Sunday, October 03, 2010

Halloween Horrors 1 - Demons 6 -- De Profundis

I love to watch movies by Luigi Cozzi, because not only are the movies a lot of fun, but they are obviously made with the zeal of a horror and fantasy film fanatic.  Like many others, it seems that Cozzi got sick of waiting for Dario Argento to finish his Three Mothers trilogy, so he took it upon himself to give it a shot of sorts. Part tribute, part continuation and all Cozzi Crackle Cosmicness-De Profundis is a great snapshot of the end of 1980s horror films coming out of Italy. 

After a Suspiria styled Giallo opening (??) is revealed to be a movie within a movie we meet our leads, Anne and Marc. The pair are a popular actress and her director husband who is dubbed "king of the spaghetti thrillers" by his critics. Luckily for us, they both work in the horror genre and can seemingly accept almost any horror oriented plot twist Cozzi throws at them!  Things aren't going great on the set of Anne's current film where she gripes about the director being an "all he wants is blood, blood and more blood' filmmaker.
Marc is working on getting his new project off the ground-and luckily for him he has found a great character...LEVANA the third mother!  Dario Argento gets mentioned, as does Suspiria (what, no love for Inferno?)-and Goblin even graces the soundtrack for a few notes...EVERY TIME ARGENTO is mentioned.

The story twists and turns with some character struggling as Caroline Munro wiggles about in a garter belt and black bra and panties combo, which is always nice.  There are double crosses and our loving director isn't perhaps as nice as you would think he is.  But that isn't what we showed up for is it?  Levana the REAL witch decides that she does not want a film made about her legacy, since ARMAGEDDON is apparently on the way as the cosmic fields and floating babies in the film would suggest. She stalks and terrifies Anne, blows up terrified hearts (WOOHAW, this is a great Contamination flashback), and even Brett Halsey as an evil producer character that loves stories that can be told in four pages. Levin? Levana?  oooooooooOOOOOOO! Spooky!

Just when you think the characters can't survive another weird twist in the plot or song by Bang Tango--we get a quirky Omen-esque finale with some glowing baby eyes. And Armageddon closes in on us all!!

This is a very fun little film, one that certainly doesn't want for big ideas!  It reminds me of Lamberto Bava's Prince of Terror in a lot of ways, using the trials and tribulations of the Italian horror genre directors working in troubled times for the industry to set up a horror story that fits exactly with the films being made 5 or 6 years prior.  It also actually fits well with the "Demons" tag it has in front of it...with glowing Cozzi Crackle (yeah, it ain't quite Kirby, but...I like it), dripping goo sliding past rubber lips, inappropriate sexual advances, Heavy Metal death sequences, a slapdash of influences from American films, a character screaming a villains name over a shot of EARTH (Cozzi Crackle, say it with me) and much much more.  If you love your films fast paced and don't care if people get freaked out by the refrigerator exploding and then walking away from it like nothing happened, this one is for you! 

There is one little detail I found REALLY fun in this film, and I would wager you would need to be a real obsessive Cozzi nut to pick up on it. Luckily, there are a few of us.  At one point Anne is reading Marc's script to find out about Levana. She is doing this in front of a mirror and talking. Well, they show the script, but it isn't a dummy she is supposed to read and we hear the parts of the script. IT IS THE SCRIPT TO THE MOVIE WE ARE WATCHING.  Anne's lines are there to read instead of what she is saying!  Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

The cast is excellent, and while they aren't delivering the most terrifying of Science Fiction, Horror, Giallo hybrid scripts, they all do their best. Urbano Barberini plays Marc with all the scenery chomping one would hope for. Personally, I love the Zinny family connection he brings, because Karl and Veronica are some of my favorite 80s faces in Italian trash!  Then we get Florence Guerin in the lead role of Anne AND Caroline Munro as the wicked woman of horror cinema who wants to "put it" to Marc. For the role of Levana that is.  It was a kick seeing Brett Halsey, who was also working with Fulci and Franco at the time, as the angry producer slash cosmic ubervillain. Even in 1989, this was a good cast of stars that could practically be in the film made in the opening sequence.  Also notable is Michele Soavi as the Argento like director, though frankly I can't understand why Argento himself wouldn't do it.  The film is a tribute to the guy, it would have taken a day I'd imagine. 

The Japanese VHS of the film is interesting as well. It looks like it is taken from a damaged film print, with abundant scratches and marks almost every other minute.  This doesn't help the editing, which bounces between "rapid fire" and "slapdash" and "oh man I'm working with 40 year old equipment and can't get anything to work right" moments continuously.  It is a little bit off putting at first, but as the movie chugs along, I really started to like the SLAM feeling it was creating.  Piero Bozza isn't a slouch, working on the Demons films and later Lamberto Bava's FANTAGHIRO series, so I'll chock it up as some directed Cozzi Crackle and intentional weirdness! 

Any fan of the 80s Italian horror films should find lots to like and enjoy a trip from the fringes of faux cheap giallo films to cosmic crunch!

Bonus BANG TANGO! The end credits of De Profundis run over this slab of 80s awesome!  It isn't quite Demons quality, but I bet it was cheaper than Accept!


Project Director said...

Bang Tango recently played one of our local metal bars, as part of some traveling 80's ticket.

Nick Frame said...


I produced the extras on the Arrow DVD and Blu-Ray of Inferno and we did an extra called:

The Other Mother: Making The Black Cat

which is all about Luigi and how his version came to be! Check it out if you can!

Both the DVD and Blu-Ray are region free!


David A. Zuzelo said...

Hi Nick!
That is excellent, I had no idea this was on the disc. I'd love to check it out, and I'm sure I'll be picking up the Argento BluRay discs sometime.
Is it so wrong that I'm MORE intrigued about this extra than anything else, including the film, on this release??
Love me some Luigi!
Thanks very much for letting me know, that is just awesome.

Anonymous said...

Great news, this movie has been given a netflix release!

Anonymous said...

David, There Is an official netflix release f this movie under the title of " the black cat" 1989

Dan said...

Thanks for turning me on to this one Z. Watched it tonight and you're right, if you love that 80s Italian horror thing this is a must see. Is it just me or are the Italians really into that whole "meta" let's comment on our genre thing and make movies within movies just for kicks? Completely bonkers. I especially liked the way Marc and Anne come down to inspect the exploding fridge, he grabs a can (beer?) for a nightcap and just leaves the door open.