Sunday, July 01, 2007
THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA (1971)
Why in the Hell does this film not click? All the elements are in place for a superb giallo- beautiful, often nude ladies (Barbara Bach, Claudia Auger, Barbara Bouchet); mysterious killer with odd modus operandi (needle through the back of the neck); interesting, almost futuristic looking locations (love those forward thinking 60’s architects) ; and a lead actor who is good onscreen and can actually act (Giancarlo Giannini). It’s very attractively packaged but it just never comes together. I think it might be the rather pedestrian story that is never very engaging. It’s the standard giallo murder mystery with no real twists and instead of feeling pretty but shallow (like some GOOD gialli can) it just feels dull and hollow. The story crawls along with far too many boring scenes between Giannini and his wife. I never once felt anything about any of the simple, blank characters and sadly this lack of concern cripples any suspense or interest in the goings on. I was mildly curious about the identity of the killer but once revealed it was only an eyebrow-raiser instead of a shocking discovery.
The most interesting thing about the story was Giannini’s police inspector realizing as the case drags on that he’s not cut out for this kind of work. And smartly the film shows us that he’s right! He’s actually a pretty terrible detective missing clues and accepting things he should be questioning. Indeed the only reason he manages to catch the killer at all is because the sick scumbag takes a liking to the cop’s own wife. Without that screw-up and the finding of a clue so obvious he’d have had to be blind to miss it he might never have found the criminal. It was interesting to see the main investigator be so out of his depth and aware of it but it was really the only point of interest.
On an odd note- the Blue Underground DVD cover has a quote from some thing called HORRORVIEW stating that THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA is ‘the best giallo ever made’. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest the writer of said quote has either never seen many movies in the genre or was stoned out of his gourd while watching this film. Hell! Maybe a bribe was involved?