October 31, 2015


The film begins with a pretty young blonde named Nora aboard a plane set to arrive in Italy. In her hands is a book, a dime-store murder mystery thriller with the words The Knife emblazoned upon its cover in ghastly lettering. Voice over narration informs us that Nora has been sent to Italy to stay with a family friend, Ethel, by her mother, the hope being that a trip abroad will break Nora from her murder mystery novel obsession. A man offers her a cigarette, which she accepts. He will later be arrested by the police in the airport. The cigarettes he’s carrying are laced with marijuana. Arriving at Ethel’s home, she meets Marcello, a doctor, who informs her that Ethel is ill, suffering from a high heart rate. Later that night, during a loud thunderstorm, Ethel dies of a heart attack and Nora leaves the house in a panic to get help, the phone lines knocked out as a result of the storm.

As she navigates the darkness near Piazza di Spagna, she is attacked and knocked unconscious by a mugger. When she comes to, Nora hears a scream in the distance. Before her very eyes, a woman staggers into a courtyard and falls over, dead with a knife in her back. As she cowers behind cover, Nora sees a bearded man approach the corpse, pulling the knife from her back and dragging her away. Dazed from the head injury she received during the attack on the steps, Nora passes out. In the early morning, she is found by a man. He pours liquor in her mouth, trying to revive her, but bolts when a police officer approaches. The police officer, thinking she is drunk, takes Nora to the hospital. Even though Nora is adamant that she witnessed a murder last night, no one believes her, writing her off as a drunk with a head injury, but it soon becomes apparent to Nora that she needs to figure out the truth of what happened that night at Piazza di Spagna because someone is coming to kill her.

Another film, this time in color. A woman named Rosy arrives home at night. From her clothing and late arrival, we can assume that she is a call girl. As she readies a bath, the phone in her home rings. Rosy answers but no one is on the other line. The phone rings again. It’s a man’s voice, hushed, almost a whisper. He is going to kill her. Rosy is understandably bothered by the call, even more so when the mysterious man phones her up again and again, each time revealing that he can see what she’s wearing, where she hid her jewelry and what room of the home she’s in. After hearing a noise at the front door, Rosy discovers an envelope lying on the floor. Inside is a newspaper clipping featuring a picture of a man’s face with a caption telling us that his name is Frank Rainer and that Frank has just recently escaped from jail.

Rosy picks up the phone, calling a woman named Mary. They are ex-lovers and we can tell from Mary’s tone that she was not the one who broke up the relationship. Rosy tells Mary that Frank has escaped, that he knows she was the one who turned him in, leading to his arrest, and that Frank is coming to kill her. She wants Mary to come over and spend the night and Mary, clearly amused by all this, accepts the offer. Rosy hangs up the phone only for it to ring again. The man’s voice on the other line chides Rosy for inviting her friend over, reiterating that she will die by his hand before dawn. What Rosy doesn’t know and what we now see for ourselves, is that Mary is the one making these calls, a vicious and vindictive bit of mind game meant to ingratiate herself back into Rosy’s life. Mary arrives at Rosy’s home to spend the night. A little later, as Rosy sleeps, Mary sits in front of a desk in the darkened room, writing a confessional to her ex-lover, explaining why she pulled the prank on her, not knowing that Frank really has come back to kill the woman who betrayed him.

The two films described above are, respectively, THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and THE TELEPHONE, the first segment in the horror anthology movie BLACK SABBATH. They were both directed by the same man, Mario Bava, in 1963 and both mark first steps for the giallo film. The murder mystery thriller genre of film was at that time largely non-existent in Italy, with most examples of that kind of film being imports, like the Krimi films from Germany, many of them murder mysteries, most of them adaptations of novels and short stories written by Edgar Wallace, one of the most popular post-war pulp novelists at the time. Bava’s THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH deviated from the more serious minded (though no less campy) Krimi in being a self-aware, self-reflexive piece of work, a pastiche of sorts built from Hitchcock, Expressionism, pop art and well worn detective fiction tropes. It’s relatively simple story of a young girl forced into taking on the role of amateur detective to solve a crime (and thereby save her life) is a breezy, romanticized treat, filled with suspenseful moments, but lacking in the more cynical, nasty details that pervaded the much darker American crime thrillers and Krimis. 

THE TELEPHONE is a much different beast. While Nora is a woman assailed from without, Rosy is a woman assailed from within. This shift from a danger "out there somewhere" to a danger coming from within her past (or circle of acquaintances) makes this all together less encompassing film into an exercise of tightly wound suspense. Depending on the version you watch, the lesbian subtext either exists or is replaced with something far less offensive to the often puritanical film censors of the 1960s (at that time, lesbianism, like all other forms of non-heteronormative behavior, was considered deviant). In the Italian version, the lesbianism feeds into the more typical damsel in distress tropes on display, revealing a film that is as much about a man wanting to punish a woman for betraying him to the police as it is about a kind of dubious moral consciousness that wants to punish a woman for rejecting heteronormative sexuality.

These two strands of narrative threads (the amateur detective narrative and the poisoned past narrative) would become the de facto narratives for virtually every giallo film that followed in the 1960s and 1970s. They would sometimes cross-pollinate with the amateur detective discovering the killer to be their friend, relative or spouse. Even as the lines between the police thriller and the giallo blurred with films like THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA and WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?, narrative elements of one (or both) of the foundational narrative types bled through. But what was missing in 1963 was the look and feel of the giallo.

In 1964, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE was released. Again directed by Bava, this tale of murder and mayhem at a haute couture fashion house brought forward most of the visual elements that would go on to define the giallo look. It would also define the attitude, that implacable bit of cynical venom that ran through the veins of the 1970s gialli. This is a movie concerned with fashion models, a haughty Countess and her arrogant lover, drug addicts and thieves all under the assault of a masked killer determined to render flesh and sever arteries. The opening shot of a sign above the front gate to the fashion house being blown off its chains by the forceful winds of a storm is the perfect visual metaphor for the corrupt and corrosive attitudes inside the building. This is a movie all about surface appearances, evidenced by its opening credits, a series of tableau shots of characters standing in front of mannequins and ornate bric-a-brac. Each one of these characters is a mess of secrets and deceptions lurking behind a veneer of respectability. The faceless killer could be any one of them and that’s the point. Remove the outer shell of humanity from any of them and all you’re left with is something inhuman. 

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE gives us the typical giallo killer disguise, a black rain or trench coat, a black fedora, a bavaclava and black gloves. It gives us the obsession with style, the outward appearance that marks the characters as showpieces. It gives us the murder fetish where instruments of destruction are given pornographic attention and the scenes of bodily destruction have an immediate, almost sexual feel to them. It gives us the purposefully obtuse camera angles, the roving shots of ornate architecture, the close-ups of suspicious glances and ever-watching, unblinking eyes. But most importantly, it gives us the set piece.

The original Italian title of BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is SEI DONNE PER L’ASSASSINO, literally translated to SIX WOMEN FOR THE MURDERER. Typical in giallo films, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is a movie where the narrative halts almost entirely to devote running time to the stalking, terrorizing and murder of women. Perhaps the first body count movie ever made, the narrative here borrows a bit from Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in that each murder doesn’t so much propel the narrative forward as simply compacts it down (like a game of Guess Who?, only here you don’t simply fold the plastic pieces down after they’re eliminated, you slit their throats). Like Christie’s story and the dozens of movies based off of it, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is only ostensibly a murder mystery. Characters are not worried about the identity of the killer. They’re worried about whatever personal private information is contained within the diary of Isabella, the killer’s first victim. Everyone in the film is concerned with self-preservation, but not the kind you would expect in a movie where a killer is running around strangling people. They’re more worried about having their dirty laundry aired which would certainly be their death, not physically but socially.

But in all honesty, this film doesn’t care about telling a compelling whodunit story. After all, this is a film whose original title was SIX WOMEN FOR THE MURDERER. Bava is only concerned with one thing here and that’s the creation of tense, self-contained bits of thriller cinema. In a way, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE prefigures the slasher film much more solidly than Hitchcock’s PSYCHO. The inclusion of a police investigator into the mix only serves as a launching pad for the films sadistically ironic finale. Where BLOOD AND BLACK LACE differs from the simplistic breasts and blood slasher film is in the way Bava presents his story visually.

Perhaps the single most interesting thing about BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is the painterly, hyper-stylized look of the film. Awash in gelled lights, this is a Crayola nightmare of a film, a watercolor chiaroscuro fever dream positively dripping with menace and constructed with deliberate, almost obsessive attention to detail. Bava’s history as cinematographer comes to the forefront here with every single scene containing a jaw dropping amount of visual power. Much of the irony derived from the films narrative is the juxtaposition of beautiful imagery with graphic grue and violence. The first murder of the film is set in a wonderfully Gothic outdoors arena. A beautifully lit room, walls touched with hints of pink and baby blue, gives way to a scene of a woman having a spiked glove rammed into her carefully made up, glamour magazine perfect face.

It’s difficult to put into words the sheer beauty of Bava’s film just as it’s difficult to describe its deliberate attempt to discard verisimilitude for atmosphere. If SUSPIRIA is Alice and Wonderland as written by a madman and photographed by Jack Cardiff, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is FRIDAY THE 13TH as written by a pretentious leftist pundit and art directed by Henri Matisse. The collision of staggering beauty with stomach churning violence (unlike most movies of the time, the violence here actually hurts to watch, so much so that I hope the actresses earned hazard pay) is just another irony in a movie full of them.

By the time the credits roll on BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, the giallo film has been birthed, albeit fragmented. It would be another five years before the pieces were all put together by Dario Argento in THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, a film which found the success Bava never did. BLOOD AND BLACK LACE was a flop, like THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH before it. Today, Bava is remembered as a master of suspense, a man whose influence can be seen throughout modern cinema. Had BLOOD AND BLACK LACE achieved mainstream success at the time, I wonder what the course of the giallo film would have looked like.

October 30, 2015


Giulio Questi’s 1968 art house giallo DEATH LAID AN EGG is a strange egg indeed. Here is a movie where the central metaphor for its underlying anti-capitalism message is a state of the art, automated chicken farm. Endless shots are devoted to dissecting the inner workings of this machine. Countless angles are devoted to showing the feed mills, perpetually grinding. Untold minutes are given over to shots of chickens, their heads sticking out between prison-like gratings, ceaselessly gulping down mouthfuls of feed that ironically both sustains them and pushes them closer to their destruction. An advertising executive puts forth a branding idea, producing capitalist propaganda posters reminiscent of those found during World War II that attaches human identities to these creatures, like a soldier or a businessman. The capitalist farming and destruction machine eventually produces what is determined to be the best of all possible mutations, creating chickens that have neither heads nor wings, rendering them unable to think or flee, all the better for easy capitulation, exploitation and slaughter.

This is a movie seemingly obsessed with the vacuity and meaninglessness of upper class life. At one point, a large group of wealthy do-nothings deconstruct a posh upper class room in a posh upper class house so they can lock themselves in two at a time. They fuck, fight and tell secrets behind that locked door, the implication being that the only way these people can actually be people is in secret. Our lead character engages in murder role play, taking hookers to a secret hotel room in a middle class part of town so he can gain some kind of control and satisfaction in ridding his life of his wealth-obsessed wife and the shallow vacuum of his existence, even though he knows that this is only a charade, that he cannot be apart from the system. In the ultimate irony of the film, our lead, the only character that shows any resistance to his role in this most empty of lives, ends up not apart from the system, but a part of the system, callously tossed headlong into the thing he resents, swallowed up and digested by the capitalist machine.

And while all of this is going on, there are the giallo elements dancing amid the Godard-like editing and post-modern constructions of its authors, Questi and Franco Arcalli. The giallo at play here is your typical wealth-obsessed, love triangle-born tale of sordid greed with Jean-Louis Trintignant falling for his wife’s lovely young secretary, here played by the fetching Ewa Aulin. His wife, played by Gina Lollobrigida, owns his stakes in the business. Getting rid of her would be getting rid of his guilt for feeding the machine. Together with Aulin, Trintignant plans on murdering her, only for his plans to fall through when it’s revealed that Aulin is having a love affair with Jean Sobieski’s advertising executive. Thinking that Trintignant is actually murdering prostitutes instead of just engaging in a bit of harmless role play, they launch a plot that involves planting a dead body at his secret hotel room meeting spot, only to have the whole thing come crashing down around them.

While it’s tempting to read the failure of their plans as a kind of “greed never triumphs” moral stand, the ending of the film is ambiguous at best. As the credits roll, just after a police man has devoured a raw egg, there is little doubt that their arrests haven’t solved anything. The only morally decent character has perished and the machine still churns on as if nothing could ever stop it. We have forever perverted the natural order by reducing lives down to dollars or dinners. This bitter view of modern life is reinforced throughout the film with even the editing delineating conversations into broken fragments of barely cohesive moments, constantly distracted and busy, as if time is money and can’t be spent focusing on any one thing for too long at a time because there’s dimes and nickels to be earned elsewhere.

DEATH LAID AN EGG is, at the end of the day, not so much a giallo as an art house film that uses the underlying concerns of the giallo (the effects of modernity and our ambivalence toward them, cynicism, greed, callous disregard for normality in favor of extravagance) and channels them into an aesthetic that both deftly illustrates those concerns while also subverting them. This might very well be one of the richest giallo films in terms of subtext, but on the surface level, it might be too much flash and style for many viewers. It certainly is a beguiling and often troubling film, frankly gorgeous to gaze at and endlessly fascinating in hindsight, but it’s also much ado about nothing if you just want to watch a comfortably engaging mystery thriller.

October 29, 2015


Here’s a rarity for you, Tonino Ricci’s 1971 giallo thriller UN OMICIDIO PERFETTO A TERMINE DI LEGGE, strangely re-titled outside of Italy to CROSS CURRENT. The film follows Marco Breda, a middle-aged wealthy man suffering from partial amnesia after receiving a head injury during a boat racing accident. Retiring to his villa for recovery, Marco is joined by his lovely wife Monica, her much younger sexpot friend Terry, Marco’s boat racing rival and best friend Tommy, and Burt, the man in charge of Marco’s relatively successful business empire. Marco’s recovery isn’t aided by his constant and confusing memories of someone being gravely injured in a fall from the hideous tree in the front yard. Worse, his ex-gardener is found strangled to death and run over just hours after Marco received a phone call from the man urging him to come alone to a meeting in the middle of the night. Certainly, Marco isn’t to blame, right? He couldn’t be. But why did Monica see him leaving the villa after midnight, something he only vaguely remembers doing, and why is the front of their car damaged?

It becomes apparent that something quite sinister is going on when Tommy is disemboweled and dumped into the river after snooping around Marco’s boat, the same one he was captaining during the crash. Marco soon shacks up with Terry, causing his wife to attack her in a jealous rage. When Monica is accidentally shot to death during the scuffle, Terry and Marco dispose of her body. Shortly after, the police finally drag poor Tommy’s corpse from the river and Inspector Baldini pays Marco a visit to inform him of the bad news. As he tries to deflect the Inspector’s questions about his wife’s whereabouts, Marco is shocked to discover the Monica is still alive, standing behind him in the room as if nothing happened. The shock causes Marco to speed off, the police in pursuit. The chase ends when Marco drives his car off a cliff, disappearing into the water below, killing himself.

And that’s just the first hour. The final 20 or so minutes is when CROSS CURRENT ditches any attempts at playing straight and just gives in to delirious absurdity. This is THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE meets DIABOLIQUE, a completely lunatic dive straight down the rabbit hole of nonsense, and man, is every minute of it just solid gold. While the finale of CROSS CURRENT stretches credulity to its absolute limits, the double-triple-quadruple crosses at the end of this film are precisely what made the giallo such a joy to watch. Not content with one simple resolution (read: one that makes sense), the film presents us with a series of climaxes that dish out poetic justice and yummy, yummy irony with gleeful abandon. There is always a sense of triumphant finality when the bad guys get what’s coming to them and CROSS CURRENT certainly delivers the goods with a wonderfully orchestrated slow motion bullet bath for a character, a punctured skull for another, a cheating of death that rivals Indiana Jones in a refrigerator for both absurdity and cheesy awesomeness, and a sneering backhanded bitch slap to the incompetent cops that should have figured this all out 45 minutes ago. The only way this finale could be more sardonic is if the theme song for THE CANDY SNATCHERS was playing on the soundtrack the whole time.

It’s a damn pity that NoShame Films and other DVD distributors like it have all but disappeared these days because CROSS CURRENT definitely needs a scrubbing off and proper distribution. Even in the grubby fullscreen VHS rip I watched, it is obvious that the film was made with a great deal of style. There’s a real Gothic horror element at play in the film, most evident when Marco wanders around the house and garden in the middle of a horror movie thunderstorm. The gardener’s death is preceded by a very skillful stalking sequence, Ricci doing an excellent job at both misdirection and hyperbolic exaggeration of various giallo visuals like light dancing through colored glass, swiftly moving shadows and a pair of unblinking, menacing eyes in the darkness. While the violence of display is rather tame, some are done in glorious Fulci fashion with intestines spilling out of stomachs, a treat for those who prefer their violence a bit more on the saucy side.

The performances are all top shelf as well with the always enjoyable Philippe Leroy as Marco, Elga Andersen as Monica and Rosanna Yanni as Terry. As someone familiar with those actresses and their *ahem* bodies of work, I found their casting here quite interesting, with the usually nude Yanni relegated to prude status and the normally less sexual Andersen morphing into a glamorous temptress as the film went on. Ivan Rassimov, whose presence is a giallo is virtually a spoiler warning in and of itself, is always a welcome sight, one of the few giallo actors that could manage to turn a throwaway role into a memorable character. Toss in a playful Giorgio Gaslini score, some questionable psychology and enough J&B to drown the whole of Central Europe and you have a giallo that pushes all the right buttons without overstaying its welcome or confusing its plot mechinations for serious business.

October 28, 2015


THE IGUANA WITH THE TONGUE OF FIRE is a 1971 giallo film so bad that director Riccardo Freda had his name removed from the film.

That’s pretty much all anyone really knows about the film. Forever lumped in with the more terrible gialli out there, Freda’s film has the reputation of being a low-logic, low-action thriller with a far too convoluted narrative. While I won’t bother to point out the irony of people complaining about any of those things in a genre practically built on them, I will say that I don’t think the film deserves to be dumped into the garbage bin of bad giallo films. It most certainly has a massive amount of flaws, probably more than I could list here, but it also has a charming kind of schizophrenia to it and a startlingly dark side that pops out when you expect it the least.

Set in Ireland of all places, THE IGUANA WITH THE TONGUE OF FIRE concerns Sobiesky, a Swiss Ambassador staying in Dublin with his wife (a bitter drunk and drug addict), his stepson Marc (who is distanced from the family but not their money) and his beautiful daughter Helen (a nightclub hopping, 70s chic party girl). A minor inconvenience occurs when the dead body of a woman is discovered in the trunk of their car. I say “minor inconvenience” because Sobiesky and his family have diplomatic immunity. This doesn’t quite faze the local cops though. They want to find out who committed the murder no matter what, even more so when Sobiesky’s mistress is found dead a few days later. The Inspector in charge contacts an ex-cop named Norton to figure out who is responsible for the killings. Retired after his rough-nosed police tactics caused a man in custody to blow his brains out, the Inspector thinks Norton is the kind of no-nonsense cop he needs, especially since he isn’t a cop at all, a nice workaround for all that pesky diplomatic immunity horesehit.

Norton immediately targets Helen, engaging in a tawdry sexual relationship with her. He questions Mandel, the chauffeur suffering from chronic conjunctivitis, a medical condition that requires him to wear sunglasses for most of the day, and even gains the trust of Sobiesky’s wife. Nothing gives. More worryingly, the killer has begun to target Norton’s family (the good Irish cop lives with his elderly, Agatha Christie-obsessed mother and his young, barely teenage daughter), even decapitating their cat and putting the body in the refrigerator. What an asshole. But with no motive, no eyewitnesses and no clues, how long will it be before the killer strikes again?

Well, let’s see what we have here. The plot, as you can tell, is rife with potential. Very few giallo films bother to go near the more popular conventions of the political thriller and sadly, THE IGUANA WITH THE TONGUE OF FIRE doesn't either. Despite nearly all the possible suspects being from the Sobiesky family, the idea of diplomatic immunity is really only used as a vehicle for Norton’s existence in the plot. We never find out why Sobiesky is in Ireland, what kind of connection the woman in the trunk had to any of the family members or even why any one of these people would commit murder in the first place. Once Norton enters the scene, it becomes his film and the more interesting avenues of exploration into the carefully guarded walls of the Sobiesky family are all but abandoned. Worse, this abandonment means that the mystery behind the narrative actually has to solve itself.

I’m not joking. If the killer never shows up at Norton’s home at the end of the film, the mystery never gets solved. Throughout the entire film, Norton makes no headway in the case. He is either denied information from Sobiesky or is presented with characters that are clearly incapable of being the killer. The closest thing the film has to a proper suspect is Mandel, but again, Mandel is quickly dismissed as a prime suspect for reasons that are never made clear and then ends up dying while on a phone call with Norton, during which he says “I know who the killer is but I will not tell you”. Have you ever seen a mystery film not cooperate with its main character? Seriously, this film gives Norton nothing to work with and consequently has to just give him the answer in the form of the killer who, in order for this to work, has to act completely out of character and target people whose existence in the narrative does not affect them at all. In fact, once we learn the reason why the murders have been taking place, the attack on Norton’s family becomes a mystery all its own. It simply doesn’t make sense. It’s just there because the film needs to end.

So this movie is bad, right? Strangely enough, no. No, it isn’t. I mean, it certainly isn’t well written and the bad dubbing sucks any potential from the performances (even though the film is set in Ireland, only Luigi Pistilli’s Norton is dubbed with an Irish accent, and a bad one at that; 99% of all the other characters are dubbed with English accents and Sobiesky’s wife is strangely dubbed with an almost Russian accent), but the tone of this film is so all over the place that it is endlessly watchable. We go from nicely photographed scenes of people talking to slasher film style scenes of people having acid tossed in their faces before their throats are slit wide open in Fulci-esque close-up, replete with Las Vegas fountain gluts of blood. A lovely scene of two people having a lover’s chat swiftly cuts to a flashback of Norton trying to stop a man from shooting himself in the head but failing. This scene, by the way, is repeated at least three times and only gets funnier with each repetition, with varying levels of brain matter hitting the wall and longer takes of Pistilli pretending to run in slow motion.

At one point Norton’s daughter chides her grandmother for not wearing her glasses, telling her that “you know you don’t hear well when you’re not wearing your glasses”. Norton enters a hotel and asks for Helen only to be told that she’s at the bar. Norton asks the clerk for a piece of paper and jots down a note, telling the clerk to give it to Helen, but then immediately walks off to find her in the bar, leaving us to wonder why the hell he wrote the note in the first place. Norton has a three minute scuffle with two men in a room so dark you can’t see anything, but you do get to enjoy the cacophonous pleasure of breaking furniture, shattering glass and comic book style WHAP! sounds. When Norton gets a gash on the back of his head sewn up by a doctor, we get to see the procedure (naturally) in queasy close-up, but then notice that the bandage has mysteriously moved to the back of his neck in the very next shot, presumably because Pistilli didn’t want to shave a patch of hair off his head. And while all the head shots, slit throats and softcore sex scenes are going on, there’s this limp dick mystery angle with characters all behaving strangely whenever Freda needs them to and constant violin screeches on the soundtrack whenever Mandel pulls out his sunglasses for the umpteenth goddamn time. The whole thing is a tonal and directorial mess, resolving itself in an absolutely brutal, borderline comedic, exploitation slice of heaven attack on Norton’s family with a killer just throttling the absolute shit out of an old woman, slamming her head repeatedly against a sink, while Norton’s barely-a-teen daughter stumbles around in the background topless. You just sit there thinking “what the fuck am I watching?” 

Is THE IGUANA WITH THE TONGUE OF FIRE a bad film? Nope. Is it a good film? Nope. Is it entertaining, disturbing, over-the-top melodramatic and a total bucket of absurdity? You’re damn right it is and that’s why I always recommend the film to anyone who just wants to watch a stupid but effective piece of European exploitation. You won’t be intellectual stimulated. You won’t be knocked on your ass by intricate plotting and narrative ingenuity. You will however find yourself scratching your head and slapping your knee multiple times, probably at the same time, while grinning like an idiot because of all the weirdness on screen. Freda might have failed at delivering a tough, serious thriller, but he did manage to give us one hell of a weirdly entertaining flick.