Director – Paolo Cavara
Cast – Giancarlo Giannini, Claudine Auger, Barbara Bouchet, Rossella Falk, Silvano Tranquilli, Annabella Incontrera, Ezio Marano
Release Year – 1971
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Black Belly of the Tarantula is a film I wanted to see solely due to its awesome title, although I will admit that seeing it was a giallo film heightened my curiosity. Well, my urge is over now that I have finally given this flick a watch, and I am pleased to say that this early 70s Italian film was just as good as I expected it to be, and is one of the better giallo efforts there is.
Inspector Tellini is hot on the case of a sadistic killer who paralyzes his victims and then slices their gut open while still conscious, a homage to the way tarantulas are killed by the Tarantula Hawk wasp. As the body count rises Tellini is lead through a dangerous path that eventually leads him to a popular health spa the victims frequent, but this big break only leads to further problems when he learns the killer is closer than he appears.
Giallo films have become infested with cliches much like the slasher sub-genre, but every now and then we are given a film that follows the joyous template but also comes with its own creative ideas, and Black Belly of the Tarantula is one of them. For starters, the name says it all. I LOVED the fact that our killer would first paralyze his victims and then slice their stomachs open in gruesome fashion, which is incredible given the victim is fully awake and lucid during this entire process. Writers Marcello Danon(story) and Lucile Laks(screenplay) are commended by me for coming up with this horrifically genius idea, who for the most part threw in enough kills to keep me satisfied although I admit that I kept wanting more and more of this killer’s carnage. Watching Inspector Tellini is engaging thanks to how well-written his character was, and the constant developments written into the film aided in its pacing. I loved how minute details were turned into big deals when we realized how Tellini was incidentally involved in the investigation himself, showing how adding creativity to the usual giallo storyline of an inspector/reporter trying to track a killer can be made even more interesting. As usual, the climax of this film is of the shocking twist variety, although I will admit that I was not the least bit shocked by this one. I guessed the killer nearly halfway through the film, and I was hoping that the storyline would lead me to believe the person I picked was the killer and then throw me for a loop at the end, but instead I was right, which isn’t so much fun in the end, heh.
Director Paolo Cavara did a fantastic job executing this film, delivering the insanely written horror in full-frontal fashion and with positive gore as well. We were not given any true disembowelments, but the stomach slicing was enough to get me to cringe a bit knowing that the person was helpless and had to experience it first-hand. Cavara makes the most of the many unique settings and sets that Italy has to offer, including fantastic camerawork and execution during a high-rise chase scene that must have taken ages to film. We get positive performances from everyone involved, especially Giancarlo Giannini who expertly sold his role as Inspector Tellini. For a not-so-elegant giallo film we are given an excellent experience that gave me everything I wanted, starting with its awesome title.
Overall, Black Belly of the Tarantula is a great giallo effort that gives us the usual awesome giallo story, except in this watch we are given one of the most calm yet truly diabolical killers ever thanks to his method of killing. Great direction and good acting performances sell the film visually to the viewer, resulting in one of the best giallo films out there.