"Only a wild animal could kill someone like that. You'd better stay in the house."
A year after the accident that claimed her husband's life, former nude model Gloria Manzi (Serena Grandi) goes back to work as Editor In Chief of popular mens' magazine Pussycat. But her return is quickly marred when a killer strikes her models. After killing his victims, the murderer poses their bodies in front of posters of Gloria and mails them to her as threats. Someone is clearly out to frighten Gloria but could she be the next victim? And who could the killer be? Perhaps it's her ex-boyfriend, Alex (George Eastman) who has mysteriously re-appeared in her life or Mark (Karl Zinny), the pervy neighbor kid who spies on Gloria through a telescope from his wheelchair. Or perhaps someone is killing cover girls knowing that the publicity will sell more magazines. Inspector Corsi (Lino Salemme) is on the case, but can he stop the killer before he can kill Gloria?
Director Lamberto Bava has said that Delerium: Photos of Gioia (not to be confused with Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion) is made up of a bunch of ideas that he's always wanted to try. And we really get that impression because it moves from one outrageous set piece to another, with a plot that takes a back seat to creative murders, optical effects, and a lot of nudity. He's the kind of more-is-more director who throws everything at the wall and hopes that something will stick. Luckily for us, some of it did. Even if the resolution is weak, the first two murders are fascinating to watch and some of the details of the killers' method are interesting.
- In the original Italian version, the main character's name is Gioia, but for the English dub, it was changed to Gloria. I have no idea why they didn't also change it in the title.
- For those first two murders, Lamberto gives the traditional point of view shot a unique twist. His thinking was that if the killer is insane, his perception might be skewed and that, in order to kill someone, he would have to dehumanize them first. So we see the victims through the killers eyes as monsters - a woman with a giant eyeball for a head and a woman with an insect face.
- The pulsing colors, shifting from rich red to blue before each murder, evokes the cinematography of Lamberto's mentors. Specifically, Dario Argento's Susperia and Lamberto's father Mario's Blood and Black Lace.
- To our modern eyes, the makeup at the end of the movie may make the killer look like Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight.
What the Hell Am I Watching?
Is the three-woman naked photo shoot in Gloria's pool all that shocking? Maybe not, but it's certainly an attention-getting way to open the film.
Gloria has a paranoid nightmare where Mark gets into her bedroom and attacks her with a flashlight. And I don't mean hitting her with it.
Later (in real life) Mark visits his dead girlfriend, Cinzia, at the cemetery. Have a look at her tombstone and you'll notice that she has no last name.
It's a movie about rich, powerful women who dress in furs, broad-shouldered gowns, and chunky jewelry like Joan Crawford or the cast of Dynasty. But to my eyes the real fashion hero of this movie is Flora's assistant (I'm not sure of the actress's name) who sports a youthful, modern outfit and a rockin' Belinda Carlisle haircut in one of her two scenes. Truly, truly, truly outrageous!
You're probably wondering, since this is a Lamberto Bava movie, if he used the color yellow to connect people and events to the killer like he did with Blade In the Dark and You'll Die At Midnight. The answer is yes and no. But mostly no. Two of the murder locations (Gloria's patio and the department store) feature prominent yellow accents, the killer sends photos in gold envelopes, and the killer and some (but not all) of the victims appear in yellow. But other murder locations and people involved aren't connected with yellow and some yellow settings, clothes, and props (like Mark's flowers and bedroom and Alex's sweater) have no connection to the murderer. Due to this inconsistency, I'm left to deduce that there's no color motif in Delerium: Photos of Gioia.