Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Unseen #54: The Black Belly Of The Tarantula

Why’d I Buy It?: Given to me during the great Insomniac close of Aught Eight.

Why Haven’t I Watched It?: No real reason.

How Was It?: I’m beginning to think I don’t like Giallo very much.

Trust me this surprises me as much as anyone.

A few days ago I would have thought this absurd. The definition of a dead issue. After all, Italian Horror Seventies and Eighties is one of my favorite flavors of horror. And I love the subgenre’s three Master’s so much that I’m thinking of starting a holiday called Bavargentofulcimasgiving And while truth be told I, now that I think about it, prefer their supernaturally based horror in each case I’m also a big fan of films like, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, The Bird With Crystal Plumage, The Psychic, Twitch Of The Death Nerve and Deep Red. All stalwarts of The Giallo subgenre.

So I would have thought that I had already made my choice regarding Giallo. My ballot had been cast with my checkmark in the “pro” box. I had a bumper sticker that read “My Other Car Is Fueled By J&B Whiskey, Eurotrash Girls, And Highly Unlikely Plot Twists. And I Drive It Whilst Wearing Fetishic Gloves Made Of Leather And Latex.”

Yet it occurred to me as I watched The Black Belly Of The Tarantula just how few Gialli I’d seen outside of that core group of filmmaker’s work. Something significant since this is the second time in as many months that I've been left staring with befuddled disconnect at an avowed genre classic.

I was literally perplexed by just how little I cared for the film. After all, all the elements were there, a swinging Ennio Morricone score, sun dappled cinematography and violent set pieces and that impalpable blend of ennui and decadence that makes up Euro Sleaze.

The movie was certainly having a good time. I simply wasn’t.

Black Belly Of The Tarantula is about the pursuit of a murderer who paralyzes women with a rare poison which leaves them immobilized but with their nerves intact, so they can feel it when he stabs them in the uterus.

Given that Black Belly Of The Tarantula is a product of the mind of Paolo Cavara, that gentle soul who gave the world Mondo Cane, I suppose this is not the sickest shit he could have come up with. For which we can only be grateful.

Issues of taste aside, tacky as it may be Black Belly Of The Tarantula is hardly the worst thing I’ve seen. The film is powerfully unengaging. The movie does have its bright spots including Giancarlo Giannini’s (of Hannibal the closest an American film has come to Giallo. But more on that later...) able performance as the hard bitten, somewhat hangdog detective assigned to find the vagina stabber. Also the afore mentioned score by Ennio Morricone.

But the plot, though as arbitrary as most Giallo lacked that energy, as well as anything that might be classified a mood and since the murder scenes focused on victims who were for the most part immobile even they lack any sense of suspense. I wish I could say that I was angered, or even incensed by Black Belly’s casual sadism. But truth be told I was just sort of bored by it.

Let’s hope that The House With The Laughing Windows will break my Giallo classics losing streak.


Neil Fulwood said...

Dude, I've got that bumper sticker, too. As well as one that reads "Honk If You Witnessed A Brutal Murder And Are Troubled By The Fact That You Saw Something Important But Just Can't Quite Put Your Finger On It". Very few people honk, but you often get stopped by the police.

'House with the Laughing Windows'. Hmmm. I think you'll enjoy it more than 'Black Belly', but be prepared for a supremely bland leading performance and a very hokey and unsatisfying plot device near the end.

Bryce Wilson said...

I just laughed very loudly in a public place thanks to that bumper sticker.

I'll bear in mind what you say about The House WLW. It's next on my list of Gialli but I probably won't get to it in for a few weeks.

Biba Pickles said...

I think I ate that chocolate squirrel.