Ah, the giallo film; that twisted sub-genre of Italian horror cinema. While there are several gialli that are rightly considered classics, for every one of these, it seems, there are a hundred others that...well...aren't. A lot of these films are like the American soap operas, usually revolving around upper crust socialites, ultra-convoluted murder mysteries, and devious plots to steal each other's money. They can be spicy (the films of Sergio Martini), salacious (Andrea Bianchi) or, in the case of Sergio Bergonzeilli's Nelle Pieghe della Carne (In the Folds of Flesh), downright silly.
In the Folds of Flesh opens with a young girl's scream, and then a shot of a (laughable) decapitated head rolling about on the floor of a bedroom. We are then shown a man fleeing from the police on a motorcycle, culminating in his capture in the backyard of a lovely villa, but not before the man witnesses Lucille (Eleanora Rossi Drago) burying the body of a man behind the house, while a young boy looks on.
Flash forward to several years later. Lucille and the grown up children (Pier Angeli and Fernando Sancho) are surprised by the visit of a man who claims to be a long lost relative, and friend of the children's father (whose supposedly vanished at sea). The trio are suspicious of their new guest, but the daughter decides to seduce him, and, after they've made love, murders him when she discovers him rummaging through her things. The family dispose of the remains (and also kill the visitor's dog), and rest secure in the knowledge that whatever it is they're hiding will remain that way.
That is, of course, until another visitor comes calling. This man is a friend of the man they've just killed, and tells his hosts he was told to meet his friend at the villa. After an evening of twisted poetry and incestuous behavior between the siblings (or are they??), the man decides to take the young woman by force, and, he too, is murdered. Once again, everyone can now rest easy in the knowledge that...
Okay, yet another visitor comes calling, and now things are getting ridiculous. The thing is, this latest visitor claims to be the father of the children, and, well...that's when I got really confused.
In the Folds of Flesh is more Franco than Fulci in that there's much more emphasis on "out there" visuals and groovy music than the gore and substance one would find in a really great gialli like "Don't Torture a Duckling". Bergonzelli lacks the visual panache of his contemporaries, offering up a fairly unremarkable looking film, but, what he lacks in style, he more than makes up for in hysterically inappropriate dialogue. While this isn't the craziest giallo I've ever seen (the uncut version of "Delirium" is just plain nuts), it sure is one of the most confusing, but it's also surprisingly tame. As a matter of fact, save for the terrible decapitation effects and the seemingly tacked on (and pointless) Nazi Death Camp flashbacks (featuring a bevy of incredibly hot women being led to the gassing chamber), the remainder of the film is positively benign.
Severin Films drags this curiosity kicking and screaming out of the seventies and gussies it up with a solid 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, a competent Dolby 2.0 soundtrack, and the film's original theatrical trailer.
In the Folds of Flesh isn't a particularly good giallo, but it is a breezily entertaining slice of Eurosleaze that delivers a few gut-busting moments, and is worth a watch if you're a fan of the genre.