Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
THE WHIP AND THE BODY [AKA WHAT]
THE WHIP AND THE BODY [aka What/La frusta e il corpo1963]. Director: Mario Bava [attributed to "John M. Old"].
The Menliff family is disturbed by the reappearance of errant son Kurt (Christopher Lee), who went away after his dalliance with a maid led her to take her own life. Her mother (Harriet Medin), another domestic, keeps the bloody knife her daughter used to kill herself under glass as a morbid memento, and it is used when people in the Menliff castle start getting murdered. Is someone human behind the slayings, or is it a ghost from beyond the grave? The title is apparently explained by more than one sequence in which Kurt whips his sister-in-law Nevenka (Daliah Lavi), who was once affianced to him but then married his brother Christian (Tony Kendall), and who seems to enjoy the sadomasochistic foreplay. Like most of Mario Bava's movies this one has atmosphere, good photography and settings, and is drenched in the usual bizarre and colorful lighting schemes, but it's also a bore, with lots of walking around and brooding that amounts to very little; there's nothing remotely scary about it. However, the film has one of the best dubbing jobs of an Italian import, and the voices are well chosen, especially the actor who dared to dub Christopher Lee.
Verdict: Another bad Mario Bava movie. Watch his superior Blood and Black Lace instead. **.