Sunday, April 14, 2013

In the Folds of the Flesh (Sergio Bergonzelli, 1970)

Is anyone mentally sound in the cloistered world of In the Folds of the Flesh? I, for one, hope everyone is completely meshuganah. But then again, I prefer to watch movies where a large percentage of the cast are playing characters that have been recently diagnosed as clinically insane. Strangely enough, the only people who seem to have their mental shit together in this movie are the seemingly unending concourse of creeps and lowlifes who show up at the door of the only family on the block who have a room set aside solely for the disposal of dead bodies. Come for the incest and squawking vultures, stay for mid-rape decapitations and sickly subterranean acid baths. In fact, if everyone wasn't so stylish, I would have probably ran straight for the nearest exit the second the crazy chick in the blonde wig started to freak out when I tried to touch her "hair." If you must know why I tried to touch it, I guess I was just curious to know how soft it was. One guy paid the ultimate price for touching her "hair," as his head is no longer sitting atop the area where human heads normally sit. That's right, it was forcibly removed seconds after he pulled her wig off and proceeded to do the "I've got Falesse's hair" victory dance (I'll explain who Falesse is in a minute). Then again, what do you expect from a guy who wears an orange turtleneck sweater in the middle of the day? My sentiments exactly. Speaking of gaudy clothing, like I said, everyone in this film who is not a creep or a lowlife is stylish, and the best example of this stylishness are the shirts worn by Emilio Gutiérrez Caba. Making my eyes bleed a syrupy, chic-like substance every time they appeared on-screen, the shirts worn by this sick twist were off the charts in terms of busyness. At times he looks like he should be selling bongs in Haight-Ashbury, while other times he looked like he should be playing bass in the Zombies, especially when he's wearing that turtle green Nehru shirt-jacket. Wait, if this particular garment is "turtle green," shouldn't he be playing bass in the Turtles? I'd appreciate it if you didn't contradict me in front of everyone like that. Whatever.
Either way, you're both wrong. You see, the Turtles dressed like slobs (at least they did in the pictures I've seen), and the Zombies usually wore beatwear (natty suits with skinny ties). No, what I think you're looking for as far as allusions go is Strawberry Alarm Clock, as I can totally see the shirts Emilio Gutiérrez Caba wears throughout In the Folds of the Flesh (a.k.a Nelle Pieghe della Carne) being worn by the "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow" band at the height of their...pillowiness.
All right, now that we've cleared that up. Is it okay if I go ahead and try to decipher the convoluted head trip/fashion show/pseudo-giallo that is this movie? Are you talking to me? If so, than, yeah. Go for it!
First off, who keeps vultures as pets? This family's taste in pets is almost as quirky as their fashion sense. *snap* At any rate, don't ask me happens what goes on during the film's pre-opening credits body burying montage, 'cause I have no idea what Lucille (Eleonora Rossi Drago), the brunette alpha-milf who seems to be the one in charge when it comes to disposing the myriad dead bodies that seem to always need burying at this palatial villa located on the outskirts of a fever dream.
Told via flashback, Lucille is digging a hole for yet another decapitated man, when, all of a sudden, a fugitive from justice named Pascal (Fernando Sancho) wanders onto her property while trying to evade capture. Noticing a sexy woman burying something in the woods, Pascal stops to watch as she dumps what looks like the body of a male human in the hole she just dug. Eventually caught by the police, Pascal gives Lucille the stink-eye as he is being lead away in handcuffs. Even though Pascal doesn't tell the cops what he saw, you know he'll be back to cause trouble.
Who knew it would take thirteen years. But that's exactly what occurs, as we flash-forward thirteen years to find Lucille, looking the same as she did when we first met her, doing what she does best. No, not burying headless bodies. Gardening in black clothing. 
Unexpectedly, it's Michel, not Pascal, who's the first to pay Lucille a visit. A man with some sort of connection to the family, Michel meets Lucille, who, like I said, is a sexy brunette, her son Collin (Emilio Gutiérrez Caba), and her daughter Falesse (Pier Angeli). While they're getting acquainted, Michel's German Shepherd is getting all up in the beaky grills of Kiki and Kyoko, Lucille's pet vultures. Seriously, who keeps vultures as pets?
While Pier Angeli makes an electrifying first appearance (she's wearing a yellow fur number), I was disappointed by what Emilio Gutiérrez Caba had on in his debut scene as an adult (we see him briefly as a child during the film's opening sequence). Never fear fans of outre fashion, Emilio is seen wearing that turtle green, Nehru-style shirt jacket (with a bling-friendly gold necklace) that I mentioned earlier once the action moves inside.
As I was admiring the cut of his shirt jacket (actually, I think it's more of a jacket, than it is a shirt, but really, who cares?), I couldn't help notice that Collin was mock devouring one of Falesse's feet. Aren't they supposed to be brother and sister? Maybe I'm being prudish, but I don't think siblings should mock devour anything. Nevertheless, I dug Collin's look, and the slinky polka-dot number Falesse has since changed into.
Spoiler alert. Is that correct way to do it? Just say, "spoiler alert"? Should I write in all caps? Whatever. I've never seen anyone strangle a dog to death before. And I must say, it's pretty messed up. However, to the surprise of virtually no-one, Falesse stabs Michel while he's wearing the world's gaudiest bathrobe. Why she did it, I'm not sure. Nonetheless, the sight of Pier Angeli hovering over Michel's dead body holding a dagger in her hand was kinda awesome. 
Another man named Alex, a friend of Michel's, wearing an orange turtleneck, shows up the following morning. I wonder what's going to happen to him? Get real, you know exactly what's going to happen to him. While we're being real, let's be frank as well. If you're a man and you happen to wander onto the property belonging to Lucille, the queen of the ice milfs, there's a good chance your genitals will be soaking in a giant vat of acid when all is said and done.
It should be pointed out that Pier Angeli wears a yellow top with a yellow neck scarf (check out the matching yellow pumps) and a leopard-print vest and skirt. If that sounds like the greatest ensemble ever to be assembled in an Italo-Spanish co-production, one that opens with a Sigmund Freud quote, you're right, it absolutely is.  
Even though Alex is a "parasite," Collin's words, not mine, I liked the way he owned his parasitic nature. Telling Falesse straight up that he plans on seducing her, the way his says, "I'm no amateur... I've got technique" made my skin crawl. But in an odd way, I admired his confidence.
While entertaining Alex for dinner, Falesse has since changed into a belly revealing all-black number (one that includes black nylons). But it's Collin who steals the show with his puffy shirt covered in swirling waves of orange and red. As I watched him touch his sister in a manner that could best be described as "inappropriate," I had this sudden urge to listen to some King Crimson on my aging hi-fi. Yeah. In fact, I want to wear this particular shirt while listening to "Moonchild" sitting cross-legged in the vicinity of a babbling brook.
Note to self: If I'm ever in bed with Falesse, make sure to keep an eye on her at all times. She will cut your head off when you're not looking. But most importantly, don't touch her hair; only her father can touch her hair. Okay, if you do end up touching her hair, which is actually a wig. Whatever you do, don't pull it off. If you start doing a dance while holding her wig that is clearly designed to ridicule her, then you're just asking to have your head cut off.
Mental illness was obviously viewed differently in 1970. All you have to do is take one look at the brief looney bin montage that appears at the film's midway point to figure this out. Despite the fact that most of the women are merely misunderstood lesbians with wild imaginations (in other words, completely sane), this short segment, on top of giving us concrete proof that there is in deed life beyond the walls of the villa, acts as an excellent showcase for costume designer Giuseppe Cesare Monello, the real hero in the In the Folds of the Flesh universe.
Misunderstood lesbian #1: Snowflake Girl. Outfit: An orange cardigan paired with a saucy black beret. Ideal location for a first date: An ice rink. Misunderstood lesbian #2: Paperdoll Girl. Outfit: Brown and gold floral blouse. Ideal location for a first date: An arts and crafts trade show.
Misunderstood lesbian #3: Toga Girl. Outfit: A purple and orange toga. Ideal location for a first date: The Danforth. Misunderstood lesbian #4: Nana Mouskouri Girl. Outfit: Glasses and a black dress with black boots. Ideal location for a first date: Duh, The Danforth. Misunderstood lesbian #5: Laughing Girl. Outfit: A brown sweater. Ideal location for a first date: The movies.
Misunderstood lesbian #6: Doll Girl. Outfit: A floral dress that features at least three types of blue. Ideal location for a first date: Toys "R" Us. Misunderstood lesbian #7: Lili Taylor Girl. Outfit: A red cardigan over a black turtleneck. Ideal location for a first date: I'm going to say, something Lili Taylor-related (Mini-golf with a John Joan Cusack type). Misunderstood lesbian #8: Glove Girl a.k.a. Eurotrash Maureen McCormick (María Rosa Sclauzero). Outfit: Pastel-coloured dresses and white gloves. Ideal location for a first date: Church or Brady Fest '95. 
When Pascal, the brutish fugitive from thirteen years ago, finally does show up at the villa, it's been sufficiently established that all male visitors are doomed to have their heads chopped off. In other words, it's Pascal, not Lucille, Falesse (nicknamed "Chickadee" by Pascal), and Collin (Pascal simply calls him "Brat"), who we should be worried about. Only problem being, all the men who seem to show up are basically scumbags. Nonetheless, as Pascal's blackmail scheme gets underway, we learn more about this family's demented past. Sexual abuse, tartan skirts, vultures, swings, mobsters, cynanide baths, shoot outs, and Nazis, they're all trotted out for our psychosexual amusement. If you like your camp high, your fashion bold, and your women batshit crazy, you should definitely check out In the Folds of the Flesh; I give it five busy shirts out of twenty-five, and eleven gaudy bathrobes out of forty-two.

uploaded by StrangeVice1


  1. The Cannes Film Festival should add two new awards named after you: "Prix du Yum-yum du costume" and "Prix du Yum-yum du décor." They should also award prizes retroactively. No one truly loves the cinematic arts of set and costume design, and expresses it as deeply, as you do.

    This film sounds wacky.

    All those poor misunderstood lesbians locked up in mental institutions in the 19th and 20th century. They were only being completely sane by being sexually attracted to women. Wouldn't misunderstood lesbian #7 be happier mini-golfing with Joan Cusack instead of John? That might throw her recovery off.

  2. Thanks, ido, I appreciate that. :) I think a certain someone deserves some mid-week Lung Leg.

    Ah, Joan Cusack!!! What the hell was I thinking?!? I'm changing that motherscratcher right this minute...

  3. "mid-week Lung Leg."



    I'm sure Misunderstood Lesbian #7 (let's just call her Megan) is much happier now. Playing mini-golf, some Tekken Tag 2 in the arcade (her Leo/Kunimitsu team is fucking sick), and getting pizza afterwards.

  4. I just noticed that Misunderstood les... I mean, Megan, looks like she's holding a pez dispenser in the pic I provided. Weird. Anyway, let's get you some mid-week Lung Leg, shall we?