Sunday, October 7, 2012

Delirium: Photo of Gioia (Lamberto Bava, 1987)

It's been said that fashion is a cutthroat business, but no-one ever said anything about being attacked by a swarm of angry bees. Slice my neck with a kitchen knife, if you must. But, I beg you, not the bees; not only am I deathly allergic to them, my corpse will look all puffy when all is said and done (and no-one wants to penetrate a puffy corpse). Mixing two of my favourite things: fashion and murder, the exceedingly stylish Delirium: Photo of Gioia is here to satisfy my misguided desire to watch people who work in the fashion industry slaughtered without mercy. Misguided desire? Are you sure it's misguided? I mean, it sounds like it's the complete opposite of misguided, if you ask me. Misguided or not, no doubt taking his cues from Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace and Andrea Bianchi's Strip Nude for Your Killer, writer-director Lamberto Bava grabs the giallo by its big, overly teased hair and drags it kicking and screaming into the 1980s. While I'm a fan of '60s and '70s fashion, I'm an even bigger fan of '80s fashion. Shot in 1986, the year the decade really started to come into its own, the film is inundated with the kooky styles and bold trends that made the era such an exciting time to be alive. Of course, there are always going to be those out there lurking nowhere near the fringes of society who will label the mid-1980s as a dark time, one that should be tossed in the dustbin of human history. But I can't argue or reason with people who were born with bad taste, so I won't bother trying defend some of the fashion choices that are made in this movie. Instead, I'll do what I normally do, and that is, celebrate the decade's clothing and those with the curves worthy enough to fill them. Did you say, "curves"? That's right, Timmy, I sure did. You see, to wear the clothes seen throughout this motion picture, you're going to need to be a woman. Okay, that sort of makes sense. But you could be more succinct? 'Cause I'm not following. What I mean is, you can't have the body of ten year-old boy and expect to be able to pull off the fierce garments worn around, oh, let's say, the offices of Pussycat Magazine, the sleazy men's magazine at the centre of this expertly crafted giallo. 
The chic outfits featured throughout this movie, a dizzying array of black leather skirts and sharp blazers for the gal on the go, seem like they were tailor-made for the structurally intimidating Serena Grandi. In other words, I doubt they would look good on some ninety pound boy-woman with no hips.
A slideshow of pool side glamour shots of Serena Grandi taken during her character's days as a model are what greet us at the beginning of Delirium: Photo of Gioia. You mean she's not a model anymore? No, Serena's Gioia now runs Pussycat Magazine, much to the chagrin of Flora (Capucine), her former mentor.
Overseeing a photo shoot similar to the style of the photo montage that featured pictures of herself lounging pool side in nothing but diamonds and red high heel shoes, Gioia watches as a younger model named Kim (Trine Michelsen) pose in her pool alongside two other models (including the gorgeous Marcia Sedoc). Taking the pictures is Roberto (David Brandon) and the guy barking orders is Gioia's brother Tony (Vanni Corbellini). Since she hasn't been properly introduced (a Gia Carangi-esque photo montage doesn't really count), Lamberto Bava slowly pans up Serena Grandi's legs whilst they were in the process of being crossed. Hey, man, that's unnecessarily perverted! Don't be silly. We're watching Gioia through the eyes of Mark (Karl Zinny), the wheelchair bound voyeur who lives next-door, so it's a totally justified.
You mean to tell me that this Mark fella's bedroom overlooks the backyard where Serena Grandi, and, not to mention, Daria Nicolodi (she plays "Evelyn," Gioia's live-in assistant), sit on patio furniture with their legs crossed? Yep, it's looks that way. Holy shit. I know, it's a pretty sweet set-up. Well, except for the whole confined to a wheelchair bit. But other than that, he's one lucky peeping tom. Not content with merely watching, Mark gives Gioia the occasional call on the telephone. And get this, she doesn't seem to mind. Oh, sure, she'll eventually hang up on your pervy ass when your harassment starts to cross the line (the moment he begins talking about her non-existent panties was the deal breaker during this particular call). But, for the most part, she seems to enjoy the attention; being a former model, she probably misses the over the top adulation.
After Kim has toweled off and changed into something more comfortable (a blue dress with holes down the side), Gioia, who's wearing a tropical themed top with a black skirt, invites her team to stay for dinner. It's only scene number two (number three if you count the photo montage that opened the film) yet I'm already having trouble keeping my gayness under control. The simple sight of Serena Grandi just pacing back and forth in her living room was enough to send me over the edge. I don't know, there's something about the way she walks in this film that drove me mad; and I mean that in a good way.
What's this? Oh, look. A killer is stalking Kim as she leaves Gioia's house. Yawn. Wait a second. Ahh! Her face is a giant eyeball. Kudos, Lamberto Bava. I had no idea this film was gonna contain eyeball-faced models. And, just like that, boom, you give us a model with an eyeball for a face. Sure, she's stabbed with a pitchfork, but the eyeball face and the use of bright colours are what make this scene so memorable.
Is it green or is it sea green, I'll let you decide. But whatever it is, the jacket Gioia wears to work the following day is chic beyond belief. Paired, as usual, with a black skirt (the collar and buttons are black as well), Gioia enters the Pussycat offices with a curvy brand of confidence (she has no idea Kim was pitchforked to death last night in her backyard). Unable to avoid a meeting with her former mentor, Gioia reluctantly meets with Flora, who, like I said, wants to buy Pussycat from her. When Gioia refuses, Flora tells her, "The hate of a woman can be very bad," before storming off in one of those huff thingies.
In order to keep the audience guessing, Flora's angry exist is immediately followed by a scene that sports a mysterious figure taking a photo of Kim's dead body in front of a giant photo of Gioia; a photograph similar to the one's that are featured in the film's opening. Is the bitter Flora killing Gioia's models? It's too early to say. But judging by the way she's acting, someone wants us to believe she's the prime suspect. Soon Gioia is made aware of the dead Kim propped up in front of a picture of Gioia photo when it arrives at the Pussycat offices.
Shocked by the bloody image, Gioia should take no solace whatsoever in the fact that Inspector Corsi (Lino Salemme) is on the case. Why so solace, you ask? He's useless. Hell, he doesn't even bother to compliment Gioia on her white blouse/red leather skirt ensemble. I know. And he calls himself an Italian man. What a joke. Anyway, Kim's body finally shows up in a dumpster outside a newsstand that, ironically, had just received the issue of Pussycat with her on the cover.
Now wearing a red blouse with a black skirt, Gioia is visibly uncomfortable when she is informed, by Mark of all people, that the issue with Kim on the cover is, to use his bland language, "selling like hot cakes." Someone who is obviously not uncomfortable is Evelyn, who immediately tells the printer to make more copies. 
I want the black, blue and pink sweater dress with the Jack of hearts playing card motif Flora's assistant wears in the scene after they find Kim's body.
Arriving at a movie studio, wearing a black leather jacket, a black leather skirt, black pumps, and black nylons, Gioia walks around, the sound of her heels echoing throughout the cavernous building, until she meets a red herring, I mean, a former lover, named Alex (George Eastman), an actor who is working on what looks like a fantasy flick (he's dressed like a barbarian). At any rate, I don't know how he managed to do it, but this Alex dude is having hot tub sex with Gioia in no time.
The reason Gioia was at the studio was to check out the location for the magazine's latest photo shoot. Featuring Sabrina (Sabrina Salerno), the hottest model in the business, the shoot involves Sabrina, who is dressed in leopard-print shorts (the ends are frayed to create this sort of Betty Rubble effect) and nothing much else (oh, I almost forgot, she's also wearing a leopard print headband), being molested by a couple of guys dressed as mummies.
Even though I've been wracking my brain for hours, I think it's safe to say that the red blouse paired with a black leather skirt is my favourite Serena Grandi look in Delirium: Photo of Gioia; I also liked the way she wore her hair with this particular get-up. Actually, anytime Serena wears a leather skirt is a time to celebrate, because she looks like she was born to wear leather skirts. 
We get our second "WTF murder sequence" when the killer unleashes a swarm of bees while Sabrina Salerno is getting ready for bed; complete with a giant insect head and close-up shots of stingers piercing her supple flesh. As expected, Sabrina's body is posed in front of the blown up picture of Gioia the same way Kim's body was. When Gioia finds out, she's horrified. I was horrified as well. But my horror had more to do with the fact that Gioia was wearing pants. Yeah, that's right. Pants! I actually felt sick when I saw what she wearing. Trousers are not a good look for Serana Grandi. Neither is naked (the stress of the past couple of days causes Gioia to take a naked schvitz).
As the film begins to wind down, and Gioia dons her last black leather skirt (paired with a green blouse), we're reminded that top heavy Italian babes who love leather don't make for the most ideal of final girls. That's why it always helps to have voyeuristic marksmen who aim for the crotch in your corner. Sure, there's a good chance your designer garter belt could get drenched in blood as a result of this unseemly alliance. But you're a rich former model who runs her own magazine, you can afford to buy more lingerie.   
What do have here? It would seem that Flora is at home watching, utilizing the world's biggest VCR, a Naziploitation movie Gioia starred in some time ago. Yeah, so what? Take a close look at what her assistant is wearing. Well, I'll be damned. She's wearing black hold-up stockings. I don't why she is wearing hold-up stockings, or even the name of the actress who plays the assistant, I'm just thankful for all little miracles sprinkled throughout this soul-enriching chunk of Italian trash. And you can't get any more soul-enriching than the randomness of the assistant's hold-up stockings; it's like a gift, a soft, nylon-infused gift. Which, in a perverted sort of way, is the perfect way to describe my feelings about Italian cinema. No matter how asinine or shoddy they may appear sometimes, Italian films always manage to put a smile on my dimple-free face, and Delirium: Photo of Gioia is no different in that regard. Bravo!


  1. Oh baby, this movie is hot as shit! I love it. Great review man. Eyeball face has always been one of my favorites (I even did some artwork for it on my blog). You can't go wrong with this cast man, you just can't! Grandi is a goddess to be worshiped. Nicolodi is a goddess to be worshiped. Sabrina is a slut to be fucked. Ect, ect... David Brandon, George Eastman, KARL ZINNY! Great psychedelic scenes, totally hot Italian weirdness and a great period for Lamberto Bava to strike some sleazy gold.

  2. Bravo to you! This is a great write-up. DELIRIUM has been on my radar for years but it keeps moving further and further down the must-watch list for whatever reason, and now I feel inclined to watch it sooner than later thanks to your review. Good stuff.

  3. I just watched this again last night thanks to this review. This movie is fantastic... absolutely fantastic!

  4. Damn. After reading that review, and then watching that preview, complete with music, I'm surprised you didn't melt into a puddle of molten nylon and lip gloss after this one.

    Honestly though, why are people so rough on 80s fashions? I'm not into fashion at all and just wear black all the time. (i started watching Bergman films when i was 14 and decided that my world was in black and white.) But have "they" looked at the shit people wear today? Especially in the United States? I've lived in DC and then Southern California for the past four years. And it is fucking BAD.

    Anyway~~ have you seen Sergio Martino's "All the Colours of the Dark"? An excellent supernatural thriller, I guess it would be in the giallo genre. One of the many films he made with Edwige Fenech and George Hilton. I haven't seen the other two (also with cool titles), but they are on the "to watch" list. It is more gothic (inside my brain 24/7) but I think you'd enjoy it, and is VERY Italian. Ms. Fenech wears thigh high boots and flattering skirts the whole film.

  5. I think I was only vaugely aware of this film, but now it's at the top of my list of things to see. I always enjoy your in-depth reviews.

  6. @DrunkethWizerd: Kudos for putting the owl head killer from Stage Fright together with the eyeball face Model from Delirium. They're a match made in giallo heaven.

    @Aaron: Thanks, Aaron

    @DrunkethWizerd: Cool.

    @ido: Tell me about it. :D

    You can't go wrong with all black.

    After taking a quick look at some screen shots, I've decided to add All the Colours of the Dark to my list. I don't recall seeing it in the giallo section at my local video store, but I'm sure it will be easy to track down.

    @Mr. Xploit, Esquire: Thanks. I'm glad you enjoy the in-depthiness.

  7. @Yum-yum: "All the Colours of the Dark" is an enchanting film. I think you'll really enjoy it. It made me abso-fucking-lutely giddy.

  8. Awesome post. This movie looks so colorful. A must watch for me!

  9. @ido: Giddy, eh? Well, you'll be happy to know I just got myself a copy All the Colours of the Dark. Boo ya! That's how I roll.

    @raculfright_13: Thanks. Yay! Pretty colours!

  10. I love you review and I linked up your site on mine, here is it.