Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Placer sangriento (1967)

... aka: Deadly Organ, The
... aka: Feast of Flesh

Directed by:
Emilio Vieyra

A young couple spot a "spooky lookin'" man wearing a mask and driving a silver Porsche dumping a half-naked body off at the beach. The victim's chest has a syringe sticking in it. She's brought to the coroner's for an autopsy and her death is written off as being a heroin overdose. However, that may not actually be the case. According to the coroner's assistant, the doctor who performed the autopsy, Dr. Bermudez (Alberto Candeau), may just be bitter because his wife and her lover were both high on drugs and got into a fatal car crash years earlier so now he's drug-obsessed and thinks everything has to do with drugs. Suave Inspector Ernest Lauria (Mauricio De Ferraris) is flown in to aid Officer Winston in the investigation. Meanwhile, strange things are going on with the youth population in the area, particularly with the young women. Two of those girls, Marcella Johansson (Susana Beltrán) and Louisa Cummings, had disappeared for an entire day only to reappear later acting rather strange and all zoned out. Both ladies seem to fall under trances and wander off into the night. The same thing happens to another girl, Sara, which causes some problems between her and her fiancée Edward.

As it turns out, all three ladies have been put under the spell of an organ-playing man wearing a droopy / wrinkly mask. When they show up at his pad late at night, he shoots them up with some kind of drug, has sex with them and then sends them on their merry way. The man behind the mask seems to be making himself a harem of sex slave junkies dependant on his fix. Once the ladies have been driven to the brink of sanity, he just kills them and finds a replacement. But who is the culprit? All three girls have been given an LP of strange music by shady nightclub jazz pianist Silvio Valverde (Ricardo Bauleo), so he becomes a chief suspect. Because of his past history, an obsession with drugs, the fact the autopsy report disappears and that he taught one - or possibly all - of the girls how to play piano, Dr. Bermudez seems a likely candidate as well. Even Bermudez's assistant seems to be somehow involved. He gave sheet music to one of the girls with the strange organ song the psycho usually plays at night. And, of course, if this functions like some other mysteries do, all of the above may just be obvious red herrings.

Inspector Lauria is walking the beach at night and encounters a girl (associate producer Gloria Prat) about to get raped by Leo, the boyfriend of one of the victims and aka suspect #4. After chasing the assailant off, he goes on to basically blame the girl for the incident, saying she was basically asking for it and telling her that her nickname Baby "...is a good name for you because you're both a baby and flirting femme fatale." The two naturally begin a little romance on the side. One of the affected girls, Louisa, is eventually hypnotized with some kind of acid (?) and reveals that the killer is "a real man... so groovy" and again makes mention of music. A cemetery caretaker is murdered and Leo is seen exiting the cemetery at the same time. After another murder, the psycho then kidnaps Baby. She seems to recognize the voice and manages to escape back to the police with the identity of the killer. Or so she thinks. But never fear, the identity is finally revealed during the big (and completely non-thrilling) cliff-top climax.

I quite liked the same director's THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP (1967), which was trashy, funny and wonderfully weird. This one, not so much. The exploitative elements, minor violence and peek-a-boo nudity that's usually difficult to see, are very mild and it's far too routine to be the least bit memorable. The storyline is weak, the dubbing is awful and there's really no mystery to solve since most of the supporting cast acts eccentric and suspicious the entire time. In other words, the killer could be pretty much be anybody. When the mask finally comes off it's like, "yeah, whatever." One of the only interesting things about this are the depictions of the swingin' Argentinean youth, who spend their days frolicking on the beach and their nights partying in a nightclub. They're far looser, less judgmental and wilder than, say, the people of the same age in American Beach Party movies. Gay men and lesbians mingle with everyone else and nobody make a big deal about it and the women nonchalantly remove their tops on the beach and do strip teases at the bar.

Filmed in 1965 but not released until two years later, a heavily cut version of the film used to play double-bills with NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES (1968). Something Weird has retained this double feature for their DVD release. Vieyra also made the genre films STAY TUNED FOR TERROR (1965), BLOOD OF THE VIRGINS (1967), NUDE BEAST (1967) and IT HAPPENED AT THE BOARDING SCHOOL (1985). Jack Curtis - director of the pretty great THE FLESH EATERS (1961) - wrote the English dialogue.


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