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  • Smile Before Death

    Smile Before Death

    ★★★

    Obscure, middling giallo directed by Silvio Amadio the same year as his more celebrated film, Amuck! Rosalba Neri stars in both. Smile Before Death lacks the inspired mayhem and creative cinematography of Amuck! Plot-wise it borrows a bit freely from better giallo films, but the gratuitous sleaze factor is there. Some viewers will find the cartoonish score heavy-handed and annoying, but I think it’s amusing and works well.

  • Amuck!

    Amuck!

    ★★★★

    Lively, raunchy giallo that’s a lot of fun to watch (excluding the pointless bit of animal cruelty involving eels). There’s a perverse gusto to the proceedings, and the legendary slo-mo lesbian sex scene with a funky soundtrack guarantees this film immortality. The pivotal duck hunting scene plays out with a sly absurdity that works well, even though the mystery plot is ultimately just so-so. A nice looking widescreen restoration by 88 Films is available.

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  • Paranoia

    Paranoia

    ★★★★★

    A Psychedelic Psychosexual Thriller!

    Carroll Baker gives a fantastic no-holds-barred performance as a wealthy, MILFish, alcoholic, recently-widowed socialite. She spits out lines like, “When I think of myself, I want to vomit!” while credibly portraying the closest thing this film offers to a sympathetic character. But the real star performance here is Umberto Lenzi’s direction. Lenzi’s lens zooms, rack-focuses, and zips all over the place as shadows and light convey moods. These visuals frequently underscore the protagonist’s emotions and perception.…

  • The Corruption of Chris Miller

    The Corruption of Chris Miller

    ★★★½

    A respectable giallo-esque Spanish thriller. The two lead actresses — Jean Seberg, a troubled American refugee from COINTELPRO harassment and Hollywood blacklisting, and Spanish pop singer, Marisol — are up to the task of playing a dysfunctional stepmother and stepdaughter unhappily living together. Both deliver bold but non-campy performances. At a runtime of 113 minutes some parts of this film feel draggy, but the last 30 minutes are undeniably entertaining. I watched the version that’s steaming on Shudder, which is Vinegar Syndrome’s restored edition presented in its original widescreen framing, and it looks great.

    Best line: “You crazy old bitch! I felt like puke in your bed!”