Sex and Cheese
A five-hour ordeal of spaghetti camp and flying fake blood, this program of vintage gialli from the "years of lead" era is surely the exhausting Thursday night out that'll scotch the rest of your weekend.
Uber-hack Umberto Lenzi, master of every type of homegrown exploitation (he enjoyed several major phases, including gladiator programmers, Bond rips and a notorious spate of cannibal gorefests), was an enthusiastic bum with occasional Ed Woodian tendencies, and the three features piggybacking here burst with bad-is-funny goodness.
Paranoia (1969) — originally and invitingly titled Orgasmo in Italy — is actually a sub–Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte mind game, with American expat Carroll Baker letting creepy lad Lou Castel and his "sister" Collette Descombes move into her posh villa for sex and company — which, as they say, is her first mistake.
Dirty Pictures (1971) — just one of its many titles — echoes the earlier film's setup, except this time weird villa owner Irene Pappas is the homicidal manipulator, toying sadistically with on-the-run hippie thieves Ray Lovelock and luscious cat-girl Ornella Muti (all of 16).
A kind of Ten Little Indians bitchfest but with sheer idiot dialogue, Eyeball (1975) is more Argento-esque, following a tour bus through Barcelona as a red-gloved killer begins to knock the American tourists off and rip out their left eyes.
Back in the day when low-budget European genre flicks would employ name movie stars and get lots of love at drive-ins everywhere, Lenzi's style amounts merely to striving toward the silliest and most outrageous in every scene. Like a good Chianti, his movies may have seemed less than delicious at the get-go, but they're almost savory now.
(Oct. 14, Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater, cinefamily.org)
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