Believe it or not, I don’t like making best/worst statements, and yet… “Bad Inclination”
is the dumbest giallo I’ve seen yet (see, I even had to qualify that statement). I won’t snark on how bad an idea it is to try to recreate, in 2003, the style and atmosphere of a subgenre that was on its last legs two decades prior to the penning of the script–instead I’ll restrict myself to the Facts Of The Case. All the characters just Say Words and Do Stuff and nothing makes any damn sense in a manner that borders on absurdist comedy, yet never quite achieves this level of glorious failure. This movie seems to have been structured using the card deck from some Italo-thriller version of “Clue”
–“faded lesbian superstar in the shower with the set-square!” What maybe
could have been a fun little homage to the fabulous films of yesteryear just turns into a mishmash of bad ideas, bad execution, and bad acting. What a mess.
Don’t think of these as SPOILERS – think of this as a five-minute reading investment on your part, saving you from ninety minutes of Just Plain Bad.
The movie opens with a standard setpiece murder–a woman is alone in her apartment, chopping ingredients for a stew with a cleaver and a mezzaluna (hint: either of these would make an excellent weapon), but the killer employs an architect’s set-square tool to stab her in the belly. Now, I’m no forensic scientist, but speaking as someone who has used a set-square in the past–let’s just say that while it might leave a nasty bruise, it’s not going to slice directly through a human abdomen causing instant and grisly death. My suspension of disbelief is challenged already, and we’re not five minutes into this blasted thing.
Better yet, when the Italian police show up to investigate, the following dialogue exchange occurs:
Detective 1: “I wonder why the killer used a set-square?”
Detective 2: “It’s a lethal weapon–if used by an expert, there is no escape.”
Who the hell is a SET SQUARE EXPERT? An archininja? A ninjatecht??? Frankly, there IS an escape from a set-square, but it involves rolling slightly to the left or right, which, due to the subpar nature of the FX work, was apparently UNPOSSIBLE for this first victim.
The apartment building is basically the House of Scheming Women, populated entirely by ladies with selfish and totally evil motives. No one is too upset by the murder, and in fact the event sets the braincogs working for several of the neighbors. Set-square sales in Rome skyrocket.
Florinda Bolkan stars as an artist working on a series of ghoulish and not-very-well-executed paintings glamorizing famous murders. If you guessed that there was a set-square painting, you’d be right–+10 points for reading this far!
Now, I’m delighted to see Ms. Bolkan get work but… poor Florinda appears to be floundering, trying her best with a lame script and totally undirected. Also, the organ grinder’s monkey vest she wears in several scenes is so dreadful compared to her amazingly chic outfits in “Lizard in a Woman’s Skin.”
In a plot twist so obvious that you can see it heading at you like a freight train over a Texas desert, the artist hires her junkie former student (TRUE FACT: Most art students do end up as dissolute junkie prostitutes–I BEAT THE ODDS!) to euthanize her but winds up having the junkie off her maid. Interestingly, said junkie former student has enough free cash to invest in collagen lip injections, and yet is homeless. PRIORITIES, young lady, priorities!
Lip collagen is a theme in this film, as it appears that all of the actresses save Florinda Bolkan have indulged in a bit too much of this bee-stung enhancement, pulling their lips up in a fishy-rabbity fashion that this reviewer finds distracting and distasteful. Lip collagen = REJECTED.
I really don’t want to love the character of the faded lesbian singing starlet that lives in the House of Scheming Women and yet… I do. Maybe it’s because she is NEVER NOT FABULOUS, and I can heartily endorse her effort. Seriously–girlfriend sleeps in a corset. THAT is dedication. Also, she’s batshit crazy and walks a cat on a leash. In some small way, she is living the dream except… you know, a has-been in a never-was movie. Other than that–it’s a sound and excellent lifestyle. She’s even polite to the viewer, making sure to turn her partners’ torsos towards the camera in order to provide better ogling opportunities. +10! She’s so outlandish that even her schoolteacher-cum-hooker neighbor tells her she looks like a tart. I *do* question why she’s so hung up on her philandering manager/girlfriend, though, who looks a little more like Rachel Ray than I’m ready to endorse. When she finally winds up offing her galpal with a set-square, I know I was on her side!
The one young male character in the film, an architect with SERIOUS Mommy issues, is identified as the prime suspect and is eventually arrested, much to the artist’s and the starlet’s delight. His capture is due in no small part to the fact that his AWESOME KIDDY MURDER ART is uncovered in a psychologist’s stash. Let’s just take a moment to linger on that, shall we? Man, I love awesome kiddy murder art in movies. I’m adding that to the list of “tropes I can’t get enough of.”
The lady detective Gabriella is not satisfied with this solution, though, and continues to investigate. Web searches in Italy are apparently a LOT easier than the ones we do over here, because it takes her 3 clicks to find the correct escort service website she needs to unearth a vital clue.
Then–a discussion with her aunt leads to a critical a-ha moment:
Aunt: “Somewhere or other, I read that men’s victims are women they never had anything to do with, while for female murderers, it is the opposite.”
NO! NOT EXACTLY AT ALL! Wrong, fail, incorrect &c! Holy crap–one should NEVER trust the Italian police. It’s so awesome that the above statement basically fails to take into account any man who ever killed his wife. If this movie is to be believed, Italian justice is fucked.
Naturally, the two wicked women are caught due in no small part to Gabriella’s Women’s Intuition and get their come-uppance but then… the architect is released. Now, if you’re counting the way I’m counting, that’s two solved murders and ONE UNSOLVED MURDER. Tack on a coda ending making it clear that a killer is still on the loose aaaaaand FIN.
Franco Nero shows up playing the town looney in footage SO VALUABLE it’s used twice (ohhhhh Django, how the mighty have fallen). I kind of like the expressions on the reporters around him–“What is that spaghetti western star doing with newspapers tacked onto him?” There’s really no purpose for his scenes except for slapping Nero’s name on the promotional materials for the movie.
If gialli are the triumph of style over substance, this film sinks under the weight of its own ineptitude. With a cleaner script and under better direction, this could have been not-bad as an homage with winkwink/nudgenudge humorous undertones. Something could have been made of the fact that every lead character is female but… no–not so much. There’s also some kind of commentary on the media woven in, but the movie drowns in its own dumbness long before making any kind of coherent statement.
Dear readers, I have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding a prince of a movie. Such is my love for you all that I’m warning you away from this little number (it comes in a DVD three-pack with the totally awesome “Faceless” and the hypnotically, amazingly bad “Witchery”).
View a gallery of stills from “Bad Inclination” on Flickr.