Francesca

Francesca

Francesca

directed by Luciano Onetti

starring Luis Emilio Rodriguez, Gustavo Dalessanro, and Raul Gederlini

Unearthed Films, Guante Negro Films, MVD Visual Entertainment

The fine folks at MVD are committed to reviving the 1960’s Italian Giallo films. It’s a worthy project; the Giallo combined murky reality, barely suppressed sexuality, heartless crime and all-seeing police. Drama comes underlined by the thought “This could happen to me.” Here we have an interesting quirk: the murders are strictly ritualistic, the subtext is sex, and when you tie in Dante’s Divine Comedy, well, I’m on board. But the real surprise here is the filming date. This flick looks just like it was shot in 1968, but the release date is 2015. The colors are somehow faded yet over saturated, the fashions Italian high mod, and the cops maintain a solid 5:30 shadow while chain-smoking and shunning home life. It’s a bit like Colombo if he never went for a gag.

The story goes a bit like this: Fifteen years ago, Senior Vicounti (Raul Gederlini) was reading at night when a murder attacked him, but ended up killing his daughter Francesca instead. Now a new victim appears, and the case is no longer cold. The murderer dresses flash with red kid gloves and leaves missives composed of single letters cut from magazines. Coins are left on the eyes of each victim, it’s an old trick to keep the eyelids closed. No one wants a corpse staring at them. We see monuments, we see blood, we see bodies and all is mysterious. The camera work is clever; perspectives are forced or extended, shadows conceal and reveal, plenty of old school 35mm sets the mood and frames freeze momentarily to emphasize a detail. We get a tongue’s eye view of a glass of scotch whiskey. Old glass slides of faded porn inform us of…what? Creepy dolls abound as do cool itty-bitty Italian sports cars. And always, plot piles upon plot.

What came in my mail box is the “Limited Collector’s Edition” consisting of a Blu-ray, a DVD, and a CD of the sound track. I spun the Blu-ray, there are some special features but mostly stock interviews and deleted scenes. The DVD holds identical material, but offers those of you still living in the 2000’s a glimpse of low res video. The sound track is just that, it’s a collection of the non-vocal audio from the film. Occasionally Italian pop tunes appear, but for the most part it’s a collections of sounds that make little sense without the visual. You will NOT be listing to this on the Stairmaster. If you like vintage creepy murder, this is a fine example, executed with care, gore, and a real eye for the genre.

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