I know my fellow trash cinema fans will empathize with me when I express my frustration at lousy film prints. I don’t mourn grainy, Nth-gen VHS copies, nor do I pat myself on the back for unearthing a copy of some obscurity that looks like it’s been dredged from the bottom of the ocean. Sometimes the only way one can watch a particular title is in a compromised format, and such is life. The thing that grieves me the most is that I feel like I can’t properly appreciate some titles due to crappy prints. In a genre like the giallo, where style leaves substance in a cloud of dust, it’s especially vexing to not get the full, glossy impact of a film.
That having been addressed, I’m not sure that “Amuck!,” also known by the equally lurid title of “Leather and Whips,” would’ve fared much better had I seen the most flawless print in the world. This is a movie that managed to fuck up the perfectly excellent combination of (stunning and lesbonic) Barbara Bouchet and (stunning and predatorially lesbonic) Rosalba Neri engaging in (lesbonically) mysterious intrigue set against the backdrop of (stunning but lacking in a sexual orientation on account of its being a city) Venice.
“Prepare to get hurt. Real bad. In the brain.”
In the same way that the press materials for “Last House on the Left” urged the viewer to repeat it’s only a movie, I urge you to append each sentence of the following review with it’s actually pretty boring.
Barbara Bouchet plays Greta, a young woman working as a secretary to an American author Richard Stuart (Farley Granger) who lives in a stately Venetian mansion with his wife Eleanora (Rosalba Neri). As it turns out, Greta is trying to track down the whereabouts of her lover Sally, who was last seen in the employ of the Stuarts. The Stuarts are one swinging duo, hosting drunken parties that include the viewing of pornographic films, and it becomes clear early on that their lecherous activities have an even darker side.
“But Tenebrous,” you may rightly ask, “how can you bag on a movie that offers up a delectable lesbian scene with two fully-nude, fully-gorgeous actresses within its first ten minutes of screen time?” Well, imaginary enquirer, for an admittedly-titillating five minutes of steamy sex, one has to slog through a mystery plot that one does not care about (if you saw this and you say you care, you are a filthy liar and beneath my contempt) that commits the following giallo sins:
- Dishwater-dull soundtrack. Seriously, I’m here for the sounds and the scenery–ENTERTAIN ME, MUSIC MAKER!
- Duck-hunting sequence that has almost no music behind it: a jammed gun has never created less cinematic tension. Watching an eight-year-old play the Nintendo game is a nailbiter in comparison.
- Quicksand. Fuck quicksand as a plot device–fuck it right in the ass.
- Psychic subplot that appears in one scene midway through the movie, never to be spoken of again. That’s just insulting.
- NO leather and NO whips. Don’t think I wouldn’t notice that shit, title-writing jerk.
I hate the fact that I’m making this movie look so much better than it is.
Where Sergio Martino would have gone full-on crazy with the material, adding swooping camerawork and a lushly romantic score while eliciting downright-perspiring performances from his leads, director Silvio Amadio takes a rather direct approach, creating a movie that leaves the viewer praying for the next nugget of naughtiness. “Amuck!” is just short of dire–were it not for the erotic sequences, this movie would be like an unbuttered English muffin.
“Hahahah–can you believe that all those jackasses are going to watch this movie now? It’s like WE WIN!”
I just couldn’t manage to care about this movie, and kept hoping that its piles of wacky material might coalesce into some sort of sleazy wonderfulness. While Ms. Neri brings it–as she always does–in the form of arched eyebrows, sinister cigarette-smoking, and plush sexiness, her presence doesn’t redeem this lackluster thriller, which is characterized in large part by its general air of non-inspiration. Bland camerawork, sleepwalking performances, and a criminal lack of suspense undermine what tawdry tingles this film has to offer.