My favourite film genre, the Italian giallo, has been more or less dead in the water for the last twenty five years apart from the odd, honorable exception.
You can imagine my delight, therefore, when various promotional materials surfaced across the net for a brand new giallo, directed by Pierfrancesco Campanelli and starring many iconic actors from the genre's heyday, such as Florinda Bolkan and Franco Nero. My joy was tempered by the nagging suspicion that giallo cinema was very much a product of its time, and that many of the pleasures to be found in the genre related to a very specific seventies look and attitude that simply doesn’t travel well into the eighties and beyond.
It was with some trepidation that I popped the Media Blasters presentation of Bad Inclination into my DVD player, and as it turned out my fears were not totally without foundation.
The film is set in a large country house on the outskirts of Rome, which contains the usual group of eccentric and creepy tenants. Chief amongst these characters is Florinda Bolkan, who plays an artist who is painting a picture of a woman being murdered with a metal set-square (have a guess what is going to be used as the films prime murder weapon later in the film). Bolkan employs a housekeeper who appears to be permanently drunk and doesn’t do any work around the place at all except collect empty alcohol bottles. The other tenants are made up of a young female runaway who Bolkan hires to kill the housekeeper (the housekeeper is blackmailing the artist for reasons not immediately apparent), an ex-pop-star from the eighties (Eva Robins-better known as the transsexual "girl" in the white dress from Argento’s Tenebre, and looking well past her sell-by date here), and a pervy biker who records himself having sex with all and sundry in his room.
It isn’t long before various characters are being laid to waste by a set-square wielding maniac in contrived set pieces with gouts of blood that spray further than those in Shogun Assassin, and as such are messily entertaining.
Enter straight laced copper Rita (Mirca Viola), whose task it is to track down our maniacal architect; said task not made any easier by her nemesis in the magistrate’s office, a chauvinist pig who thwarts her every move and has a fine line in anti-feminist rants and sexist putdowns. He is easily the most entertaining character in the film-a real throwback to the seventies giallo where EVERY male character was sexist and insensitive and every woman, even the beautiful ones, not only put up with this outrageous behaviour, they seemed to quite enjoy it. It’s a pity he’s not given more screen time (although looking at his hair I’m not sure the producers could afford the bottles of Grecian 2000 for the entire length of the shoot).
Also floating around for no apparent reason is Franco Nero, who, by the way he is dressed, apparently thinks he is still on the set of Django (and has been for the last 40 years if his piss-stained overcoat is anything to go by!). I’m not going to reveal anything about the plot, partly because all the fun in a good giallo is in uncovering the clues to the murderer’s identity, but mostly because I’m not sure exactly what happened in the film’s final scenes as they don't make any sense at all.
One of the main problems with Bad Inclination is the fact that the director has decided that he’s not only making a horror film, he’s also directing a travelogue, so we have shot after shot of Rome’s streets and back alleys, which, whilst being as beautiful as ever, starts to really grate after the 50th such shot.
The other major problem is the dubbing. When its done right, it never causes me a problem, but the dubbing "artistes" efforts in this film really take the biscuit! They all appear to be on valium, and talk as though they are in the bottom class of a remedial English group. Absolutely no effort has been made to fit the spoken dialogue to the actors mouth movements-consequently actors mouths are left flapping like goldfish that have been lifted out of their bowl while there is absolute silence on the soundtrack.
The disc itself contains a making of documentary, and some brief interviews with the director and two of the main leads (nothing from Bolkan unfortunately, even though she’s spoken at length on other discs).
In conclusion, I can only really recommend Bad Inclination to giallo completists. The film is obviously not without faults (to say the least!), the dialogue is poor, the pacing is all over the place, and the acting is pretty variable (especially from the usually terrific Nero).It does, however, contain some pretty gory murder scenes, features some of my favourite actors, and hey, let’s face it, just the fact that Italy has managed to produce a twenty first century non-Argento giallo has to be cause for celebration, even when the results are as mediocre as this.