables on him.  She fights viscously and recovers her gun. In Alfredo’s attempt to exert psychological dominance, Anna manages to shoot Alfredo and disables him in a cathartic beating.  She taunts Alfredo before dumping him helpless into a waterfall and raging waters below.   

The final third of the film finds Anna unable to shake Alfredo’s psychological scars, even as she flips back to a feminine persona and appearance.  The investigation into Alfredo’s background reveals a distorted obsession with Anna.  She claims to be recovered from her visions and their effects.  She meets a French art student and the budding romance seems to put her on the path to recovery.  Suddenly, Anna is getting phone calls from Alfredo, and Anna’s new lover is mysteriously murdered.  Anna is notified that Alfredo’s body has been recovered and she seeks clarity from her psychologist who instead challenges her distorted point-of-view on Alfredo’s influence over her.

In the film’s climax, Anna’s colleague Marco rushes to see Anna as we see Anna fully transform to her feminine, protective self.  We see the body of her psychologist who was brutally murdered by Anna. We along with Marco see Anna finally revealed as the murderer of her psychologist and lover. Anna has finally succumbed to Alfredo’s madness in full. She lures Marco to her car and kills him. Anna attempts to flee, but we know she never will be free of Alfredo as the film ends.

As I mentioned, the Stendhal Syndrome is dominated by the theme of inversions: 

  • The story upends the usual giallo tropes with the killer being known early in the film.
  • The killer, Alfredo, is dispatched at the midpoint of the film.
  • Anna becomes predator a la rape revenge movies (Call Her One Eye; Repulsion; I Spit on Your Grave).
  • Anna becomes more aggressive both sexually and personality, dresses more masculine, and later seeks out and repeats her degradation on Alfredo
  • Anna later flips back to her feminine side to but continues to lose control of her sanity and ultimately descends into madness a la Repulsion

The Stendhal Syndrome is a strong entry in the giallo pantheon.  Argento’s aggressively misogynistic treatment of how women are assaulted and murdered, rivaling Fulci’s The New York Ripper) and Asia Argento’s relatively young age in the role (just 21 during release) may put off some.  I argue that by this time Argento had included more slasher-style set pieces as with Tenebrae, Trauma and Opera so this shouldn’t come as a surprise and that  Asia Argento’s performance does not limit her character development.  

Further strengthening the viewer’s experience is Thomas Krestchmann’s sublime performance as the sociopath Alfredo, the moody cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno, and Ennio Morricone’s usual nuanced score.  I recommend The Stendhal Syndrome for giallo and Argento fans who have seen his earlier works. Seek out Blue Underground’s 3-Disc Limited Edition for a full treatment of this deserved gem!

References

  • The Art of Madness: Inside ‘The Stendhal Syndrome” – Michael Gingold; Blue Underground 3-Disc Limited Edition © 2017
  • Film Commentary – Troy Howarth; ; Blue Underground 3-Disc Limited Edition © 2017
  • So Deadly, So Perverse, Vol. 2 – Troy Howarth; Midnight Marquee Press, Inc; © 2015
  • https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117658/reference

GIALLOPALOOZA PRIMER!

Get ready! Starting tomorrow, the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama is presenting “Giallopalooza”, two big nights of classic, fully restored giallo thrillers from such maestros as Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Sergio Martino!

On Friday, September 17, the line-up will be What Have You Done to Solange?, Torso, A Lizard In a Woman’s Skin and The Cat O’Nine Tails. Saturday, September 18 they will present Deep Red, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Blood and Black Lace and Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key.

Admission is $10 per person each night (children 12 and under FREE with adult guardian). Camping on the premises is available each night for an additional $10 a person, and that includes breakfast.

Advance tickets are available online at the Riverside Drive In’s webpage.

Here are the eight movies. To read a deeper review, just click on the link.

What Have You Done to Solange?: When a philandering teacher romances a student on a boat, they are witness to a murder on shore, the first of many that may be caused by the actions of the teacher.

Massimo Dallamano started his Schoolgirls in Perili trilogy, which includes What Have They Done to Your Daughters? and Rings of Fear, with this mixture of the German krimi film and the Italian giallo. He’s aided an abetted by an Ennio Morricone score and cinematography by Aristide Massaccesi, which is the real name of the man with so many of them, Joe D’Amato.

Torso: A serial killer is using a red and black scarf to murder several gorgeous college women. Is even an escape to a resort far away far enough?

Sergio Martino is one of the absolute master directors of giallo and while this film flirts with the slasher by the end, it still has many of the trademarks of the genre. It also has an astounding sequence where the masked killer appears in the morning mist that gets me every time.

A Lizard In a Woman’s Skin: The daughter of a British politician witnesses a death in one of her dreams and when she wakes up, she’s the suspect in this journey through madness.

If you only think of Lucio Fulci as a gore director — well, there’s goes in the too — this is one movie you need to discover.

The Cat O’Nine Tails: A newspaper reporter and a puzzle-obsessed blind journalist — and his niece — attempt to solve murders connected to a pharmaceutical company’s experimental, top-secret research project.

Dario Argento’s second film in the Animal Trilogy was written by Argento with Dardano Sacchetti and Luigi Cozzi. It’s also notable because it has two leads familiar to American audiences, James Franciscus and Karl Malden.

Deep Red: The murder of a psychic leads a pianist and a journalist on their own investigation into just who could be committing a series of horrific crimes.

Argento’s first team-up with both Daria Nicolodi and Goblin. Plus, this movie has perhaps the most frightening appearance of a doll ever.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage: An American in Paris witnesses an attempted murder and tries to solve the mystery. But does he remember everything?

Dario Argento’s 1970 film was a hit worldwide, signalling a rush for nearly any Italian exploitation director to make films with animal titles, black gloves, POV killers, jazzy soundtracks and no small number of murders.

Blood and Black Lace: A fashion house of ill-repute is where models engage in sin and pay the price in a movie that is quite literally a pornography of violence (and style).

This is my favorite giallo of all time and you have no idea just how excited I am to see it play out on the big drive-in screen, the places where movies are most meant to be viewed.

Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key: I remember in the time before I watched this movie where I’d just stare at the poster and the title and wonder, how is this even a real thing? And it is, a glorious Sergio Martino-directed opus.

Also released as Gently Before She Dies, Eye of the Black Cat and Excite Me!, Martino’s fourth giallo is a direct reference to the note the killer leaves for Edwige Fenech in his first take on the form, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh.

Remember — the event is this Friday and Saturday with admission just $10 per person each night (children 12 and under FREE with adult guardian). Camping on the premises is available each night for an additional $10 a person, and that includes breakfast. Advance tickets are available online at the Riverside Drive In’s webpage. I hope to see you there — stop by and ask for a drink of J&B or one of the many cocktails I’ll be making up for the evening.

Night one cocktails:

Che cosa hai fatto al gatto nero? AKA Drinks of The Black Cat (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 oz. blue curacao
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 3 oz. lemon-lime soda
  • 1 oz. cranberry juice
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  1. Fill a shaker halfway with ice, then add curacao, vodka and lime juice. Shake.
  2. Add soda and stir.
  3. Pour cranberry juice into a tall glass. Over the back of a spoon, strain the mixed ingredients over the cranberry juice and see how gorgeous it looks, like Barbara Bouchet showing up in motorcycle gear in Perversion Story.

Una mela che porta le tracce della violenza AKA The Apple Murders (from the J&B site)

  • 1 5 oz. J&B
  • 4 oz. sparkling apple juice
  • Apple, cored and sliced
  1. Put on black gloves and play with a switchblade, noticing how it catches the light.
  2. Core and slice apple, then place in glass with ice.
  3. Pour apple juice and J&B over top. Enjoy!

Night two cocktails:

6 drink per l’assassino AKA Blood and Penny Black Lace (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1.5 oz. J&B
  • .5 oz. pink grapefruit juice
  • .5 oz. honey syrup
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • Dash of bitters
  • A cherry
  1. Shake all ingredients with ice in a shaker until cold.
  2. Told with a cherry, then watch out for spiked gloves to the face.

L’uccello dal piumaggio giallo AKA The Bird Who Dreamed of Another Cage (adapted and changed from this recipe)

  • 1.5 oz. rum
  • .75 oz. Campari
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • .5 oz. maple syrup
  • 1.5 oz. pineapple juice
  1. Watch a murder happen with no context, then get dragged into the investigation.
  2. When that’s done, pour everything into a shaker with ice, shake it up and pour into a glass. Enjoy!

The artwork for this article comes from Bill Van Ryn and it’s awesome.

GIALLOPALOOZA PRIMER: Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s never been a better titled movie ever. Sergio Martino again proves why he was the absolute master of the genre with this film. We originally shared this movie on November 7, 2017 and can’t wait to see this at the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama Giallopalooza on September 17 and 18. The artwork for this article comes from PhilRayArt. Buy something from them!

Has a movie ever had a better title? Nope. Sergio Martino’s fourth entry into the giallo genre, following The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail and the previously reviewed All the Colors of the Dark, it refers to the note that the killer leaves to Edwige Fenech’s character in Mrs. Wardh. And the title is way better than the alternate ones this film has — Gently Before She Dies, Eye of the Black Cat and Excite Me!

Martino wastes no time at all getting into the crazy in this one — Oliviero Rouvigny (Luigi Pistilli from A Bay of Blood, Iguana with the Tongue of Fire, Death Rides a Horse) is a dark, sinister man, a failed writer and alcoholic who lives in a mansion that’s falling apart (If this all feels like a modernized version of a Poe story like The Fall of the House of Usher, it’s no accident. There’s even an acknowledgment that the film is inspired by The Black Cat in the opening credits.). His wife, Irina (Anita Strindberg from A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Who Saw Her Die?), suffers his abuses, but never more so than when he gathers hippies together for confrontational parties. He makes everyone pour all of their wine into a bowl and forces her to drink it, then humiliates their black servant Brenda until one of the partygoers starts singing and everyone joins in, then gets naked. This scene is beyond strange and must be experienced. Luckily, I found the link for you, but trust me — it’s NSFW.

The only person that Oliviero seems to love is Satan, the cat that belonged to his dead mother. A black cat that talks throughout every scene he’s in, his constant meows led to my cats communicating with the TV. God only knows what a 1970’s giallo cat said, but it seems like his words spoke directly to their hearts.

One of Oliviero’s mistresses is found dead near the house, but he hides her body. The police suspect him, as does his wife. Adding to the tension is the fact that Irina hates Satan, who only seems to care about messing with her beloved birds.

Remember that servant? Well, she’s dead now, but not before she walks around half-naked in Oliviero’s mother’s dress while he watches from the other room. She barely makes it to Irina’s room before she collapses, covered in blood. Blood that Satan the cat has no problem walking through! He refuses to call the police, as he doesn’t want any more suspicion. He asks his wife to help him get rid of the body.

Oliviero’s niece Floriana (Edwige Fenech, pretty much the queen of the giallo) is in town for a visit, learning how Oliviero hasn’t been able to write one sentence over and over again for three years, stuck in writer’s block (and predating The Shining by 5 years in book form and 8 years away from Kubrick’s film). Unlike everyone else who tolerates Oliviero’s behavior or ignores it, Floriana sees right through the bullshit. The writer is used to seducing every woman he meets and she initially rebuffs him, even asking if it’s true that Oliviero used to sleep with his mother. He angrily asks if it’s true that she’s a two-bit whore. “Those would be two bits worth spending,” is her caustic reply.

Irina confides all of her pain to Floriana as the two become lovers. And another girl gets murdered — perhaps by Oliviero. Then, a dirt bike racer comes to drop off milk and hit on Floriana. Whew — I was wondering when this film would get hard to follow and start piling on the red herrings!

After being questioned by the police, Oliviero comes home to choke his wife. He stops at the last second…then we’re off to the races! The motorbike races! The milkman loses when his bike breaks down, but he’s the real winner — taking Floriana back to the abandoned house that he lives in. And oh look — there’s creepy Oliviero watching the action.

Meanwhile, Satan has gotten into the coop and chowed down on several of the birds. Irina catches him and they have quite the battle. He scratches her numerous times before she stabs him in the eye with a pair of scissors. An old woman watches and is chased away by Irina’s yelling.

She’s afraid that her husband will kill her once he learns that she killed Satan. And Oliviero keeps wondering where the cat is, especially after he buys the cat his favorite meal from the store — sheep eyes. That said — Satan might not be so dead, as we can hear his screaming and see him with a missing eye.

Floriana puts on Oliviero’s mother’s dress, asking if this is what the maid looked like before she died. Whether it’s the dress or the forbidden family love or just her beauty, he rips off her dress — at her urging, mind you — and begins making love to his niece. We cut to Idrina, caressing her pet birds, when Oliviero confronts her with scissors and questions about Satan. He almost stabs her before he ends up raping her inside the coop, while Floriana looks on. She playing them off the other, even telling Idrina that she’s slept with her husband. She also tells her that Oliviero wants to kill her, so she should kill him first.

Idrina wakes up to the sound of Satan, but can’t find him anywhere. What she does find is her husband in bed with Floriana, who is belittling him. With every sinister meow, there’s a zoom of the cat’s damaged eye. Finally, Oliviero attacks her for spying on him, slapping her around before he leaves to write. She walks the grounds of the mansion, seeing the motorcycle rider make a date with Floriana and catching sight of Satan, who runs from her. In the basement, she finds scissors and the hidden bodies of her husband’s lover and the murdered maid. In a moment of clarity — or madness — she stabs her husband while he sleeps. The sequence is breathtaking — a giallo POV shot of the murder weapon intercut with the same sentence being typed over and over interspersed with all of the abuses that Oliviero had wrought upon her. She stabs again and again before Floriana interrupts, asking her if it was easy. The sentence that the author had written again and again was him claiming that he would kill her and there was a space in the wall for her, so obviously, she had to kill him.

As for Floriana, all she wanted was the family jewels, which were hidden in the house. They seal Oliviero’s corpse within the wall while Walter watches from afar. He’s played by Ivan Rassimov, who does creeping staring dudes better than anyone else — witness his work in All the Colors of the Dark. And it turns out that he’s the real killer! He’s been typing “vendetta” over and over again. Floriana asks if Idrina was planning to kill her before she runs off into the night, then Walter appears to kiss Idrina. Turns out they were working together all along — she tells him where to find Floriana the next morning. Holy shit — Idrina reveals her whole plot, revealing how she drove her husband crazy, making him believe that he could have been a murderer! She wishes that there was an afterlife so Oliviero’s mother — who she killed! — could tell him how great her revenge was. She ends by wishing that her husband was still alive so that he could suffer for eternity.

Walter sets up an accident that takes out Floriana and her boyfriend, as their motorcycle crashes, sending blood across the white heart of a billboard and out of her lips. He tosses a match on the gasoline-soaked highway, burning both of their corpses. He collects the jewelry and gives it to Idrina, who responds by shoving him off a cliff!

When she returns to the mansion, the police are there, as there were alerted to her stabbing Satan by the old woman. They come inside the house to write a statement, but hear the sound of Satan’s meows. Following the sound, they find him inside a wall — with the corpse of her husband!

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key is superb. An intriguing story — only a few derailing giallo moments (like the killing of the girl in the room with the dolls and the B roll motocross scenes) — with great acting, eye-catching camerawork and some genuine surprises, it’s well worth seeking out and savoring.

Drive-In Super Monster-Rama is presenting “Giallopalooza”, two big nights of classic, fully restored giallo thrillers from such maestros as Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Sergio Martino!

On Friday, September 17, the line-up will be What Have You Done to Solange?, Torso, A Lizard In a Woman’s Skin and The Cat O’Nine Tails. Saturday, September 18 they will present Deep Red, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Blood and Black Lace and Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key.

Admission is $10 per person each night (children 12 and under FREE with adult guardian). Camping on the premises is available each night for an additional $10 a person, and that includes breakfast.

Advance tickets are available online at the Riverside Drive In’s webpage.

Col cuore in gola (1967)

The original title of this movie translates as With Heart in Mouth, but it was also released under several alternative titles, including I Am What I AmDeadly SweetEn cinquième vitesse (In Fifth Gear), Dead stop – Le coeur aux lèvres (Dead Stop – The Heart to the Lips), Con el corazón en la garganta (With My Heart in My Throat), Heart Beat and Ich bin wie ich bin – Das Mädchen aus der Carnaby Street (I Am What I Am – The Girl from Carnaby Street.

Bernard (Jean-Louis Trintignant) discovers Janes (Ewa Aulin, Candy) standing over a dead body in a London nightclub and instantly believes that she has to be innocent. Her father has recently been killed in a car accident, but Jane thinks that he was killed because of a blackmail scam gone wrong. And that body? The blackmailer.

He protects her from a series of shadowy men — including a dwarf — and the police that are following them both as they go deeper and deeper into the darkness that is her life. So does the control that he thinks he has over her life, but Jane is the kind of hurricane that has seemingly destroyed many a man before.

Man, this movie is something else. Tinto Brass directed it and it looks part comic book, part documentary, shot with hidden camera and wild zooms. It’s as 1967 as it gets and I mean that in the best of ways, with loud fuzzed-out music, pop art sensibility, switches from black and white to color and moments where Aulin’s beauty threatens to shatter whatever reality exists on film. Guido Crepax, whose comic Valentina was the basis of Baba Yaga, drew the storyboards and his art appears throughout the movie.

Brass’ only giallo, this feels more Antonioni than Bava. And yeah, it may go on a bit too long, but when it’s on, it’s on.

Now, to be up front, Aulin was all of sixteen when she made this and she has some semi-nude scenes. If that offends you, you can choose not to watch this.

Midnight Lace (1960)

HOLLYWOOD GIALLO (+ ITS OTHERS), the awesome IMDB list by Schwenkstar, described this nascent giallo as “Stalker disguises his voice in a creepy manner to hide his identity, a multitude of red herrings keep you guessing, and a shock reveal.”

What it did not tell me was that Midnight Lace starts Doris Day — of all people — as American heiress Kit Preston, a young girl who is one day threatened by an unseen voice inside the fog that threatens to kill her, keeps gaslighting her and makes her think that she’s going insane.

Day vowed to never make another thriller after this movie, as she said it so emotionally drained her. She stayed true to her word. Perhaps the reason why she was so mentally destroyed by this picture was that in order to be properly inspired to be afraid, she called upon a memory of her first husband dragging her out of bed and throwing her into a wall.

Midnight Lace is pretty much like a cover version of a Hitchcock thriller. Beyond having so many of his stars — Day was in The Man Who Knew Too Much, John Williams was a cop in Dial M for Murder* and To Catch a Thief, as well as John Gavin being in Psycho, this feels like, well, Dial M as a telephone is how the killer goes after our heroine who has a husband named Tony.

That said, the ending, which finds Day trying to escape through the scaffolding of her house after the reveal of who the villain really is — well, that’s the whole reason to watch this.

*Anthony Dawson and Herbert Marshall were also Dial M and this movie.