Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975) movie poster

director Steven Spielberg
viewed: 07/26/2013

I’d been holding off revisiting Jaws for some time mainly because I wanted to watch it with my kids.  A couple of years ago, having ventured into content of questionable appropriateness (e.g. Poltergeist (1983)), waiting for them to get a bit older seemed the right thing to do.  Finally, they were taking a trip to Australia this summer, so waiting for them to come back from that before potentially giving them the fear of the water that effected a huge portion of the population as a result of seeing Jaws in the 1970’s also seem apropos.

For a generation, Jaws has been one of “the” scary movies.  Expertly crafted by the very young Steven Spielberg, it was a film that created its own zeitgeist, thrill ride cinema at its earliest and best.  And the subsequent fear of the water, fear of sharks, and general misinformation that poured from the film and the Peter Benchley novel upon which it was based.

I was 6 when it came out.  I have vivid memories of the time, though I wouldn’t see it until a re-release a few years later.  It was, however, “the” film when my family got HBO finally.  Back then, HBO only had a half dozen movies that it played over and over again.  And through such a combination of elements, Jaws was one of those movies that I couldn’t tell you how many times I saw it.

It’s a brilliant film.  The production may have been plagued and potentially disastrous  but Spielberg managed not only the tension, drama, and adventure but actually got some quintessential performances as well.  None more quintessential than Quint himself (Robert Shaw).  This is one case of a character performance where it doesn’t seem like a performance at all.  Quint seems like a real person, or maybe that Robert Shaw just plain is Quint.  Certainly one of the best that I can bring to mind.  Richard Dreyfuss is great too as Matt Hooper.

Like Spielberg’s other early films, Duel (1971) and The Sugarland Express (1974), the director shows a real interest in average Americans, using non-actors in a big part of crowd scenes and local flavor.  While there are perhaps real parallels between Jaws and Duel, this is the film that made Spielberg Spielberg, or at least gave him the license to become the director that he would.

The kids really liked the movie a lot.  Clara noted that she was only frightened when the music started up (John Williams’ iconic score featuring notable nods toward Bernard Herrmann).  That and the surprise moments made to make you jump out of your seat.

The most imperfect element of the film is its shark biology.  This may sound sort of obvious to state but the film created or enabled such an image of great white sharks that it’s literally taken decades of information to overturn.  While the shark is sort of the perfect villain in the film, this perfect predator predating on people, the reality of a rogue shark isn’t something that seems as palpable now (though science still knows less about great whites than it would like to).

It’s a brilliant film, though.  Iconic throughout, from lines delivered to reaction shots staged to the film’s great final section on the Orca.  Quite satisfying, quite remarkable.  Still.

Spring Breakers (2012)

Spring Breakers (20122) movie poster

director Harmony Korine
viewed: 07/21/2013

“Act like you’re in a movie or something.”

Spring Breakers, writer/director Harmony Korine’s most commercial film to date seemed on the outside to be a real opportunity for subversiveness.  His last feature film was Trash Humpers (2009) in which the title was not at all metaphorical.  It featured a group of young people in old-people masks, humping trash, gibbering and other weirdnesses.  For this film, Korine landed two former Disney teen stars, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, as bikini-clad party animal girls turned hedonistic thugs.  They star alongside Korine’s wife Rachel and Ashley Benson in a film meant to show them as good at being bad.  They take drugs, have sex and kill people in an anarchic orgy of pretense and violence.

The film also features James Franco with a gold grill on his teeth and cornrows in his hair as a white gangsta who pays the girls’ bail when they get arrested then takes him to his shady underside of the sunshine state.

The thing is, as a straight exploitation film, this could have worked perhaps.  Maybe Paul Schrader or or Paul Verhoeven should have taken the reins.  For Korine, it’s actually a lot less wacky of a mishmash than his normal oeuvre.  T&A hardbodies throb in slow motion to a mixture of music, like scenes from any number of hip-hop videos showing the modern beach party as made for video.  The girls, while largely amoral, have in Selena Gomez’s Faith, one more standard goody-two-shoes who doesn’t participate in the worst crimes and bails when things get weird.  In some ways, her moral compass sets a tone for the others.

As some have noted before, the girls aren’t really given unique personalities, especially outside of Gomez’s prayer group.  We don’t really know who they are, what they stand for, what they signify.  So as they work their way through their wild oats, each caving to a return to normality by the end, it’s not utterly clear what it all means, really.  Maybe it all means nothing, that all things depicted right or wrong are simply surface effects of a group of truly amoral humanity.

The thing that the movie really has going for it is the cinematography by Benoît Debie (who also shot Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible (2002) and his hypnotic Enter the Void (2009)) with neons and both garish and gorgeous, seems to offer aspect of commentary beyond the script.  The scene when the girls rob the restaurant before their road trip, shot from outside, through the window of the El Camino as it slowly circles the building, is fantastic.  The film toys with icon-making.  Again, maybe that is in the intent, as well.

Frankly, it’s not as “out there” as it could be.  This may sound gauche but none of the principals appear naked (except maybe Ms. Korine), though the film is edited in such a way as to imply sex and nudity.  It would have been much more far out to really drag his actresses through the mud he suggests.  This film, which seems to have a meta commentary in its casting, is ultimately a rather tepid mess, not a hot one.

The Patsy (1928)

The Patsy (1928) movie poster

director King Vidor
viewed: 07/19/2013 at the Castro Theatre, SF, CA

This year, I only managed to see two films at the always anticipated San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Yasujirō Ozu’s Tokyo Chorus (1931) and King Vidor’s The Patsy, considered to be star Marion Davies’ finest performance.

Davies is a scream in The Patsy, a comedy of romantic errors about a young girl Pat (Davies) who pines for her older sister (the very beautiful Jane Winton) Grace’s boyfriend.  It doesn’t help that Grace is rather capriciously chasing a different young rich man, or that their mother, the impeccably hilarious Marie Dressler, is all for Grace and none for Pat.  Her father, Dell Henderson, sides with her, but typically folds to the overbearing Dressler in all cases.

The script is funny, certainly.  Oddly packed with verbal jokes, it’s more significantly the set-up for these consummate performers.  Marie Dressler is one for the ages.  She pulls faces, does double-takes, even enunciates remarkably when she is shouting, a definitive comedic actor.

But Davies is the core of the whole.  Known more for being the William Randolph Hearst’s mistress, and pawn to his attempts to make her a star, she shines vividly here with her pronouncedly unique personality and gags.  She has any number of wonderful facial and physical responses, but her three comedic impressions of actresses Mae Murray, Lillian Gish and Pola Negri are a total scream.  She’s as funny and adept as an screen actress in any movie ever.  And it’s quite a shame that this is one of such few films that she had to really show her stuff.  At least we do have it.

None of what I’m saying here is new.  This film has been highly regarded for these very reasons for ages.  I’m just adding my two bits to the same.

Tokyo Chorus (1931)

Tokyo Chorus still (1931)

director Yasujirō Ozu
viewed: 07/19/2013 at the Castro Theatre, SF, CA

Yasujirō Ozu, cited in the introduction to his 1931 silent film Tokyo Chorus, shown at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, as “the most Japanese of Japanese directors” is certainly among the most important of Japanese film directors.  Though I’m quite familiar with Ozu and his style, I really don’t sit in a place to offer any insight or expertise.  I’ve only seen a couple of his films.  I’ve only written about one other, Early Spring (1956), which means that I’ve only seen one other of his films in the last decade.  And I’m no expert on Japanese cinema, though I’ve seen a fair amount of Japanese films.

Ozu’s style, what he is most known for, is a combination of visual style, narrative style, and narrative focus.  His interest was in contemporary Japanese family stories, melodramas soft on drama, quiet yet exemplary.  He’s also noted for his indoor camera style, shooting from a perspective close to the floor in a Japanese house in which most people would have sat on tatamis.

Interestingly, Tokyo Chorus is considered the first of “mature” style.  Tokyo Chorus is Ozu’s 22nd film.  His first was made in 1927.  That’s a lot of films.  It’s interesting because the film is a mixture of comedy and drama.  Apparently, a number of his earlier films were largely comedic, which isn’t really what one thinks of when one thinks of Ozu.

Tokyo Chorus begins with a comic scene in which a class of Japanese teenagers are lining up to be inspected by their teacher.  They are disorderly, sassy, and various shades of silly.  The primary character, Shinji Okajima (Tokihiko Okada), is followed in later years, a young father with a small family and a job in a Tokyo insurance office.  When he stands up to his boss for firing an older employee, he winds up unemployed himself, and is faced with the hardships of unemployment, a period akin to the American Great Depression, in which glimpses of poverty in the big city are captured.  He ultimately has to sacrifice his honor to do work considered degrading (not really that bad, one would think).

The story is a snapshot of Japanese culture in this transitional time.  Ozu handles the family in subtle shifts of emotions, through the changes that they have to accept to stay afloat and honorable.

It’s a remarkable film, though in some ways unremarkable.  That has been my personal feeling toward Ozu.  I’ve liked and appreciated his work, but it hasn’t drawn me.  Obviously, for all the films I’ve seen in the last decade, that this is only the second of his films is telling in that regard.  It’s hard to describe the film’s strengths and charms, though they are evident throughout.  I guess that I feel that Ozu requires a bit more from an audience, to understand Japanese culture of the time to appreciate nuance and subtlety.  I hope I’m not utterly discrediting myself in saying this.  Especially since I actually enjoyed the film quite well.

Elite Squad (2007)

Elite Squad (2007) movie poster

director José Padilha
viewed: 07/17/2013

Fascism and the action film have been partners perhaps long before Dirty Harry (1971), but certainly nothing so new by 2007 when Brazilian director José Padilha’s Elite Squad came out.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Dirty Harry, so maybe it’s not the best point of reference, but even later films like RoboCop (1987) (also been a long while) took on the issue of a police state style tactics against an out of control criminal populace.

The big difference, at least in the Robocop films, or even in Judge Dredd comics or the more recent Dredd (2012) movie is a somewhat ironical commentary, positioning a narrative in a near or far future in which the world has evolved in cartoonish extremes, still meant to represent a picture of the present day.  Padilha’s Elite Squad isn’t a portrait of the future, but a portrait of the recent past.  Based on the book Elite da Tropa by sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares and two former BOPE captains, André Batista and Rodrigo Pimentel, it’s a fictionalized version of a non-fiction history.  And the fascist techniques that this elite troop of paramilitary police officers exact in the Rio slums isn’t at all ironic but is also portrayed as absolutely necessary.

Narrated by veteran Squad Captain Roberto Nascimento (Wagner Moura), the perspective of the film is sited within a man who leads ruthless raids on favelas, shooting first, threatening everyone in sight, condemning the rich who use drugs, dirty cops, anyone on the fringe of the law.  It’s really not unlike the Judge Dredd character, cops that are judge, jury, and executioners.  The criminals are vicious and armed to the teeth, and entering their world is to be utterly surrounded by life or death risk.  Regular beat cops won’t even enter the favelas.  They are considered lawless states.  Until the Elite Squad rams in.

He’s about to become a father and he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  Showing any mercy, any human feeling, is a breach not just of etiquette but a risk of life and limb to his men.  And with one act of empathy he loses a colleague.  He comes home, blames his wife, chases her out.

The story follows him trying to find a replacement for himself, with two keen recruits in his sights.  One is cut from the same cloth as himself, the other is more socially minded, a law student, who works with other students who work to try social reforms with the favelas.  Discussing Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, there is clearly acknowledgement of system critiques.  But the students all end up being pot-smoking, would-be good-doers, unaware of the realities of police work.  And ultimately, as often is the case in narratives like this, the fascist mentality wins.

Really, though, given the portrayal of Nascimento, the questions raised by the law student cop, and perhaps other aspects of the film, I don’t know that it’s a whole-hearted endorsement of the police tactics.  Though, certainly, that seems to be a fairly consistent criticism of the film.

It was so popular in Brazil that a sequel was engendered, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010), which is in my queue.  And Padilha’s star has risen to be given the apt directorial seat in the RoboCop (2014) remake.  It seems familiar territory, though it will be definitely interesting to see what way he takes it.  The original 1987 film was one of director Paul Verhoeven’s great science fiction films (including Total Recall () and Starship Troopers (), featuring his clearly comic use of irony along with slick effects and action.  The two RoboCop sequels were written by notable comic book writer Frank Miller, and his lean towards fascist belief (non-ironically) probably is cause for some revisiting and reanalysis therein.

Elite Squad is a taut action film.  Very well made, quite gripping.  Morally questionable, perhaps.

Upstream Color (2013)

Upstream Color (2013) movie poster

director Shane Carruth
viewed: 07/14/2013

One might have been wondering what the guy that made that cool, off-beat, low budget indie time travel science fiction Primer (2004) did since that time.  That guy, writer/director/star/etc., Shane Carruth, didn’t make another movie until 2013, 9 years, but finally returned with another low budget independent (and independently distributed) science fiction film, Upstream Color.

It’s been 8 years since I saw Primer, but I remember it positively.  Re-reading what I wrote about it back then, it seems that I had forgotten the film’s more non-traditional narrative aspects that made the latter part of the film confounding to follow.  That would have been instructive to recall before setting forth on Upstream Color.

Because, quite frankly, you’re lucky if you can glean much of the actual narrative from Upstream Color in an initial viewing.

Ostensibly, it’s about a couple that meet, Kris (Amy Seimetz) and Jeff (Carruth).  They share an ambiguous experience of having been drugged, brainwashed, bilked of all of their money and not knowing what the hell happened.

We get introduced to this as the film follows Kris through her mugging and abduction.  She is force-fed a worm that gives her abductor power over her.  As her abduction and bilking story unfold, and as she meets this other guy who has some similar wounds on his body (she eventually tries to cut the worm from her system), you’re kind of thinking that it’s all going to get explained somehow.  Their coming together will allow them to both tap into this mysterious experience and enlighten the characters and the audience.

Fat chance.

Actually, at a certain point, the elliptical, non-traditional narrative style gives you a sense that you’re never going to have it explained.  By the time you realize this, you’re understanding why critics have compared it to Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011).  It’s an impressionistic process.  We, the audience, are about as confused as the characters.  We don’t fully understand what’s going on.

Worms?  Pigs?  Orchids?  Shared realities?

I can’t explain it to you but the folks at Slate did a pretty good job of it.  I felt like I needed such an FAQ or Cliff’s Notes when I was through with the film.

The thing is that there is a very complicated narrative underneath all this impressionistic storytelling.  It’s convoluted and pretty weird.  And you’re not going to get it on the first time through.  It’s impossible.

In the end, I don’t know what I think of the film.  There is some very clever depth to it, perhaps like or surpassing Primer.  I think it’s very cool how Carruth produced and distributed his film, maintaining artistic control in the absolute, blazing a trail in the modern cinema economy.  But frankly, I didn’t get it.

The film’s tone is sort of consistent, musical or tonal (does that make sense? to say that a tone is tonal?), but it doesn’t build or crescendo, so it’s a little distancing emotionally.  Maybe that is the intent.  I don’t know.   It seems that this is the kind of film that people like re-watching and analyzing.  I thought it was interesting, and I’m sure that I’m still thinking it through, but as open to non-traditional filmmaking as I like to consider myself, I didn’t get it.  And now, knowing what I know (having read about it), I don’t know how you could get all that.  At least The Tree of Life didn’t have some complex three-part ecosystem that it had invented for you to not exactly understand.

The Gits (2005)

The Gits (2005) movie poster

director Kerri O’Kane
viewed: 07/14/2013

Back in 1992, I saw The Gits at a club called Brave New World on Fulton Street in San Francisco.  In those days, I was still relatively plugged in to the local punk scene and had a lot of friends who knew the shows to go see and I’d still go and see them.  I don’t know that I’d really heard of them that much before going to see them but I knew they were from Seattle and were supposed to be pretty good.  And they most certainly were good.  Most notable was singer Mia Zapata, whose vocals stood out and her dreadlocked, tres casual looks gave her the feel of a kind of person that I knew in the punk scenes.  It was a club with a very low stage if any.

Almost as notable at the time was that actor Mike Myers was there at the show.  He was in town filming his first feature film, So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993) and he was hanging out in the places that regular people hung out in.  I don’t know what he thought, but I think my girlfriend bought the band’s CD (it was that transitional time between buying vinyl and CD’s, so I’m not sure).

A year later, I was in Portland, OR on a road trip and had picked up the local weekly paper to see what shows were on at the time and I discovered the shocking news that Zapata had been murdered in Seattle, raped and strangled on a city street.  The news was shocking, sad, befuddling.  Terrible.

A decade later, Zapata’s murder was finally solved via DNA evidence.  She had been murdered by a random killer, who eventually was brought to justice.  The story was even featured on a number of programs like Forensic Files, which is how I finally heard of the resolution.  A random disconnect from an old life in the punk scene to a current life of watching a lot of true crime detective non-fiction programming.

Director Kerri O’Kane’s documentary The Gits spans that whole story of the band’s formation at Antioch College in Ohio, their move to Seattle, their relationship with Seven Year Bitch and other local bands, their rise on the surge of the Grunge scene which they weren’t really a part of, to Zapata’s tragic, random, horrible death.

The latter part of the film ends up focusing on her death and final capture of her killer.  The voices interviewed are mostly members of the band, some friends, members of Seven Year Bitch, and even Joan Jett, who filled in with The Gits who tried to raise money to find Zapata’s murderer.

They were a very good band.  She was a singular talent.  And from all evidence, a very kind, fine human being who very positively effected the lives of all around her.

The film isn’t overly exceptional, though it definitely does an admirable job covering the story, featuring the music.  In these oral histories, it’s the survivors who tell the tales.  Mia is missing even in this picture.  She’s only shown speaking on stage or singing, never interviewed (in archival footage).  It makes sense.  The film was made long after her passing.  And it’s a sad look back on what was with hints of what might have been.

The Howling (1981)

The Howling (1981) movie poster

director Joe Dante
viewed: 07/13/2013

Back in 1981, the werewolf movie underwent radical transformation.  Transformation being one of the key qualities of a werewolf movie, dating back no doubt to Werewolf of London (1935) and The Wolf Man (1941), perhaps arguably back to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) (not a werewolf movie but it does feature an excellent transformation).  Back in those days and for many years onward, transformation effects were generally created via a series of fade-in shots, blurring the images together to show growth of hair, fangs, and claws.

But by 1981 (and perhaps earlier — please let me know), a breaking point was achieved in werewolf movies that transformed the genre.  It was the special effects, make-up and prosthetics, analog constructions that evolved right in front of the camera.  The series of these latex and what-have-you enhanced sequences tapped into new levels of gross-out cinema that would come to be the standard borne by horror films throughout the 1980’s all up until the digital age.

Nowhere were these effects more prominent than in Joe Dante’s The Howling and John Landis’s An American Werewolf in London (1981).  Rick Baker worked on both films, though he left The Howling to Rob Bottin and moved over  to the Landis’s production.  The Howling came out a few months prior, and while fans and aesthetes can argue which is better, they both individually and together utterly redefined and re-enlivened the werewolf film.  Bottin would go on to do the effects in John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), a much more free-form gross-out transformation design.

The rest of The Howling is a reasonably entertaining werewolf movie, peppered with Dante’s Hollywood references and loony humor, especially with the aid of the script by John Sayles, who had worked with him on Piranha (1978).  It features Dee Wallace as a news anchor trailing a serial killer to a porn shop in LA.  After a freaky meeting, in which the killer is killed, she suffers psychological trauma and is sent to “The Colony”, a retreat on the California coast that turns out to be inhabited by a coven of werewolves.

It’s all pretty weird, really.

The star of the film is the effects largely, but it’s an entertaining, oddball, goof-fest featuring cameos from the likes of Roger Corman, Forrest Ackerman, John Sayles, and Dick Miller.  It even features a meatier cameo by John Carradine.  It’s all part of Dante’s collective homage to the genre plus as many silly gags as he can pack in.

It’s been eons since I’ve seen An American Werewolf in London, but I’m guessing that I ought to queue that up right soon for sharper contrast.  1981 also featured another notable killer wolf film, Wolfen, which isn’t actually a werewolf movie, though you kind of have to work your way through it to find that out.  I always actually considered it the best of the three.  Though oddly enough, no werewolves mean no transformation scenes.

Today, digital effects make the “anything” possible.  I think that werewolves, in movies in which the transformation is still the key element of the narrative, still take their direction from these 1981 films.  Though more and more digitized werewolves seem to forgo the gory detail of transformation, instead morphing in split seconds in the no-nonsense immediacy of “Zap! Now I’m a werewolf!”  Where’s the fun in that?

Neon Maniacs (1986)

Neon Maniacs (1986) movie poster

director Joseph Mangine
viewed: 07/10/2013

“Now let me get this straight. You’re telling me that these, these things are inside the Golden Gate Bridge, one. Two, that they only come out at night. And three, that they’re responsible for the death of fifteen or more kids and three of my police officers?”

This highly bizarre and highly obscure 1986 horror film has a lot of wacky things going for it.  It features a litany of wonderfully weird killers from another dimension each made up with their own unique prosthetic characteristics.  And they “live” under the Golden Gate Bridge.  And this film, coming out as it did in 1986, is the heart of the 1980’s and everything from the music, the actors, the effects, everything is just so…Eighties.  They are “Neon” Maniacs, you know.

On the weak side, these strange killers from another dimension are all dissolvable by regular ordinary water.  Though, they do seem to be able to regenerate afterwards.  I guess if water is your kryptonite, it’s probably good to have a back-up plan.  Rain, puddles, water pistols…  But in this case it’s all good.  This majorly flawed flaw just sort of adds the film’s goofy charm.

There is never much explanation about why any of this is happening.  Where these guys come from, why they are all so specifically caricatures of things.  Even the ending is sort of half-finished.  There is no resolution.  Not every one of the creatures is killed.  It’s just a sort of hanging participle.

The film was in fact shot in parts in San Francisco.  The Golden Gate Bridge is where these guys originate.  And there is a rather amusing subway sequence in the Muni stations.  It begins at Embarcadero station and finishes up at Church Street Station, which has some charm for a local who rides through those spots almost daily.  These are the old orange and white Boeing Muni cars (plus a bit of movie magic that makes them seem like the trains run several cars longer than they ever did.  Also they pretend to show people running between cars (which you could do on BART) but can’t on Muni vehicles.

Other movie magic is in all other shots of the film because clearly it was only those sequences that were filmed in San Francisco.  I’m not complaining here, just observing.

The film is so goofy and bizarre that it transcends its badness.  It’s a true jewel of weird 1980’s obscure trash cinema.

Bluebeard (1972)

Bluebeard (1972) movie poster

director Edward Dmytryk
viewed: 07/07/2013

When I embarked on my mini Bluebeard moviethon, oddly enough it was this 1972 Edward Dmytryk-directed Richard Burton-starring film that was lingering at the back of my mind.  For whatever reason, I recalled it being an older film, not relatively contemporary, which it must have been when I saw it in the 1970’s/1980’s.  Howsoever I saw it, howsoever I remembered it, I’m almost positive that this was the film that was in my brain.

I mainly recalled the discovery of the many wives by the young current wife of the evil nobleman and then the recounting of the deaths of his numerous prior brides in their unique details.  I read now that this was perhaps influenced by Italian Giallo films, but at the time would have been more recognizable to me as akin somewhat to the camp and gothic horror of Hammer horror films.  Because the film is indeed campy, gothic, and strange.

What was more surprising to me this viewing than anything was the high titillation nudity of the many female stars.  In ironic retrospect, that may be what the film is actually most remembered.  I probably saw it edited for television and could only follow the sexual subtext without appreciating the topless actresses.

Richard Burton plays the Bluebeard of the film, with beard of blue.  He’s a 20th Century figure, a WWI air hero now turned Nazi.  He’s also given some explicit reasoning behind his murderous misogyny.  He’s impotent.  And obsessed with his mother.

The film has the odd structure of the main narrative taking up the first half of the film, which includes his wedding to Joey Heatherton, who plays his current wife and main protagonist.  When she discovers his frozen vault of dead wives, she vies for time against his need to kill her as well in getting him to speak at length on what led to the deaths of his many other women.  The second half is the series of flashbacks showing his wives as obnoxious, feminist, over-sexed, bisexual, or merely shallow, all reasons he cites for their various executions.  Heatherton does get to call him on this, though it falls in between misogyny and a critique of misogyny.

The film features a very nice score by Ennio Morricone.  It also features Raquel Welch, Sybil Danning, Nathalie Delon, Agostina Belli and others as the sexy (often topless) women he is driven to kill.

It’s far from a great movie.  It’s overlong and gets tedious.  But it jangled something in the old cobweb-encrusted mind.  So strange.