Jane is tormented by her mother’s murder when she was a child, by a recent car crash that claimed her unborn child, and by terrifying nightmares of a blue-eyed knife-wielding killer. Her husband recommends vitamins, her sister recommends psychotherapy, and her neighbor recommends participation in a Black Mass.
The first half of the movie, in which Jane is stalked by a silent blue-eyed man who may or may not be a figment of her imagination, is better than the second half, after she starts to participate in a Satanic cult’s ritual orgies and plunges deeper into insanity. But it’s still a solidly tense and unsettling movie that shifts between dream and reality, keeping the viewer off balance and delightfully confused. Though the director and most of the actors worked in the giallo genre, this is far more gothic than giallo in tone, with its dreams, mysterious castle, and dark occult activities. The movie wraps up like a giallo, though, a little too neatly, with the dastardly plot exposed; it would have been a more satisfying film if things had been left a bit more mysterious and unexplained.
Female students at an Italian university are stalked by a mysterious killer. Four of them go to a secluded villa to escape the tension and terror in the city, but (surprise!) the terror follows them.
This movie has it all: Renaissance art history, bell bottoms, miniskirts, Mini Coopers, a hippie drug party, a masked strangler/slasher (five years before and an ocean away from “Halloween”), Technicolor blood, and lots of boobs. The first half is classic “giallo”: there are murders, and clues, and all the clues point to … well, pretty much all the men around the university. When the three friends (plus one, who arrives later) decamp to the countryside, we get a brief sex farce interlude, with the local yokels comically enamored of the sexy urban ladies, some lesbian interludes, and some nude sunbathing. But the last thirty minutes are truly harrowing, as the “final girl” first tries to keep her presence hidden from the slasher, then tries to signal for help in the town, and finally makes a break for it once the slasher’s identity is established.
Giallo movies tend to be a hot mess of blood and sex and plot holes, and this is no exception; but if you take a deep breath and go along for the ride, it’s a great ride, especially the last half hour.
This movie wasn’t streaming on any of the premium platforms (pity!), but I found it on YouTube as a not-bad dubbed movie with a mix of good and bad (mostly bad …) subtitles. My Italian isn’t good (my only successful transaction was negotiating an extra night at a pensione in Florence on my honeymoon about 20 years ago), but my English is good enough to know that there was something seriously amiss in some of the dialogue. Turn on the subtitles for the lecture on Renaissance art at the beginning (there’s actually some good foreshadowing there), and when the doctor is driving with the local woman in his (beautiful!) VW bug, but otherwise ride along with the dubbing and don’t look too closely at anyone’s mouths.