Innocence and Desire / Innocenza e turbamento (1974)

3.0 out of 5

Massimo Dallamano, before his death in 1976, excelled as a director in pretty much every genre he engaged with. He would, in the course of little over a decade, work as cinematographer on the excellent Leonne westerns A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More before going on to helm such gems as Devil in the Flesh, What Have You Done to Solange? and Dorian Gray. Here, however, he enters the disreputable milieu of the sexy Commedia All' Italiana.

With a premise not unlike that of the painfully creepy Lover Boy Dallamano manages to lend Innocenza e turbamento a certain touch of sweetness and style that is often lacking somewhat among the whole Sins Within the Family type film. As a result, the film feels closer, in quality, to the wonderful Malizia.

A typecast Edwige Fenech gets to take her clothes off as a seductive stepmum while veteran Eurocrime favourite Vittorio Caprioli is cuckolded. Lionel Stander supports as a sex mad grandfather. However, it is neophyte Roberto Cenci who is the real revelation in this. He is great as an Oedipal seminarian.

Fans of Tinto Brass comedies would probably find much to like in this.

Bridge to Hell, A / Un ponte per l'inferno (1986)

1.0 out of 5

Whilst his peers were busy making Vietnam tinted Macaroni Combat movies in the sweaty jungles of the Philippines, Umberto Lenzi was hoofing it over to Yugoslavia to ill-advisedly work on a film at least ten years out of sync with the filone it would seemingly belong to.

Focusing on the erstwhile fixation with ruthless, bridge obsessed Nazi's and the heroic partisans who want to blow said bridges up, Bridge to Hell is a poorly constructed and contrary WWII movie - pieced together from a bit of this and a bit of that, to apparently spite the faddish preoccupation elsewhere with explosive Rambo clones.

Besides the Nazi Bridge that needs blowing up and a multi national parade of heroes who are on hand to duly oblige, Lenzi throws in footage from other films, an irksome anachronistic synthesizer score better used in a Soap Opera, Nuns who conceal Third Reich treasure and a bunch of extras who flail around yelling schnell, achtung and ja wohl before performing rather lame death throes.

A sorry mess of a movie from beginning to head scratching end, Bridge to Hell is nothing more than an inadequate footnote in Lenzi's oeuvre.

Senator Likes Women, The / All’Onorevole piacciono le donne (1972)

4.0 out of 5

Although Lucio Fulci was an emerging giallo maestro in 1972, his love of ribald humor spilled over the top in a gangster spoof he cowrote that year and a sex romp with the understated title of The Senator Likes Women. Sicilian comic Lando Buzzanca plays an ambitious politician with an uncontrollable urge to grab the posterior of every signorina in his path. Worse, he often can’t let go. What better therapy than to send this proto-Berlusconi to a retreat in a monastery—full of devout young nuns? The setup may hew too closely to Pasolini’s bawdy blasphemy The Decameron, made a year earlier, but it’s just as hilarious.

But the screwball antics are much more than a Booty Call Italian Style. In a sendup of Italy’s eternally fractious Parliament, the senator is a rising star of “the left-wing fringe of a right-wing movement in the centre party.” He’s spied on by the police, who are spied on by Secret Services, who are spied on by the Sicilian Mafia, who misread the situation as a coup d’état. Fulci’s cynicism is underlined with an inspired bit of casting that doubles as a visual joke: ogreish Lionel Stander, a corrupt cardinal in red satin finery, defames his office with every raunchy outburst.

Creatures from the Abyss / Plankton (1994)

5.0 out of 5

A truly detestable bunch of teenagers seek refuge aboard a ghost ship once the bestial Oceanographic research centre for a violent breed of aquatic alien creatures.

Cue hilarious approximations of the American slasher and its heavy handed tropes, cod roe miscarriages, bacofoil wallpaper, lots of tits, incredibly bad acting, fish eye POV, the worst case of food poisoning and subsequently the greatest vomiting sequence ever committed to celluloid.

Words simply cannot describe how gloriously inept, though strangely glossy and ridiculously engrossing Cerchi's film actually is.

Plankton is, quite possibly, the greatest film ever made.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics