JESS FRANCO MONTH: Robinson and His Tempestuous Slaves (1972)

Mr. Robinson (I just had a mental breakdown because I reconized Yehuda Barkan, the Israeli-born comedian and director of a Cannon film that never came to America, The Big Tease, is in the movie!) is tired of the married life with kids. He thinks that he’s a descendent of that book character and not just a simple phamarcist and ends up on a jungle island with three women: Samantha (Anne Libert, The Queen of the Night, not to quote Dio, but from A Virgin Among the Living Dead), Linda (oh man, my world’s collide again because that’s Andrea Rau, Ilona from Daughters of Darkness!) and Peper (Ingeborg Steinbach from the Schoolgirl Report movies and if you read that and paused and say, “Ah yes, Schoolgirl Report, you’re a pervert.” and then we will laughing with one another and not at like old friends should). He gets there, because this is a Jess Franco movie, thanks to a rich porn star jewel thief which is like, being President of the Jess Franco Cinematic Universe (also, friend, if you thought, “Oh yes, the JFCU.” thank you, I am writing this while high and maybe we are speaking through time, who can say, other than this 10mg of hard THC candy that just kicked in).

There’s also a talking chimp, Howard Vernon as a comical cannibal, a Franco cameo as a director, a triggering ending where the mean wife comes to the island and discovers what Trent Renzor really meant about “Happiness In Slavery,” a script by Ken Globus (another Cannon connection, he did second unit on Menahem’s Operation Thunderbolt and the pre-Golan and Globus Cannon release The Passover Plot and man, writing this movie is like Jim Garrison level connections because he also wrote the English language translations for the Lemon Popsicle sequel Going Steady) and Artur Brauner (who produced tons of Franco’s films and also wrote…man, make it stop! He wrote Cannon’s The Rose Garden, as well as Death Occurred Last NightThe Vengeance of Doctor Mabuse and X312: Flight to Hell).

Really, this movie kind of blew my mind. Thanks for reading and being there.

Oh yeah and it’s really not good. It’s not set in a real jungle, everything is very lad’s mag humor and Jess feels just there for it. But whatever. I’m still glad it exists.

ARROW BOX SET RELEASE: The Sergio Martino Collection

I’ve gone on record saying that I hold Sergio Martino in the same esteem as Dario Argento and feel that his giallo films are if not as good, often really close to being better. In fact, I’d compare his five-picture run from The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh to Torso to any giallo creator there ever is, was or will be.

Arrow Video has brought together three of his giallo in one impressive looking box set.

The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971): While she makes love to someone else, Lisa’s husband dies in a jet crash. She stands to inherit all of his money, despite them being basically separated. An ex-lover has a confrontation with her, threatening her with blackmail. She pays up — some money now, then some when she gets the letter where she wished that her husband was dead. But a gloved hand finds the letter and kills the ex-lover!

Lisa has to go to Athens to collect the money, but runs into one of her husband’s ex-lovers, Lara Florakis (Janine Reynaud, Succubus) and a knife-wielding maniac. Peter Lynch (George Hilton from All the Colors of the Dark) saves her and takes her to the hotel. She asks for all of the money in cash, despite warnings to how dangerous that is.

That same maniac tries to kill Peter, then comes back to kill Lisa, sharp jazz wails staccato punctuating each stab of the knife, each rip across her body. Jump cuts and flashes and the room is covered by the police, who question him.

An INTERPOL agent, Inspector Stavros (Luigi Pistilli, The Good, the Bad and The Ugly, Your Vice is a Locked Door and Only I Have the Key), offers to help Peter with the case and the moment he goes to talk to Lara, he’s attacked by the gloved man.

That brings in Cléo Dupont(Anita Strindberg, Who Saw Her Die?), a journalist who pretty much instantly falls in love with our hero. They go up to his room, but it’s been turned over by the police, with even the bed sliced open looking for the million dollars that went missing when Lisa was killed.

Turns out the gloved man wasn’t on Lara’s side — he or she slits her throat, then runs up a spiral staircase as a guard gives chase. This reveals a room full of one-eyed baby dolls and a strange oil painting. Between the woman’s face against the glass with blood spraying everywhere and these reveals, this film is really tipping its hat toward Argento.

The bodyguard chases after the killer, but is knocked off the roof. One slash across the fingers and we have another dead body. It’s 45 minutes in…and most of the IMDB cast is already dead!

That said — there’s a stewardess that gets the gift of scorpion earrings from an unseen lover. So there’s that.

Meanwhile, Peter and Cléo make love on an orange shag couch while a peeping tom watches from the window. You know how Bruce Banner always has on purple slacks and you wonder, “Who wears purple slacks?” Peter does.

The peeping tom wants him to move his car, which is blocking the garage. That said — he’s awfully creepy about it. Peter moves the car and then gets back to business time. PS — if you’re into late 60’s/early 70’s patterns and fashions, you may fall in love with this movie.

While George was out, the killer snuck in. Good thing he forgot his keys! He stumbles in at the last second, but Cléo has already been sliced up. The cops suspect Peter — but they also find a scorpion cufflink that looks just like the earrings we saw earlier.

Oh yeah — about that stewartress’s boyfriend? Yeah fights the killer, only to get his eye hacked out. Somewhere, Fulci was smiling.

Cléo is out swimming off Peter’s yacht and finds the money buried in a cave. Like a Republic serial villain, he reveals his entire plot. He worked for years to make money and saw rich people just throw it away. He put everyone against one another and even had a partner who would do the killings while he was in the room. It’s all rather simple as the police find and kill him before he can hurt her.

The Arrow Video release of this movie has an audio commentary with writer Ernesto Gastaldi, moderated by filmmaker Federico Caddeo (in Italian with English subtitles); interviews with Hilton and Martino; an analysis of Martino’s films by Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film; a video essay by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films; a trailer; an image gallery and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon.

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

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 1970s 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.

The Arrow Video blu ray of this movie has an interview with Martino; a making of with interviews with Martino, Fenech and Gastaldi; a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring Martino’s contributions to the giallo genre; a feature by film historian Justin Harries on Fenech’s career; Eli Roth speaking on the film and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin.

The Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975): A few minutes into this movie and you realize that you’re watching the work of a master. Sergio Martino made a series of six giallo from 1971 to 1975 that — for me — define the genre. The Strange Vice of Mrs. WardhThe Case of the Scorpion’s TailYour Vice Is A Locked Room and Only I Have the KeyAll the Colors of the DarkTorso and this film point to a high watermark for the genre.

This is the last of Martino’s giallo and doesn’t feature his usual cast, like Edwige Fenech or Ivan Rassimov. It does, however, have Claudio Cassinelli, who was in Murder Rock and What Have They Done to Your Daughters?

Cassinelli plays police detective Paolo Germi, who meets a girl named Marisa (Patrizia Castaldi, in her only acting role before becoming a costume designer) who is soon murdered. She was a prostitute and now, Germi is haunted by her death and wants to find the killers. Unfortunately, Marisa was in way over her head and getting the answers won’t be simple. After all, there’s a man with mirrored shades killing everyone that gets close to the truth.

This film is a combination of poliziotteschi and giallo, shot under the title Violent Milan. It was written by Ernesto Gastaldi, who wrote everything from Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory and The Horrible Dr. Hichcock to The Whip and the BodyThe Long Hair of DeathThe PossessedLight the Fuse… Sartana Is Coming, All the Colors of the DarkTorsoAlmost HumanConcorde Affaire ’79 and Once Upon a Time In America.

There’s even a meta moment where the cops question a subject in the movie theater while Martino’s Your Vice Is A Locked Room and Only I Have the Key plays. And look out — Mel Ferrer (Nightmare CityEaten Alive!) is in here as a police captain.

While this film doesn’t reach the lunatic heights of Martino’s finest works, it’s still a gleaming example of how great 1970’s Italian genre film can be.

The Arrow Video release of this film also has extras like audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films; an interview with Martino and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon.

You can purchase this Arrow Video box set from MVD.


Set in 1934 Japanese occupied Korea, Hapkido starts with Yu Ying (Angela Mao), Kao Chang (Cater Wong) and Fan Wei (Sammo Hung, graduating from getting his ass kicked by Mao and being on the same side; he also choreographed the fights) trying to start a school where they can teach hapkido, a martial art that uses joint locks, grapples, throws, kicks and punches. Unfortunately, the Black Bear Gang — Japanese toughs — want to run them out of town and keep trying to trick them into fighting. This goes against the will of their master but eventually, enough is enough.

Released in the U.S. as Lady Kung Fu — and even replacing Enter the Dragon as the top film of the week during the week of September 19, 1972 and using the tagline “Here comes the unbreakable China doll who gives you the licking of your life!” — Hapkido also features early appearances by Biao Yuen, Corey Yuen and Jackie Chan. Ji Han-Je, who appears as the teacher, was the man that many consider the founder of hapkido. He also is in Game of Death with Lee.

As for the music — which is always a fun thing for me in Hong Kong cinema, as I love to see where it takes songs from — Emerson Lake and Palmer’s “Eruption” is the theme song!

Between the direction by Huang Feng and Hung’s skills at showing unarmed combat in movie form, Hapkido is absolutely stunning, filled with intense fights and high drama as Mao stands — almost — alone by the end of the film. She’s amazing and you completely buy every strike she unleashes on her hapless and outmatched foes, even if I wish she’d been the lone warrior to protect the honor of her fighting style.

Hapkido has been released by Arrow Video in a set with Lady Whirlwind. Both movies have brand new 2K restorations by Fortune Star, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the films by critic James Oliver and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ilan Sheady.

There are two commentary tracks, one by Frank Djeng and Robert “Bobby” Samuels and one by Frank Djeng and Michael Worth, a new interview with Mao, archival interviews with Mao, Carter Wong, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, a vintage featurette showing Ji Hanjae teaching the lead actors hapkido, three alternate opening credits, the Hong Kong theatrical trailer, the U.S. trailer, a TV commercial and an image gallery.

You can get this from MVD.

You can also stream this movie on the Arrow player. Visit ARROW to start your 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: Lady Whirlwind (1972)

Angela Mao worked with director Huang Feng to create a series of martial arts films that are well-considered like Deadly China Doll, When Taekwondo StrikesHapkido and this movie. She’s best known for her appearance in Enter the Dragon as Bruce Lee’s doomed sister. After a career as a hard-fighting star, she moved to New York City in 1993 where her family runs several restaurants.

When Ling Shih-hua (Chang Yi) is left for dead by Yakuza attackers, he vows revenge as he is nursed back to health. His problems aren’t anywhere near over because Tien Li-Chun (Mao) is here, demanding that he take his own life for leaving his sister and causing her suicide. He begs her for a favor. He must have his revenge before he dies. Of course, he gets beaten down again and she has to save him after he gets buried in the sand up to his neck. That means that she has to save him and help him to defeat his enemies, all so that she can be the person who gets the pleasure of killing him.

In our country, this was given a sexy ad campaign and called Deep Thrust — wink wink nudge nudge — and the tagline “the deadly stroke of bare-handed combat.” It has no sexual content, so don’t be fooled. It’s about kicking some ass.

Besides that title, you know what else gets stolen? John Barry’s score from Diamonds Are Forever. Georges Garvarentz’s song “The Bulldozer Leads the Dance” is also in this, which doesn’t seem like music for martial arts mayhem, yet there it is, right?

This movie inspired me. I must find more movies where Mao, who looks so prim, proper and ladylike, unleashes hell and decimates ten or more human beings at once. This also has a wise old man who teaches the male protagonist the Tai Chi Palm and the bad guys have a villainess who uses a whip, which is all I ask for in a movie.

Lady Whirlwind has been released by Arrow Video in a set with Hapkido. Both movies have brand new 2K restorations by Fortune Star, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the films by critic James Oliver and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ilan Sheady.

There are three commentary tracks: one by Frank Djeng and Robert “Bobby” Samuels, another with Frank Djeng and Michael Worth, and another with Samm Deighan. There are also newly filmed interviews with Angela Mao and her son Thomas King, as well as alternate English credits, a Hong Kong theatrical trailer, U.S. theatrical trailer, radio ad and an image gallery.

You can get this from MVD.

You can also stream this movie on the Arrow player. Visit ARROW to start your 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Devil’s Island Lovers (1972)

When you hear Jess Franco Women In Prison movie, your mind may go to his more salacious efforts like Isla the Wicked WardenJustine, Barbed Wire DollsWomen Behind BarsLove CampSadomania or 99 Women, nearly all movies that push the very boundaries of taste and morality to their limits.

This movie isn’t that.

Beatriz Coblan (Geneviève Robert, who was also in Franco’s Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein and the mother of Jason Reitman and why doesn’t everyone ask him about that in every interview?) and Raymond Franval (Andrés Resino, The Murder Mansion) have both been framed for murder by Colonel Mendoza (Jean Guedes) and his mistress Emilia (Danielle Godet) for murder — by drugging them  and putting a bloody corpse in their room — and sent to Devil’s Island.

I guess it’s convenient to have both male and female prisons on the same island, but that also helps the two escape with the help of fellow prisoner Rosa (Josyane Gibert, who wrote the dialogue for Nightmares Come at Night and Female Vampire) and a lawyer named Lindsay (Dennis Price, Horror Hospital; this is his last feature film and he looks exhausted).

Howard Vernon shows up, which seems like a prerequisite for Franco movies, as well as Britt Nichols (Daughter of Dracula), Anne Libert (A Virgin Among the Living Dead) and even Franco composer Daniel White as an uncredited judge. Lina Romay is around there too, but doesn’t make herself known, unlike her near-psychotic work in Isla the Wicked Warden.

There are a lot of flashbacks and — as you can imagine — a lot of zooms. Unlike many other Franco movies, no one is nude and the camera isn’t trying to teach you how to be a gynecologist. This is a serious film and there’s no time for that. I mean, there are more than a few other films Jess did to scratch that itch.


Man, if you’re looking for a British seance movie — and really who isn’t — there’s not a better film for you than this 1972 bit of craziness. Sir Hugo Cunningham’s (Robert Stephens) idea of fun is to film the last moments of peoples’ lives and seeing if a smudge in the images are the soul of the body trying to escape. Man, Victorian England was daffy.

Things get crazier, because when he uses a camera at the party for his engagement, his new fiancée and son are killed in a boating accident. When he watches the movie he made of the tragedy — because why not, right? — he sees that not only has he captured the blur, but that it is moving towards his son. That’s when he starts to believe that these smudges and blurs are something he calls the asphyx, the grim reaper from Greek myth that individually comes for each of us.

Now here’s where things get even more interesting. Because our hero figures that the asphyx must deal with the rules of the physical world. So he invents a special light that uses phosphorus stones beneath a drip irrigation valve that can briefly capture that smudgy black angel, making anyone who keeps asphyx remained imprisoned into an immortal.

Cunningham tasks his ward — how rich and British and Batman do you have to be to get a ward — Giles (Robert Powell) with capturing his asphyx and burying it deep in a family tomb. Because after all, Cunningham’s contributions to science are just too important for him to ever die. They need to bring in another person, Giles’ stepsister (and fiancee, because this is high society England) Christina for help. If they help him become an immortal, he will consent to them getting married.

Nothing works out well for anyone, save perhaps the guinea pig that can’t die. He’s doomed to wander the Earth with an immortal Cunningham, all the way to modern London as seen at the end of this movie.

The Asphyx is a movie that feels like a hard sell to an American crowd. It’s kind of staid and nuanced, but the effects are pretty wild and the idea is definitely high concept.

This is the only movie directed by Peter Newbrook, who also wrote Gonks Go Beat, produced Corruption (which no woman will dare go home alone after watching) and worked on the second unit on Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge on the River Kwai.

The Kino Lorber blu ray release of this film has an extended 99-minute cut — its made from HD footage of a  35mm negative with SD footage from the U.S. master print, so quality jumps around a bit — as well as a trailer and commentary by Kim Newman and Stephen Jones. You can get it from Kino Lorber.

JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: Requiem for a Vampire (1972)

Shot in a historical castle in the small village of Crêvecoeur, Requiem for a Vampire finds director Jean Rollin’s fourth female vampire movie. The castle was nice — it was filled with expensive antiques — but Rollin was more interested in the dungeons that overlooked the entire region.

Marie-Pierre Castel, who starred in Rollin’s The Nude Vampire and Shiver of the Vampires along with her twin sister Catherine, stars and is joined by Mireille Dargent, whose agent was stealing her wages for the movie and Rollin figured that out and got her paid.

They play Marie (Castel) and Michelle (Dargent), who first appear as clowns on the run from unseen pursuers. Their driver is killed and they race into the woods where they are nearly buried alive in a cemetery and then an ancient castle filled with bats and a cozy bed to make love in. The castle is filled with skeletons and a male and female vampire. Of course, the male has designs on them, wanting them for his virginal eternal vampire brides, but Michelle ends up sleeping with another man which ruins those plans and almost destroys her relationship with her true love Marie.

Rollin wrote this in one sitting, piling story beats on top of one another with little care for plausibility or any connection. Then again, when was he any different? Amazingly, this played American grindhouses as Caged Virgins, a title that I guess makes as much sense as anything. One wonders what people thought when confronted by a near-wordless journey of two clown girls trying to shoot everything in their way and setting a man on fire before both finding their way to a vampiric master who finally decides that his bloodline must end.

He was learning however and got past censors by shooting a version where the girls stayed clothed, even when being whipped and while they engaged in a sapphic embrace. Most countries can handle horrific violence; the form of a nude woman is where the problems begin.

This is the only movie I’ve ever seen where a vampire bat goes down on a woman, so for that alone, Jean Rollin has my respect if not obsession.

Love and Death in the Garden of the Gods (1972)

There’s a scene in this movie where Erika Blanc walks down some steps wearing a white coat and I swear that if I hadn’t already been through puberty, I had my second one. I try to be above such things when I write of giallo (and gothic horror and women in prison and nunsploitation and Jess Franco and man, maybe I am scum) but I think I now believe in some form in Divine Spark and I will argue it with you at will.

Anyways, director Sauro Scavolini didn’t direct many other movies, but he did write All the Colors of the DarkYour Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key and American Tiger amongst many others. He also wrote this along with Anna Maria Gelli.

When a professor moves into a new home, he finds a mess of tape in the woods. When he cleans it, he finds himself drawn into the life — and death — of Azzurra (Blanc), just married to Timothy (Rosario Borelli) but in love with her brother Manfredi (Peter Lee Lawrence) and on a one-way ticket to suicide.

It may seem like the only nod to giallo is that the old man teaches ornithology and is only at the house to try to study a rare bird. It’s more a journey backward through the tape, as we see the many tragedies that led to greater tragedy. After she slices her wrists — nude in the bathtub so you don’t forget that this is a giallo — she’s saved by her brother’s supernaturally gorgeous new lover Viola (Orchidea de Santis, Seven Murders for Scotland Yard) and then falls for her and vice versa.

It also looks gorgeous, with cinematography by Romano Scavolini, Sauro’s brother and the man that would one day make Nightmare In a Damaged Brain. Somehow, a garden fried chicken party becomes a psychedelic freakout and even Blanc simply walking takes on a dreamlike tone.

Some people find this one too strange and too talky and not much happens but look, there are plenty of giallo that have actual killers and stalking and you can go watch those. If you want to be challenged, this one is ready.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Cinematic Void January Giallo 2023: What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cinematic Void will be playing this classic on Saturday, Jan. 21 at midnight at the Coolidge Corner, Theatre in Brookline, MA. For more information, visit Cinematic Void.

London. The 70’s. Professor of Italian Enrico Rosseni (Fabio Testi, The Four of the Apocalypse) is on his boat, making out with Elizabeth (Cristina Galbó, The Living Dead at Manchester MorgueThe House that Screamed) and trying to get her to go further than she has before. Right when it seems like he’s going to finally conquer her, she looks up to see a woman being stabbed on the shore.

After angrily rowing to the shore, Rosseni and Elizabeth find no evidence of a crime. He accuses her of being too religious, like all the girls at the school her uncle sent her to. The next morning, while he dresses and argues with his wife Helga, he hears about a horrid murder on the banks of the Thames river. He drives to where he and Elizabeth were and finds tons of cops. And there are even more at the school where he works!

The victim was one of Elizabeth’s friends, so she wants to tell the police what they know. However, he doesn’t want the affair exposed. However, his pen has been found near the body and he shows up in the crime scene photographs in the newspaper.

More murders. More clues in Elizabeth’s mind. More priests doing evil things. More anger from Helga. More of Rosseni trying to solve the crime. And all he has is one clue: Who is Solange and what was done to her?

The movie takes a turn when Elizabeth is killed inside the apartment that Rosseni has rented for the two of them to continue their affair. And at that point, Helga starts being much nicer to our hero. As their relationship improves, her makeup grows softer, her clothing gets more fashionable and her hair comes down. How strange to find a giallo about a relationship coming back together as the result of murder!

What happened to Solange (Camille KeatonI Spit on Your Grave)? She was given an abortion that all of the murdered girls were there for. In a kitchen, no less. And all of those girls were involved in doing drugs and dating older men.

So what do the cops do? Oh, just set up a sting operation with all of the surviving girls. And of course, Solange just happens to show up, walking through the park. Here’s the second of course — the cops bungle everything and the killer takes Brenda, asking her the story of Solange, as he did every other victim.

This is one well-put-together film, thanks to Massimo Dallamano, who was the cameraman for Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. Joe D’Amoto was the cinematographer and added plenty to the film. And you can’t deny the power of having an Ennio Morricone score!

This film is an interesting combination of the German krimi film and the Italian giallo and gave way to Dallamono’s Schoolgirls in Peril trilogy, which includes What Have They Done to Your Daughters? and Rings of Fear.

I always love seeing what titles films get released and re-released under. What Have You Done to Solange? has so many, including an attempt to sell it as a teen comedy entitled The Rah-Rah Girls! You can learn more at the amazing Temple of Schlock site. And for an awesome police report of the events of the film, head to The Giallo Files.

So who was the killer? No spoilers here.

Devil in the Brain (1972)

Oscar Minno (Keir Dullea, who in addition to 2001 has a career filled with odd films like Welcome to Blood CityFull CircleBunny Lake Is MissingDe Sade and Black Christmas to name a few) has come back from overseas and seeks out an old love, Sandra (Stefania Sandrelli, Divorce Italian Style) who is now a widow confined to her family estate, her husband potentially killed by her son Fabrizio (Maurice Ronet, Bloodline) and now in the care of the domineering Countess de Blanc (Micheline Presle). Meanwhile, Doctor Emilio Bontempi (Tino Buazzelli, who played Nero Wolfe on TV) believes that Ricky, now confined to the care of nuns, may be innocent of the murder.

Directed by Sergio Sollima (Violent City), who co-wrote the script with Suso Cecchi d’Amico (Bicycle Thieves, Brother Wolf Sister Moon) with a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, this has a higher pedigree than most giallo. It has no black gloved killer, little nudity and hardly any blood. Instead, this deals with class conflict, as Oscar was never considered a viable husband for Sandra and yet he still wants to save her — and maybe her son — from the stigma of mental illness. But when the working class proletariat interferes in the world of the bourgeois, nothing but pain can arrive.

I have no idea why more people aren’t watching and discussing this one. It’s probably not sleazy enough and has no interest in ripping off Argento. Instead, it emerges from a slow start to become a wonderful detective tale.