Mary Poppins Returns
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Isn't nearly as visionary as the best examples of the giallo form.
Black Belly of the Tarantula is an above-average giallo, nicely shot and edited and solidly entertaining from start to finish. What really sets it apart though is the unusually strong cast list, headed by a young Giancarlo Giannini as the police inspector hunting down the obligatory serial slasher of beautiful young women; Stefania Sandrelli plays his wife. Genre fans will recognise Rossella Falk, and anyone who's seen The House with Laughing Windows will have had a hard time trying to forget Eugene Walter. The film also features not one but two Bond Girls: Claudine Auger (Thunderball) and Barbara Bach (The Spy Who Loved Me) - three if you count Barbara Bouchet, who played Miss Moneypenny in the original Casino Royale!
Despite all the Italian films I have seen, this is my first giallo. Giannini offfers a nice introduction to the genre.
Black Belly of the Tarantula is both a great thriller in its own right and surely one of the best entries in the Giallo cycle. The film is reminiscent of several like it, but this one is the most cerebral and most sadistic Giallo I've seen. The modus operandi of the killer at the centre of the story involves jabbing his victim with a poison laced needle which induces paralysis. He then proceeds to gut them while they're still alive and unable to do anything about it! Director Paolo Cavara seems to realise just how malicious this plot is, and so the film is not gratuitous. The reliance on the idea behind the murders is far more shocking than any amount of gore; so it doesn't matter that there isn't a lot of the red stuff. Typically, the film works from an extremely convoluted plot which sees a woman, who is also a member of a private health club, become the victim of blackmail. Around the same time; dead bodies start piling up and our hero; an insecure police detective by the name of Tellini learns that the murders are done in the style of the black wasp killing a tarantula...
As ever with Giallo, the film isn't particularly easy to follow; as there's so much going on that it's easy to miss one or two key plot elements. This is, however, far better than having too little going on and unlike many Giallo's, at least this one mostly resolves everything by the conclusion. There's a very potent stream of sleaze running throughout the film also; as if the killer's methods weren't enough on their own. The film features plenty of sex, and it will please some to learn that many of the murders are depicted with the female victim in the nude. The murder scenes themselves are well orchestrated, and director Paolo Cavara delights in showing us the gentle way that the paralysis needle slips into the victims' necks before having their stomachs ripped open with a hunting knife. The cinematography is superb, and it's safe to say that Black Belly of the Tarantula is one of the better looking Giallo films out there. The locations bode well with the film's style, and scenes that take place on a rooftop and in a luxury swimming pool provide visual treats. Overall, I don't hesitate to name Black Belly of the Tarantula as one of the best Giallo's that I've seen and it comes highly recommended!
The everyman as a smart but ineffectual professional? ...Giannini plays a detective always two steps behind the killer as beautiful ladies disappear from the cast before any female character development is allowed to occur ... The hero's personality is likable but he's hard to sympathize with as he mopes around, making mistakes. Some good shots and a lot of wasted ones. There's a treacherous rooftop chase. Much less treacherous is the tilting and panning from a lampshade in the killer's apartment, which is supposed to be a pre-murder leitmotiv -- it's the lamp shade of death.
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