So Sweet... So Perverse



So Sweet... So Perverse

"Danger brings out the best in a man."

Jean Reynaud (Jean-Louise Trintigant) is bored with his upper-class Parisian life – bored with his job, bored with his wife, Danielle (Erika Blanc), bored with his mistress, and even his hobbies fail to challenge him. So when he hears his beautiful blonde neighbor Nicole (Carroll Baker) getting beaten by her boyfriend, Klaus (Horst Frank) Jean comes to the rescue and runs away with her, thrilled to have some excitement back in his life. But is Nicole the innocent victim she appears to be or is she the bait in a deadly trap? Jean soon finds that his life is in danger but who is it that wants him dead? And who can he trust? It all turns out to be more adventure than he bargained for.

So Sweet... So Perverse (not to be confused with So Sweet, So Dead) isn't your typical giallo in that it doesn't have a mysterious black-coated killer. Instead, the mystery is in unraveling the complicated con game and figuring out who is behind it. It's a sexy (rather than scary) giallo and the script is full of swanning, melodramatic dialogue and overwrought romantic proclamations. Carroll Baker gives the standout performance in a role that is custom-fit for her talents, alternating between demure, innocent victim and cold-blooded vixen.

  • Jean-Louis Trintigant is a French acting legend who regained the public's attention just last year when his movie Amour was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
  • So Sweet... So Perverse is the second of three Lenzi-Baker collaborations. The trilogy also includes 1969's Paranoia (a.k.a. Orgasmo) and 1970's A Quiet Place To Kill which, technically, is not a giallo due to a lack of mystery in the plot.
  • Co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi would go on to become one of the greatest screenwriters in the world of giallo, creating such films as The Case of the Bloody Iris, Death Walks at Midnight, and Torso.
 What the Hell Am I Watching?

Early in the movie, we're treated to a crazy psychedelic flashback/dream sequence, rendered in bold colors and wild, spinning camera moves. The short segment really stands out in what is otherwise a conservatively-shot film and it presages the more innovative work of both Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento.

Danielle throws a fancy cocktail party for the Paris elite and, for some reason, invites a stripper as the entertainment. She's quick to show off the goods. How was this a good idea?

Apparently in France, mistresses can claim their lovers' inheritances. Seriously? Even though we're talking about the French, I find it a little hard to believe.

Fashion Moment

As the most dynamic and interesting character, Nicole gets all the best clothes. She wears this dress early in the movie and it really illustrates her fragile emotional state well – agitated, confused, and blue.

  

Later, at the cocktail party, things turn on their heads as Danielle glams it up, dripping in diamonds and bold red sequins...


... while Nicole shows up in a frumpy pantsuit that looks like bad upholstery.


 That's the stripper in the background, by the way, wearing only a pink boa, bikini bottoms, and butterfly pasties.




Five Dolls For an August Moon



Five Dolls For an August Moon
"Only murderers kill."

Wealthy industrialist George Stark (Teodoro Corrá) has invited friends to his remote island estate for a reunion and the group includes Professor Fritz Farrell (William Berger), who has just developed an innovative new formula for an industrial resin. But while the other guests fall over themselves to invest, Fritz isn't taking any offers. When the party becomes stranded on the island and people start turning up dead, it's clear that someone is willing to kill for the money or the formula – or both.  Could it be the Professor's wife, Trudy (Ira Von Fürstenberg) who is having an affair with George's wife, Jill (Edith Meloni)? Or perhaps it's Nick Cheney (Maurice Poli) and his wife Marie (Edwige Fenech), who aren't averse to using their open relationship to get what they want. A killer is on the loose and no one is safe!

Five Dolls For an August Moon (not to be confused with Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll) is based on Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. It's a solid formula worthy of repetition but, alas, Mario Bava brings little innovation to his version. It's not particularly sexy or bloody and we seldom see the kills - just people discovering the bodies, which is sadly anticlimactic. None of the characters show any passion in their greed and, to be honest, the storyline with the secret formula is kind of dull. If you're interested in a much better version of the same story, I recommend Nine Guests For a Crime. What Five Dolls does have, though, is style to burn. The clothes and the sets and the swanky modern opulence of the movie are undeniable. I like to think of Five Dolls, with its large cast and complex criss-cross of motives as Bava's warmup for his next film, the much better Bay of Blood.
  • This movie was released in Italy on Valentine's Day 1970.
  • Rumor has it that the production was so rushed that Bava started shooting three days after agreeing to direct. The whole shoot took 19 days.
  • This was Edwige Fenech's first giallo.
What the Hell Am I Watching?

Perhaps the coolest thing in the movie is that the guests decide to store the dead bodies in the kitchen's meat freezer. So we're repeatedly treated to the sight of bloody bodies in plastic bags slowly filling up the crowded little room over the course of the film.

With all the similar-looking faces and a lack of contrasting characterization, it gets a little confusing telling people apart. Adding to the confusion: there's a character called Jack and a different character called Jaques.

Pentathol bullets? Is that a thing? Is that even possible?

Fashion Moment

This is the real reason to watch the movie. Crazy costumes abound, with psychedelic gowns, foppish ascots, gold lamé bell-bottoms, and unbuttoned satin disco shirts billowing in the breeze. One of my favorites is this strange white bikini, modeled by Edwige Fenech.


Also, the beautiful cliff-side house itself, with sleek modern architecture contrasts nicely with its rocky surroundings.



Naked Girl Killed In A Park



Naked Girl Killed In a Park

Johann Wallenberger, a wealthy industrialist, emerges from the haunted house ride at a Madrid amusement park dead and missing a bag of cash. His insurance company is suspicious, of course, so they assign the case to their top investigator, playboy detective Chris Buyer (Robert Hoffman). Chris goes undercover by starting a relationship with Wallenberger's youngest daughter, Catherine (Pilar Velasquez) and she soon takes him home to meet her outspoken sister Barbara (Patrizia Adiutori) and her mother, Magda (Irina Demick). But Chris finds more than he bargained for as the fragile Catherine takes ill, hot-blooded Barbara seduces him, and Magda loses her grip on reality in the wake of her husband's suspicious death. Before long, more killings occur – could they be covering up a blackmail scheme? Or are long-held grudges finally coming due? Could the killer be Gunther (Howard Ross), the creepy caretaker or Magda herself? Or perhaps Chris's rival investigator at the insurance company is sabotaging his reputation?

The title Naked Girl Killed In a Park (not to be confused with Naked You Die) has a sensational newspaper-headline urgency, but the story hits all the standard giallo beats. It does have three endings, though. About an hour in you'll say "boy, they wrapped that up quicker than usual" and then discover that there are still questions to answer. Then there's a twist and a killer is named. Then that killer is murdered and the real mastermind is dispatched in a satisfyingly gruesome fashion.

  • The title is sort of accurate. A naked girl is found in a garden on the grounds of the Wallenberger estate - not a public park as the title suggests. Johann's body was found fully clothed in an amusement park.
  • You may remember Adolfo Celi (Inspector Huber) from Who Saw Her Die? or as Largo in Thunderball.
  • The same year he composed the score to Naked Girl Killed In a Park, Carlo Savina conducted the recording sessions for Nino Rota's Oscar-winning soundtrack to The Godfather.
What the Hell Am I Watching?

 Shortly after they meet, Chris takes Catherine on a date to the amusement park. Yes, the same amusement park where her father was found murdered only days before. Way to be sensitive, Chris.

Fashion Moment

Just because she's in mourning doesn't mean Magda can't dress a little flashy. Check out this sparkly sequined jumpsuit.



And this sexy, backless evening gown.



Murder By Music



Murder By Music

"Killed her? I hardly knew her!"

Navy officer Richard Milford (Brett Halsey) has returned to London to visit his sister Catherine, but he is shocked to discover that she is dead, having jumped from the window of her flat – the same way her music professor killed himself the day before. Though the police label these as unrelated suicides, Catherine's classmate Helen (Marilü Tolo) believes it was murder and helps Richard to investigate. Before long their investigation puts them in the middle of a turf war between a Romanian street thug and a hippie cult leader. The clues lead to a drug den, a psychedelic nightclub called The Mousehole, a double-crossing gun moll, and a mysterious, unpublished 18th century musical composition called "The Trumpets of the Apocalypse."  Were these suspicious deaths really suicides? And if not, how were the murders committed?

Murder By Music goes by many names and you'll find it on YouTube under the title Perversion Story (though it should not be confused for Lucio Fulci's giallo Una Sull'altra, which also goes by the name Perversion Story and was released the same year).  The movie meanders quite a bit and more effort is put into getting Richard into and out of street fights than into progressing the mystery.  As a document of late-60's culture, though, it's interesting to see how the movie plays off audiences' fears of the hippie counterculture and the dangers of psychedelic drugs, and depicts flower-child characters as the broadest of caricatures.

  • Director Julio Buchs is most famous for his Westerns, including A Bullet For Sandoval (starring the great Ernest Borgnine), which was released the same year as Murder By Music.
  • The score by Gianni Ferrio is a strange mix of noir-style saxaphone-and-vibes jazz music and high-energy Hammond-organ-based psych rock. There's also a bit of Morricone-esque free-rhythm bop in there, but somehow it all works. Ferrio would go on to score such notable gialli as Puzzle, The Bloodstained Butterfly, and Death Walks at Midnight
  • Richard keeps saying that the creepy organ grinder is playing a hurdy-gurdy when, in fact, he is cranking a simple music box.
  • Note the two harps at Professor Stone's house. And we get a shot of the action framed through the strings, just like in Blood and Black Lace.
  • Not to give too much away, but the 3rd act reveal of how the deaths occurred reminds me of a similar device in Crimes of the Black Cat. And it also presages The Ring.
What the Hell am I Watching?

Early in the investigation, Richard starts a fight at The Mousehole and ends up taking on a whole club full of (supposedly non-violent) hippies.  It's about 200-to-one. At this point we discover that Richard is either very brave or very stupid.

About halfway through the film, the killer breaks into Helen's house, chloroforms her, and rifles through her things. She doesn't feel the need to mention this until days later.

Fashion Moment

It's swinging London, baby!  And it looks like the 60's threw up all over this movie.