What would happen if Jackie Collins, queen of the trashy airport novel, were to try her hand at writing a giallo? And just how bad would you expect the inevitable tv adaptation to be? Well, fortunately such a monstrous scenario is never likely to come to pass... Unfortunately, Lamberto Bava's DELIRIUM comes about as close to it as could possibly be imagined. This, is one bad movie!
Despite it's many detractors, I quite enjoyed Bava jr's previous attempt at gialli, A BLADE IN THE DARK. Although a bit slow in places, and having a completely ludicrous plot, it was entertaining and had some well handled murder set pieces.
DELIRIUM though, fails on almost every level. How did it all go so wrong?
The story concerns glamour model, Gioia (Serena Grandi). After her husband Carlos, dies in a freak speedboat accident (yep! that old chestnut!), she gives up modelling to take over the ownership of his glossy soft porn magazine, 'Pussycat'. Her pervert next-door neighbour Mark (Karl Zinny), spends all day spying on her through his telescope, and plaguing her with dirty phone calls (''You make my member throb with desire!'') Since being involved in a car crash that killed his girlfriend, Cinzia, he has been confined to a wheelchair, although his disability is purely psychosomatic.
The film starts with a photo shoot, conducted -- by Gioia's photographer brother (Vanni Corbellini), and his assistant, Roberto (David Brandon) -- in Gioia's swimming pool. It's an re-shoot of a set of photographs that originally featured Gioia herself, but, wishing to break with her past, she is having them redone with a different model. Unfortunately, after leaving the photo-shoot, the replacement model is brutally murdered with a pitch fork. The murder is witnessed by Mark through his telescope; he phones Gioia to tell her but, thinking it is just another of his crank calls she doesn't believe him. A few days later however, the body is discovered and an envelope arrives at the 'Pussycat' office, containing photographs of the murdered girl arranged in front of a blown up photo of Gioia.
From there on, more murders occur, and there are the usual cast of characters whose only purpose is to be set up, in unconvincing fashion, as suspects for the murderer, until a 'shock' twist (which you'll almost certainly have guessed after the first half hour!) brings the whole sorry affair to a pathetically limp conclusion.
Believe me, the Jackie Collins comparison is hardly an exaggeration; the whole film looks like the kind of slick, superficial nonsense Aaron Spelling was churning out in the mid-eighties, with shows like The Colbys and Dynasty. In fact, most of DELIRIUM'S cardboard characters wouldn't have looked out of place in an episode of one of those shows. Some of the dialogue is atrocious (''a woman's anger can be very bad''), and all attempts by Bava jr to do something 'imaginative' with the feeble material fall completely flat.
The film was apparently conceived, purely as a vehicle for its leading lady, Serena Grandi (The Dolly Parton of Italy), who was well known in Italy for appearing in a series of risqué films. DELIRIUM was intended to move her career forward by giving her a bit more acting to do while still providing a showcase for her more 'prominent' attributes. Hence, we get plenty of soft focus nude scenes to distract us from the tedium of the plot, but, pleasant as these may be, they're not nearly enough to redeem the film. It comes as no surprise to learn that this is still a big favourite on Italian television, the whole thing is utterly vacuous and formulaic, and a million miles away from the dark heart of the giallo genre. Surely, poor Mario will be spinning in his grave!
Bava jr attempts to create some interest by having the killer view his victims through a kind of distorted hallucinogenic fog, with one victim appearing as a kind of cyclops figure, and another with a bee's head! Some of the lighting effects in these scenes are quite striking, but they still end up looking more ridiculous than artistic--the nadir being reached with the 'bee attack' scene: The sight of a naked woman running around with a bee's head drains any tension that might have existed, and these scenes just end up looking silly. The hallucination idea is dropped halfway through the film anyway -- and we're never really given any explanation as to why the killer should be prone to them.
The film ends with the killer confronting Grandi with a large knife, which he expertly uses to remove most of her clothes (''I must see you in the nude, one last time'', he drools!). Rather than serving some deep psycho-sexual subtext, this scene is, of course, just one last chance to catch a glimpse of Grandi's ''snow capped hills'' before the end credits. I won't spoil the ending for those giallo fans who are masochistic enough to persist with this travesty, but really, you'd be much better off saving your money, and watching Bava sr's BLOOD & BLACK LACE instead.
Media Blasters have gone to the trouble of tracking down George Eastman and David Brandon from the cast, as well as Lamberto Bava himself, for half an hours worth of video interviews as an extra. The amusing thing is that even the two actors seem uninterested in recalling the film, and we get many long silences as they struggle to find something worth saying about it.
The image quality on the disc is pretty good, but the audio seemed very crackly for such a comparatively recent film, although it wasn't particularly distracting.
Only if you are committed to the point of insanity to all things gialli, should you even consider bothering with this turkey