Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Suzy Kendall and Robert Hoffman
SPASMO (1974). Director: Umberto Lenzi.

A young couple see a woman hanging from a tree but it turns out to be a life-size rubber doll. Then Christian (Robert Hoffman) and a lady friend spot what they think is a woman's corpse on the beach, but she turns out to be the very alive Barbara (Suzy Kendall), who agrees to have a drink and then disappears. Christian next spots her at a boat party he crashes, and winds up in her motel room, where a strange man breaks into the bathroom, threatens him with a gun, and gets shot in self-defense; later the body disappears. Barbara takes Christian to a friend's cliffside tower house, where they encounter an older man named Malcolm (Guido Alberti) and his younger companion, Clorinda (Monica Monet), both of whom seem to be keeping secrets. The trouble with Spasmo is that in trying to keep secrets from the audience, it leave us in the dark for too long, making the whole thing seem pretty nonsensical. [In truth, even after the revelations, the movie still doesn't make a lot of sense.] At one point Barbara, who throughout the movie says things like "I don't understand anything" and "I can't take any more" asks Christian "doesn't it seem terribly absurd to you?" at about the same time all the members of the audience are asking each other the very same question. Meanwhile, someone is leaving "murdered" mannikins all over the place. There's a wealthy man named Alex (Mario Erpichini) who seems obsessed with Barbara, and Christian's brother, Fritz (Ivan Rassimov), who may or may not be involved in what ever's going on. The acting isn't bad, with pretty Kendall, who also appeared in Torso, acquitting herself nicely, and Austrian actor Hoffman -- this Italian production has a truly international cast -- making a more than competent and very attractive leading man. The darn thing holds your attention because it's not only unpredictable for the most part, but you keep watching it for no other reason than to find out what the hell is going on; there's at least one good twist as well.

SPOILER ALERT. Spasmo  has been classified as an Italian giallo film but it's actually more of a suspense film than a horror movie or shocker. However, it does feature two brothers, one of whom is a serial killer of women, and another who stabs and strangles mannikins instead of real people.

Verdict: One of the weirdest movies ever. **1/2.

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