Director -Renato Polselli
Cast – Mickey Hargitay, Rita Calderoni, Raul Lovecchio, Christa Barrymore, Tano Cimarosa
Release Year – 1972
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I have looked forward to this film for quite some time given it debuted in the 70s, it’s Italian, and it carried a giallo-esque plot as well. A friend of mine mentioned this film being a bit sleazier than the average giallo, and while I took that as a good sign it did deliver the sleaze, but at the same time played into the film’s downfall, making this just a borderline-positive in the end instead of the awesome sleazefest I wanted it to be.
When a series of gruesome murders hit a small English town, respected criminal psychiatrist Herbert Lyutak(Mickey Hartigay; Bloody Pit of Horror, The Reincarnation of Isabel) becomes the prime suspect after he is attached to one of the deaths. Herbert tries his best to clear his name, not because he does not want to go to jail for someone else’s crimes, but because he himself is…the killer. His days are through, and in an effort to end the pain and suffering he delivers to his victims as a result of his own pain and suffering through impotency he stages a sting operation with the police so that they can catch the him as the killer. The sting operation goes according to plan, but before Herbert can attempt to kill the young decoy another woman is killed in the vicinity, leading the police suspicion away from Herbert, and Herbert to figure out whether he has committed any of the crimes.
The overall storyline to me is a positive one, because it not only focuses on the awesome who-dun-it element used in giallo and mystery films, but we get a strong psychological aspect as well thrown in with Herbert’s impotency and the fact that he may not be the killer afterall. I mentioned earlier that this film is one of the sleazier giallo efforts, and that is entirely true. This flick bleeds sexual debauchery, delivering threesomes, lots of female “bush”, self-pleasure, and female vs. female sexual antagonism to top it off. If you are looking for sleaze then you should enjoy the sexual nature of the film, however I felt that it took away from the story and was either a cheap attempt to make some more cash, or it was lazy writing. I am going to lean towards the former, heh. The rest of the film thankfully focuses on the mystery at hand, and we are given a fair amount of kills as well that came in fairly brutal nature. You know the kills are brutal when they offer little gore whatsoever but still manage to shock the viewer. My biggest knock against the writing aside from losing focus was the pacing, which was ruined at times with dramatically long scenes that did little to move the plot and simply just took up space. Of course, the version I am writing on is the original version of the film, the 102 minute non-rated edition, not the re-edited 85 minute US version, which probably has better pacing but less shock value.
Director Renato Polselli did a mostly-positive job with the film’s direction, giving us good execution during the horrific scenes involving the brutal deaths of the young women. I mentioned that we get very little gore in this film, but the drawn-out kill sequences were more than terrifying enough to make up for whatever splatter Polselli left out. The sets are simple and bleed “low-budget” all around, but they did enough to keep me engaged thanks to the dark atmosphere presented, and atmosphere very reminiscent of the film’s subject matter. Polselli leaves no stone unturned as he goes for an all-out full-frontal approach to the film’s numerous sex sequences, making this a film you should probably watch when your girlfriend is not around, much like Joe D’Amato(Anthropophagus, Beyond The Darkness)’s Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals. Sadly, his execution of the nude scenes was sub-par, and honestly had me annoyed at times over how uninteresting and overly long they were. You may be wondering how gratuitous nude scenes could be so unflattering, especially to a sick bastard like myself, but that just shows how good execution is required for even the most self-sustaining elements in the horror genre.
Overall, Delirium is a mostly-positive watch that despite some major faults still delivers and unnerving horror experience in the end. We get a fantastic killer that comes both well-written and well-executed, along with many shocking scenes that whether enjoyable or not are guaranteed to ensure you do not forget about this film anytime soon.