Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Juego del adulterio, El (1973)

...aka: Deadly Triangle, The
...aka: Game of Adultery, The

Directed by:
Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent

Judging by the fact this movie doesn't even have five votes on IMDb yet, I assume not many people have actually seen it, and that's too bad. It's actually a pretty serviceable and well-made suspense thriller in the vein of the 1955 French classic LES DIABOLIQUES. While usually considered a giallo, this lacks the bold color, the elaborate murder/gore scenes and some of the more fluid camera-work usually associated with the better entries in that subgenre. However, the majority of gialli I've seen, regardless of how stylish some of the set-pieces may be, are poorly written, move at a snail's pace and are bogged down by showing every single little humdrum detail of detective/police procedural. This one doesn't even bother with the cops, sticks primarily to just four key characters and zips right along from one scene to the next. So despite the fact it's possibly lacking in style as well as gore/violence, it makes up for that by not plodding along like many of the other flicks it's commonly categorized with, as well as having a busy and incident-packed storyline that maintains interest from beginning to end. I also felt that the script and the lead performances in this were much stronger than usual. Like any good film in this genre, the storyline is full of well-played twists that kept you guessing from one scene to the next what's really going on.

The film revolves around an extremely unhappy and bitter couple; John (Vicente Parra - CANNIBAL MAN) and Alice (Erika Blanc - THE DEVIL'S NIGHTMARE) Harris. Alice inherited a great deal of money as well as a lucrative company when her father passed away. After marrying, her new husband John took the reigns. She thinks he married her for her money. He thinks she married him to run her company. At the beginning, viewers immediately side with John. After all, Alice is carrying on an affair with John's handsome co-worker, Andre Larson (Juan Luis Galiardo). When John walks in on them (brandishing a gun, no less!) he nearly keels over with a heart attack spotting the two of them in bed together. John promptly fires Andre. Alice promptly demands a divorce. Before you have a chance to start feeling too sorry for John, we get a peak at what he does in his spare time. That includes making frequent visits to a "floating social club" on a barge that's home to teenage prostitutes, drugs, all manner of sexual perversion and a crime ring! Pretty soon, there's an attempted murder that doesn't quite go off as planned. That leads to one of the principal characters dying, which leads to even more complications. Also somehow involved in all of this is Margot (Ágata Lys), a blonde fashion model who seems to be tailing Alice everywhere she goes.

I don't want to reveal any of the twists that follow because that would be spoiling part of the fun, but let's just say that the film is chock full of deception, false alliances, backstabbing, paranoia, stalking, spousal abuse, adultery, murder, death threats, insanity, blackmail, entrapment, revenge, childhood sexual abuse, creepy anonymous phone calls... You name a plot device and it's probably here. How all of this is finally resolved and the innocent party or parties vindicate(s) his or her or themselves is fairly clever as well, though a bit far-fetched. Some of the surprises along the way involve everything from a cellar full of flesh-hungry rats to a ghoulish/bloody mask to a scenic drive through a field full of land mines! Erika Blanc was the name that drew me in. I'm a big fan of hers, but unfortunately most of her movies are impossible to find here in America. If you also like Ms. Blanc, then this film is well worth tracking down. She not only looks gorgeous, but is in almost every scene and gives a great performance. It was also nice to see Parra in another film since I really liked him in CANNIBAL MAN. Galindo, Lys and the rest of the cast all performed well, too.

I'm pretty sure that this movie was never released in the States on either VHS or DVD, which means you really have to do some searching to find a copy. The print I watched, which actually wasn't in too bad of shape considering it was VHS, came from Greece, but was dubbed into English. I'm not sure if a better one exists out there or not. Somehow I doubt it.

★★1/2

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