Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Giallo Journeys: The Evil Eye

Welcome boys and girls, one and all to Day 2 of Giallo Journeys. It seems only fitting and fair we watch one of the Godfather of Giallo films brought to us by director/screenwriter/SFX artist and cinematographer of the golden age of Italian horror himself, Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Hercules in the Haunted World, Erik the Conqueror, Blood and Black Lace, Kill Baby, Kill, A Gunman called Nebraska, Bay of Blood and Baron Blood).  Today's feature film almost feels like Bava's nod to Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes as a young girl rambles to Rome and witness a murder that the police do not believe since they cannot find a body.  Reputed as the first Giallo film in existence, this is The Girl Who Knew Too Much a.k.a Incubus a.k.a. The Evil Eye a.k.a. Obsession diabolique a.k.a. Evil Eye.

You shouldn't do "THAT" in Rome!

Boy it has been a while since we had a good collection of alternative titles, right?

Our story centers around a young girl Nora (Leticia Roman of Pirates of Tortuga, Evil Eye, The Reunion, A Sentimental Attempt, The Gentlemen, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. And To Die in Paris), who flew in to Rome to visit her dying aunt one last time and maybe get some shopping in as well. Okay, I added that last part. Nora's auntie is being cared for by a Dr. Bassi (John Saxon of Gunsmoke, Enter the Dragon, Black Christmas, Mitchell, The Bees, Beyond Evil, Cannibal Apocalypse, Fantasy Island, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dynasty, Hands of Steel, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Death House and Falcon Crest) at the first night of Nora's visit her aunt dies in the night and Nora goes to the hospital to tell Dr. Bassi...alone...in the night of a foreign country. Predictably she is mugged and knocked out in the Piazza di Spagna.


She wakes in time to see the body of a dead woman slumped on the ground by her and a bearded chap pulling a knife out of her back. Nora flees to the hospital and makes her report to the cops. They do a cursory look about that area but find no body, ergo the girl is imagining things, is a ditz or whatever stereotype you love about a female in distress. Later after ample ridicule, Nora is visiting in the cemetery with her aunt's friend Laura (Valentina Cortese of The Barefoot Contessa Oh, Grandmother's Dead, Give Her the Moon, The Assassination of Trotsky, Day for Night, Ring of Darkness and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) who lives in the Piazza and tells Nora she can house sit for her as Laura has vacation time coming.  Ace journalist Landini (Dante DiPaolo of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Evil Eye, Blood and Black Lace, Sweet Charity and Unscripted) seems to be trailing Nora as he is suspect of Nora and the linking to these murders.

Hello.  I'm John Saxon, I'll be your eye candy.

No sooner does house-sitter get comfy, she gets snoopy. Checking the closet and drawers to come across clippings of an Alphabet Killer doing in folk by surname. A, B and C already done in but as she reads further these articles are almost ten years old. A phone call pulls her away from the clippings with a voice saying "D is for Death." Sue Grafton breathes a sigh of relief but Nora is terrified and attempts to get Dr. Bassi on her side to figure out if the murder of the other day is linked to these existing murders. A sadistic game of cat and mouse begins putting Nora right slap bang in the middle of it all.

Who can Nora turn to??? Is she or her new Doctor friend next??

What is so astounding about this is the lighting, tone and music carefully and painstakingly used. It has almost the comedic romp you would get from It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World one minute and next a chord and dimmed lighting to offer dread and impending danger. The hustle and bustle of Rome is fascinating to watch and the rush for cabs is quite funny. This also marks the first horror film John Saxon is ever in as well as the last black and white film Mario Bava does.

Most of Leticia Roman's line are narrative as she just flirts and smiles warmly at the camera but a lot of her dialogue is thought provoking as she truly is the lead in this film. John Saxon comes off charming and mischievous as well. This mixture of romance, comedy, drama and horror provides a wonderful contrast of a movie. 

Dead on my feet.  Sorry.