Monday, August 28, 2017

Giochi erotici di una famiglia per bene (1975)

... aka: Erotic Games of a Respectable Family
... aka: Juegos eroticos amorales (Amoral Erotic Games)
... aka: Juegos eróticos de una familia bien (Erotic Games of a Good Family)
... aka: Thrilling Story

Directed by:
“Francesco Degli Espinosa” (Enzo Matassi)

Known around town as the paragon of morals, values and social ethics, professor / city councilman Ricardo Rossi (Donald O'Brien) tells a few of his colleagues that “Everyone has the marriage they deserve” when the subject of divorce comes up. He's actually quite right. In the civilized world, no one can really force someone to marry someone else, nor does anyone absolutely have to stay in a terrible marriage. There are always other options. Ricardo's not immune from his own philosophy. Constantly busy with work, meetings and conventions (plus kind of an asshole to begin with), his younger trophy wife Elisa (Malisa Longo) isn't exactly happy. Suffering from stress, neck pain and nervous exhaustion, Ricardo skips a meeting and returns home early one evening only to find his wife upstairs in their bedroom entertaining company. Elisa's lover manages to conceal their identity and escape out of the window before Ricardo can shoot them. Elisa should have followed. Instead, her jilted hubby has special plans in store for her.

After slapping her a few times and calling her a “whore” and a “bitch in heat,” Ricardo asks his wife to pack her bags because she's leaving. She suggests they get a divorce and move on with their lives. Unfortunately, he's too paranoid about what that will do to his precious reputation and is publicly such a stickler on the indissolubility of marriage concept that he'll never allow that to happen. Ricardo then drives Elisa out into the country. He explains he's going to drop her off at a secluded mountain village where she'll live under a fake name and constantly be watched and monitored. Little does Elisa know, but he has other plans in store for her. He's already slipped sleeping pills into a drink she had before they left. When she passes out, he stuffs her in a sack, throws in a huge rock and rolls her body down a hill toward a lake.

Upon returning home, Ricardo sees the figure of a body lying under blankets on his bed. Just as he breathes a sigh of relief discovering they're just pillows, his wife's ghost appears in the doorway giving him the veiled threat that they'll soon be reunited for all eternity. But just as soon as she appeared, she disappears in the blink of an eye. Running through the entire trial in his head, Ricardo starts hitting the bottle and goes to a seedy area of the city to sulk.  As he's drowning his sorrows, he's approached by a hooker named Eva (Erika Blanc). She's not like the other girls. She's educated, intelligent, free-spirited, is a hooker because she wants to be a hooker and knows exactly what he, and perhaps any other man who'd seek the services of a girl like her, wants to hear. Sensing he's not like the usual tricks and has some class, she tells him she'd love to come stay with him for a little while and help him forget his female troubles. And what does he have to lose at this point?

Eva accompanies Ricardo home and then things start getting even weirder. The two head upstairs to make love while an until-now unseen grinning woman watches from the couch smoking a cigarette and the camera alternates between zooming in and out on the characters and zooming in an out on a spinning Frank Sinatra album; a simple yet quite hypnotic effect in a pretty clever erotic sequence. Afterward, Elisa's ghost makes her presence known yet again. The following morning, Ricardo receives a phone call from a woman who says “Murderer!” and then hangs up. A different kind of distraction soon appears on Ricardo's doorstep in the form of his wife's beautiful 18-year-old niece Barbara (Maria D'Incoronato), aka the girl who may or may not have been sitting on the couch watching him and Eva go at it. Ricardo soon finds himself courting the girl and to his surprise she's rather receptive.

Still, Ricardo finds himself wanting Eva back and is willing to pay top dollar for her to temporarily move in with him; handing out a 600 thousand lira advance on her services. There are more appearances by the ghost wife (who continues to threaten his life), more creepy phone calls and, to complicate matters further, a strange bearded man who was at the scene the same night Ricardo murdered his wife appears to be stalking him. Now that she's living with him, Eva cannot see Elisa's ghost like Ricardo can even when she's standing right next to her. Is he so racked with guilt he's hallucinating things and going insane? Is Elisa's ghost really back from beyond to settle the score? Did Elisa actually not end up dead in the lake after being pushed down the hill? And what part, if any, do Eva, Barbara and the mysterious bearded many have in any of this?

Essentially your standard issue “Is he or isn't he insane?” / “Is she or isn't she dead?” giallo mystery, this is livened up somewhat by amusing dialogue, welcome elements of black comedy sprinkled throughout, a decent cast and a heaping helping of flesh. Though the visual presentation often lacks punch (and style), the mystery itself is no worse than most other films of this type and it gleefully chucks out a bunch of twists toward the end that are as entertaining as they are silly. The script (which contains surprisingly decent dialogue) is from Renato Polselli, who'd previously directed such sleazy genre films as Delirium (1972), The Reincarnation of Isabel (1973) and Mania (1974), as well as some porn. He also wrote a number of 60s Gothic horror films. The director is a relative unknown whose only other directorial credit was the (reputedly terrible) spaghetti western comedy Once Upon a Time in the Wild, Wild West (1973).

Never released here in the U.S., this played theatrically in both Italy and Spain. The version I watched was taken from a Spanish language VHS released by Grupo Video in 1985. After this, I'm going to start keeping track of the amount of times Ms. Blanc actually wore that marvelous black bikini / bell bottom / catsuit hybrid in her various films. The outfit is so awesome she'd already worn it in both The Devil's Nightmare and The Red-Headed Corpse and it looks no worse for wear in this one four years later. It's obvious she had this outfit among her personal wardrobe, which makes me love her even more than I already do.

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