by oliver craner

Thursday, February 26, 2009

posted by oc  # 3:26 AM

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Watched Death Laid an Egg and Death Smiled at Murder.

I definitely enjoyed looking at Death Laid an Egg. I mean, this would've been a dour-paced and rather hollow thriller had Giulio Questi not spliced the screen with attractive, garish Pop Art strokes, or made the central conceit a silly absurdist stunt (an unethical proto-battery hen farm) that provides many attractive photo ops and over-spilling metaphors. No Django Kill!, to be sure, but still skittish and seedy enough to distinguish itself, and enriched by the 60s-deluxe cinematography and cut-to-measure soundtrack (Morricone avant-slasher atonality and a Stelvio Cipriani Easy Listening breeze...).

Death Laid an Egg starlet Ewa Aulin links it to Death Smiled at Murder, and she steals both (first from Jean-Louis Trintignant and then Klaus Kinski, a double coup de grace). I fell madly in love with this piece of Joe D'amato crap: a gory and ludicrous and alluring Hammer-style romp that is one of a tiny fistful of his films I'd recommend to friends. Ewa is Greta, a rootless and sexually incontinent waif with an obscure, tragic past. She dies and is re-animated by Mad Dr Sturges –- that is, Mad Dr. Kinski, flailing around in mock anguish, caught by thwarted desire -- so that she can go and kill some totally deserving creeps, psychos and suckers (that is, the rest of the cast).

I'm not really giving away plot details here because there is no plot to speak of and the film makes less sense than your normal Eurosleaze abomination. In the end, it's largely about Ewa's face: those big saucer-sized, cocaine-rush eyes, that keep and reveal secrets simultaneously, a rare sexual ability -- or am I actually talking about the acute and credible slippage between addled, wild nymph and gruesome Death Mask, crushing Eurolez clasp to face-fucking ghoul?? She nails this role, her second-to-last film, without actually trying anything spectacular, so this vivid erotic malice is miraculous. (Who knows what happened next? You suspect sensible Swedish decline into marital harmony, domestic bliss, with curious lacuna regarding past cinematic glory.)

It's an unhinged thing as always: thick with atmosphere, punctured by dumb shocks, like that Tenebrae knife stabbing wildly at white linen. When the Greta Ghoul throws a rabied cat into the face of her Rhys Ifans-a-like stalking ex-lover, and it scratches his eyeballs out in obscene bloody detail - well, you can only sit back and applaud this sordid and soulful scene of mad cruelty. (Jess Franco would envy this delight, and it's certain he saw it. They all watched and worked with each other, these auteurs: D'amato shot big parts of ...Solange?, for example; or Fulci and Bava on the 60s Peplum; or, say, a letter Sergio Leone wrote to Ruggero Deodato after Cannibal Holocaust: "Dear Ruggero, what a movie! The second part is a masterpiece of cinematographic realism, but everything seems so real that I think you will get in trouble with all the world!")

When the police inspector finally admits, "I begin to doubt I will ever solve this mystery. Somehow it just doesn't add up" – you are screaming at the screen: "Of course it doesn't add up! You're in the savage, senseless world of Joe D'amato, you gormless fool!! Do you even know where you are?"

La Morte Ha Fatto L'uovo (Giulio Questi, 1968)

La Morte Ha Sorriso All'assassino
(Joe D'Amato, 1973)

posted by oc  # 8:49 AM

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