I Saw a Film!
Being that I’ve had all this arthropod training for years in academia I’m always attracted to films that purport to rely on our joint-legged, exoskeleton-wearing critters as plot points or motifs. Silence of the Lambs and the Death’s Head Sphinx moths, Wasp Women, 400 foot tall mantids, Bee Girls, giant spider webs catching hapless damsels, the many spidermen themselves and huge CGI “spiders” chasing hobbits around and showing off wild multiple sets of chelicerae, etc. I’m always fascinated and amused by the ongoing habit of movie-makers’ delving the zoological well for critters and weird behaviors. Generally speaking the slight resemblance in the films to creatures living or dead is scant as movie-goers really aren’t terribly interested in crap bugs do. And frankly there are no bugs who are paralyzing their own kind (though opposite sex) to pointlessly murder them in fetishistic manner. No amount of waving at the insect or arachnid world is going to make that seem any more horrifying or depraved.
Of course, this film attempts to get across some kind of attachment to spider-hunting wasps and even seems to have video of . . . well, definitely not a tarantula, and absolutely not a tarantula hawk . . . it looks like an orb weaver and a bee actually, having a pitched battle in a little container much like the fight arenas we’d set up as kids for crayfish to fight in. It was always disappointing as crayfish were not very interested in locking claws for us. There is a nice little pink-toed tarantula in a box with cocaine and a particular bit of the plot focuses on the drug trafficking but honestly when you have a film about a maniacal killer doing in absolutely drop-dead gorgeous ladies, one of them a young Barbie Bach, we’re not particularly interested in your coke subplot.
This particular film has a bit of Zatoichi in it (just from the standpoint of the blind man’s massage business), and the final “reveal” isn’t much of one, mainly because I’ve been steeped in the skills of Zatoichi! So, I’m right up giving away this film, sorry about that, but you can’t put a guy in Master Poe type contact lenses, have him rubbing the luscious bodies of amazing women and not have us thinking about him the whole time! Just to sharpen this point a bit further, at least in some parts of the world, the massage giver was often a blind man. The idea, I suppose, was that he wasn’t going to SEE you and so the embarrassment or taboo of showing yourself was spared.
This is an Italian film, and therefor, as was (and maybe still is) the tradition in their film industry, everything is dubbed. Voice acting was separate from acting acting, and I always point out that the amazing Sophia Loren was said to have such a horrible rural accent that she’d have never been an Italian star. Thankfully, no one had to hear her disastrous voice (not that any non-Italian speakers could have cared!). Also, the blood in these films is always the most dramatic crimson color squeezed out of a paint tube. It’s always hilariously red. So red you’re thinking about candy, or wax lips or something. Lastly, the screams of victims in these films is invariably seemingly sourced from the same tape of someone doing a vaguely female, but nearly middling gender roaring howl. Nothing like a girly scream we’re used to hearing in our horror films (or from our own girlfriends when say a spider jumps at them). It does stand right out, and becomes a kind of “Italian film scream”. By the way, have you seen Italian Spiderman on Youtube? Do yourself a huge favor.
The bizarre killer is apparently using a killing method that looks remarkably like a “pithing” technique we used to use on poor frogs in the biology dissecting unit. The method was meant to remove the brain from the body so that the creature could be vivisected. This is apparently the killer’s motive, he wants his victims alive during his Dexter-esque routine. The set up is similar to a hyper-violent (Still not as bad as most things by Miike Takashi) much more recent Korean film in which the fiance of a very driven cop ends up the victim of a ridiculously monstrous killer and must extract his revenge (which ends up being more than just doing the bastard in).
So we’re given a horror film to scare the crap out of our dates, while titillating us with legs and breasts. The formula seems utterly perfect to put the ladies (an excuse for them and us) practically on our laps. Do we owe these horror films for providing impetus for sexy behavior (I mean, the vampire isn’t portrayed as a ladies’ man for nothing) there is also evidence to suggest that scares involve cortisol release and enhanced blood-flow to the extremities, so YES it’s natural to be aroused (throbbing in those regions) by horror (not really the gore, nor the killer, but the general “scare”). You can do your own Google “research” on that.
I suspect the finale of the monster cornered by the hero and rescuing a damsel-in-peril is a sort of final touch on the layer cake of fantasy. We can almost certainly thank the producers for getting our dates hot and bothered on the sofa. Good times.
And it’s Free on Prime, so if you like Italian scares you might really enjoy riffing and using this film for its likely intended purpose. Me, I prefer the creatures to the slashers, but I won’t yuck your yum as the kids say!
Two last tidbits, the soundtrack, a kind of easy jazz horn thing is punctuated with a woman’s sighs. It is really annoying! Secondly, the finale explanation of what happened involves such a simple pop-psychology wrap-up it made me snort. Why bother? Was there some concern in Italy of women making fun of men’s impotence? Don’t do it! Or you might end up with a killer sorta-kinda doing weird bug stuff.