Saturday, November 12, 2016

Midnight Blue (1979)

... aka: La domenica del diavolo (The Devil on Sunday)
... aka: Noche azul (Blue Night)
... aka: Sexy Blue
... aka: Week-end me poly sex

Directed by:
Raimondo Del Balzo

A busload of teenage female track athletes are taking a “tourist trip” along the Mediterranean coast. After making a pit stop to swim, Francesca Laruso (Monica Como) and her pals Rita (Christiana Borghi) and Elena (Elisabetta Valgiusti) decide they'd rather spend a few days at the secluded beachfront villa owned by Francesca's rich mother than continue with the boring tour (“To think, it's only educational for God's sake. Who needs it? I certainly don't!”) They manage to convince their chaperone Silvia (Dirce Funari) to drop them off there, with plans of the bus swinging back by in a couple of days to pick them up. After the girls get settled in, they hit the beach and then decide to do a little topless sunbathing afterward. It's a privately owned beach after all, so why not? As they're relaxing, three older men; Pier Luigi (“Michael Coby” / Antonio Cantafora), Mario (Vincenzo Crocitti) and Bruno (Giancarlo Prete), suddenly approach and ask to use the beach. The naive girls unwisely decide to be a little more friendly and accommodating than they should be and it ends up biting them in the ass.

About two minutes after the men have arrived, Rita takes Pier Luigi up to the house and has sex with him in the shower while the camera moves up and down their bodies for several minutes. Afterward, Francesca offers to give the guys a place to stay for the entire weekend since lodging is hard to find in those parts. They play cards, eat, talk about nothing in particular and there's another sex scene between Rita and Pier Luigi. The following day, Pier Luigi drives Francesca into town to pick up some food at an outdoor market. She grabs a newspaper while she's there, gets back in the car and opens it only to discover their three guests have just escaped from prison. She attempts to get to a payphone but Pier Luigi catches on and drives her back so he and his pals can figure out what to do.

The three girls are then yanked back inside where they're thrown on the floor, called bitches, tramps and cunts, have their clothes cut off with a switchblade, are watched while showering, get slapped around, get gang raped and are constantly threatened with death. The criminals, who'd all been given life sentences for murder and rape prior to escaping, cut the phone wires, eat like pigs, get drunk and mock family photos. They plan on killing them once their crime boss shows up with their passports, but two of the girls manage to escape through a second floor window onto the roof and then into the woods. They're finally able to put their track skills (one girl is an expert javelin thrower) to good use dispatching the cretins, but the story doesn't quite end there.

This falls into the “terror film” category of European Last House on the Left wannabes that were very popular in the 70s and early 80s. These all feature a small group of people being held hostage, beaten, murdered, raped and / or terrorized by violent criminals before finally deciding they've had enough. Others in the cycle include the Turkish Last House in Istanbul (1974), Night Train Murders (1974), HITCH-HIKE (1977), LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH (1978), the porno Hard Sensation (1980), House on the Edge of the Park (1980), TERROR EXPRESS (1980), VACATION FOR A MASSACRE (1980) and the list goes on. Some other films were even inappropriately titled to appeal to those looking for a Last House-style film, like Bava's trendsetting BAY OF BLOOD (1971) and the (very good) Spanish psychological horror film CANNIBAL MAN (1973). Based on what I've seen, I'd throw Midnight Blue right at the very bottom of the list.

Not only is this one of the cheapest films of the bunch, it's also one of the dullest. It's not thrilling, suspenseful or even slightly disturbing. It's also poorly made, poorly edited, poorly scored (the Stelvio Cipriani central theme of a woman going “da da da da” is looped endlessly) and suffers from a bland cast playing characters who are given little personality in the script. To make matters even worse, it takes forever to kick into gear and falls so flat for so long it's hard to even really appreciate the amusingly grim ending. Injecting a pair of dimwitted cops (clearly ripped off from Last House) into the film for a few scenes just comes off as a desperate attempt at levity.

When all else fails, make your crappy thriller look like a porno!

Though this was a theatrical release in numerous countries (including playing in Italy under at least three different titles!), it was never released here in America. There are two cuts available: One is a decent quality widescreen print in Italian and the other is an awful quality (and too dark) full screen print in English. I unfortunately had to watch the latter, which was taken from a Greek VHS release on the EKO Video Films label.

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