Monday, March 15, 2010

Delirium (Renato Polselli, 1972)

The flesh and bone dangling effortlessly from their supple torsos help them move from one location to another with a graceful ease; the skimpy hemline, a minute piece of fabric in charge of keeping two highly sensitive areas hidden from view, while at the same time, accentuating what swings sexily below, struggles to maintain its composure, as the threat of a stiff breeze is perpetual; and a thin epidermal layer protects the protruding appendages from harsh atmospheric conditions and aggressive groping. These three things are the basic properties that make up the complicated infrastructure of an Italian woman's lower half, which is celebrated without a hint of shame in Delirium (a.k.a. Delirio Caldo), a remarkably seedy tribute to psychotic leg fetishists and the kooky women who love them. It should be said that some attention is put on the neck area (the pulsating focal point of most strangulation attempts), but it's the lithesome stems that garner the most scrutiny from our debased protagonist. I knew things were going to be exquisite, from a leggy point-of-view, right from the get-go, as the first thing we see are a pair of healthy female legs standing before a pub jukebox. Her thumbs are trying to find just the perfect piece of music to accompany the swaying instincts of her young calve muscles. Noticing this scintillating display from afar is Dr. Herbert Lyutak (Mickey Hargitay), a man who clearly has a profound hunger for freshly moisturized gams. The music she chooses is rendered unimportant (it sounds like the kind of thing you might hear in a West German fisting flick), as the mildly creepy doctor's perverted gaze has obviously clouded her judgment when it comes to not accepting rides from sleazy strangers.

Spouting some nonsense about driving her to a nightclub, the strano medico can barely contain himself, as he inundates his alluring passenger with an inspired collection of depraved leers and profane glances. Frustrated by the shortness of her skirt, she tolerates the unwholesome looks; basically chalking up as just one of those things you have to deal with when riding in cars with ambiguously European men. That is, until the leg grabbing starts. Discarding her chunky shoes, the nameless woman flees the vehicle and runs into the wilderness. Of course, Herb, with nary any effort, nonchalantly catches up to with her (he finds her flailing about near a smallish waterfall) and proceeds to accost her legs with the glee of a multi-handed molester. In other words: The beating and asphyxiation can wait, he's got some legs to feel up.

When the police are going through crime scene photos later that evening, we are shocked to see that the murdering doctor is working for the police as a criminal psychologist. Apparently, there have been a string of murders similar to the one I just overly described. What's strange for a movie like this is that we know who the killer is right from the start. However, every other murder that occurs in Delirium is staged with the killer off screen; implying that there is someone else out there killing young women in extremely short skirts.

In fact, there has to be, as we see Dr. Lyutak chatting with Miss Heindrich (Katia Cardinali) while another woman is murdered at a nearby location (so near, they can hear her screams).

Ignoring the fact that a witness saw Dr. Lyutak with the leggy jukebox woman (Stefania Fassio) on the night she was murdered, boasts an extensive knife collection, and has an overall threatening demeanor, the detectives in charge of solving this case seemed totally uninterested with things like "evidence" or "credible alibis." After all, the abnormal quack is pals with the lead investigator, while the shifty-looking parking lot attendant picked up milling about the crime scene is not. Plus, he has a mustache and urinates in public. This bit of investigative incompetence will no doubt frustrate audience members accustomed to seeing movies with levelheaded police work. I, on the other hand, found their stupidity to be hilarious.

The wacky home life of Dr. Lyutak is examined when we are introduced to Marzia (the alluring Rita Calderoni), the doctor's stressed out wife. Whether lounging nervously or suspiciously snooping through her husband's bloodied clothing, Marzia is probably the most fascinating character in the entire film. And I'm not just saying that because of her tendency to dream of lesbian threesomes. Okay, I am kinda saying that. The sight of her chained up, while her maid and niece Joaquine (Christa Barrymore) sixty-nine on the floor in front of her was quite awe-inspiring. It's just that her character is more open when it comes to acting deranged in public than her serial killing husband. Which makes sense since he's trying keep his unsavoury habit a secret, while she's being slowly consumed by the guilt that comes with being in love with a murderous fiend.

This guilt fuels the final third of the film, as we see Marzia's madness manifest itself while watching so-called normal couples frolicking in a shameless display of heterosexual harmony. Her unloved vagina, her husband's impotent cock, and a general feeling of unchecked hysteria have pushed her to the limits of her studded tether.

Pronto! Pronto! Pronto!

Filmmaker Renato Polselli (The Reincarnation of Isabel) uses the zoom lens on his kinky camera to capture this lunacy by getting all up in Miss Calderoni's attractive grill. He uses a similar technique when trying to capture Mickey Hargitay's many intense looks, but nothing beats the closeups of Rita's face whilst in the throws of insanity.

I have to say, the three main female victims in Delirium, while downright heroic when it came to being excessively leggy during precarious situations, were all pretty pathetic when it came to resisting their killers. The aggressively blonde Christa Barrymore and her awesome eyebrows (all the women in the Lyutak household have eyebrows to die for), while not a victim like the others, at least showed some spunk when it came her turn to get her crazy on.

While the depleted hemline length of the era is one of the reasons this film turned out to be a resounding success, you cannot discount the sight of Rita Calderoni completely losing it in a bedroom setting. A depraved classic.

video uploaded by GialloTrailers

Special thanks to the humanitarians over at MONDO 70: A Wild World of Cinema for introducing me to this succulent work of debased luminosity.


  1. On behalf of Mondo 70, you're very welcome. Have you dared try the American version yet, which makes our hero out to be a troubled 'Nam vet? I'm still hestiating.

  2. Yeah, I dared. Rita Calderoni is a 'Nam vet as well; she plays an Army nurse. Anyway, the American version has more violence, but unfortunately, less perversion.

  3. I'm a little late to the party, but I enjoyed the L&O-inspired analysis of Q: The Winged Serpent. I recently saw Mr. Moriarty in a filmed version of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie."

    The other half and I are about to get a new kitty, and we're debating names. In jest, he suggested Quetzalcoatl. Ha ha.

    We're still not caught up on Jeopardy! A friend of a friend from Aiken, SC was on recently, and from what I heard, he lost. :(

  4. The sight of Mr. Moriarty in anything non-L&O-related always freaks me out.

    I love pet names that are conceived in jest.

    I must have missed that particular Jeopardy! :(

    Speaking of answers and questions, why does Oprah's vagina and asshole speak with English accents?

  5. The contestant was introduced as being from Charlotte, NC. He didn't get the Lindbergh final jeopardy.

    I've been spoiled on the Anderson Cooper Jeopardy appearance. I hear Cheech Marin won. 420 FTMFW.

    I had a picture taken with a cardboard cutout Anderson Cooper. (We were at CNN headquarters in ATL.)

    So, I have to ask: What were East German fisting flicks like?

  6. I recall getting the Lindbergh one right, so I must have seen it. (I hope your pal of a pal wasn't the one who answered "Ernest Hemingway." ;))

    I just saw Cheech Marin on Anderson Cooper 360.

    FTMFW - For The Mother Fucking Win

    I'm no expect, but I think fisting flicks were outlawed in the former DDR. Okay, maybe not "outlawed," but they were definitely frowned upon.

    I watched a bit of a South Park episode last night that centered around a memoir writing towel and Oprah's neglected vagina.

  7. Yours aren't just reviews, they're stories: full of incident, quirk and hilariously gratuitious asides. I am blown away!

  8. Thanks, Alex B.

    I was just noodling with my review for Renato Polselli's Black Magic Rights; which has the exact same cast as Delirium.