Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Delirium: Photo of Gioia (1987)

"Can you help me find my contact lens?"

As a director, Lamberto Bava has always lived in the shadow of his father, but you can't help invite comparison when you release a giallo with a setting so similar to one of Mario Bava's best (Blood and Black Lace). Gioia (Serena Grandi) is a porn star/photographer turned owner of a soft-core skin mag called "Pussycat". Unfortunately some nutbag is killing her models and then sending her photos of the victim posed in front of a giant topless photograph of her. Who could it possibly be? Well, let's look at the list of suspects.

Firstly, there's the wheelchair-bound pervert next door who likes to make obscene phone calls to Gioia, watch her through binoculars etc. She's cool with this. He is the one who alerts her to the first murder, but when she goes out to look for the body in the pool it's gone. Even the blood has been magically removed. In order to cast further suspicion on him, the film hints that his paralysis may be psychosomatic.

She also has an assistant (Daria Nicolodi), who appears in the film just long enough to look suspicious. When the policeman announces that the killer has blonde hair, Nicolodi squirms and makes a face as if to say "I hope nobody notices I'm the only one here with blonde hair." Of course, he gives himself an out, claiming that the killer might be wearing a wig, as if wig-wearing killers are an everyday occurrence. Although in giallos they usually are.

There is also her quick-tempered photographer (David Brandon). He's a homosexual which in the context of a giallo means he's likely to be a crazed homicidal (homocidal?) deviant who hates women. While searching his apartment, the cops find the enormous poster of Gioia that was used in the photos of the vicitims. They call up Gioia to warn her, just as the photographer knocks on the door with some urgent news about the killer. Will he chase after her and then get hit by a car before he can divulge the identity of the killer? Maybe.

There's a few minor characters to round things out, such as a bitchy rival, Gioia's maid (she walks in just as a character says "there's something we're missing") and a few others. George Eastman plays Gioia's on-again, off-again boyfriend who shows up in what is essentially a cameo, for a cheesy softcore sex scene in the tub. There's a saxophone noodling in the background but they forgot the hundreds of lit candles, so somebody dropped the ball on that one. In an interview on the DVD, Eastman calls his work on Delirium "a waste of time", which is damning criticism considering some of the films he has been in. Plus he got to grope Serena Grandi, that's got to count for something.

The film's central conceit is that when the victims are stalked, we see them through the distorted mind of the killer. This means lots of crazy coloured lighting (Lamberto doesn't use it as well as his father, I'm afraid) and the victims are seen as strange and fantastical creatures. For instance, one victim is seen as a bug-eyed cyclops and another as having a giant bee head. Of course, these grotesque heads are still perched atop sexy female bodies, which looks more than a little goofy. Like his mentor Argento, Lamberto scores the kills with rock music, but the cheesy synth-rock on offer here isn't exactly Goblin.

Those expecting the excessive violence of Bava's most famous giallo, A Blade in the Dark may be disappointed by this tv-friendly film. The death scenes are reasonably creative, one woman gets a pitchfork in the gut and another is killed when thousands of bees are released in her apartment, but don't expect blood and gore. They tried to make up for it with the nudity. Since it's set at a nudie mag, there's plenty of topless women cavorting about, especially Serena Grandi.

This film is Serena Grandi's second film after having an impromptu cesarean section in Joe D'Amato's Anthropophagus. Apparently Grandi is known as the "Dolly Parton of Italy", but I can't find any mention of her country music career, so I don't know what they're talking about. She isn't the breast actor in the world so tits a mystery why they hired her. She is frequently overshadowed by her two co-stars and frankly it makes the casting director look like a boob. Jubblies. Funbags. Serena Grandi has huge knockers, is what I'm saying here.

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