= Highest Rating
is a strange giallo. Though murder figures in the plot,
the body count is low and there's no unseen, gloved killer stalking
the characters. It's really a sex film with a few suspense thriller
elements thrown in here and there. Its chief purpose is to show
off the nude bodies of gorgeous Euro-starlets Barbara Bouchet
(The Red Queen
Kills 7 Times, Don't Torture a Duckling)
and Rosalba Neri (Lady
Frankenstein, Slaughter Hotel).
I do not have a problem with this.
Bouchet stars as Greta Franklin, a young New Yorker who
takes a job as the secretary to Richard Stuart (Granger), an
eccentric American writer living in Italy. She arrives at Stuart's
Venetian villa and meets his Italian wife Eleonora (Neri), a
voracious nympho who swings both ways. When dressing for bed
that night, Greta is surprised by a hulking peeping tom outside
her window. It's Rocco, the brutish, retarded fisherman who
has a shack on the lagoon near the house. Richard laughs the
incident off, explaining that Rocco is a harmless simpleton,
then leaves his wife with Greta to "comfort" her. Eleonora drugs
Greta and seduces her, stripping off her nightclothes with a
lot of slow-motion hair tossing and languid moaning. (Neri is
very good at this.) Later, Greta is invited to join the private
party Richard and Eleonora are holding at the villa for a few
friends. It turns out to be an orgy, where once again Greta
is drugged. While watching a homemade porn flick with the Stuarts
and their randy friends, Greta catches a glimpse in the film
of someone she knows: Sally, a girl she went to college with.
By no coincidence, Sally was once Richard's secretary the
job's occupant before Greta, in fact and she's been missing
without a trace for months.
The Stuarts don't know that Greta and Sally were lesbian
lovers. Greta has taken the secretary job expressly as a means
of gaining entrance to the villa and doing some amateur sleuthing.
She thinks the Stuarts may have had something to do with Sally's
disappearance and has contacted a local police inspector with
her suspicions. In pursuit of clues within the house Greta also
picks up a weird vibe from the shifty-looking butler. The butler
couldn't have done it, could he? (How clich้!) Greta becomes
alarmed when she listens to the dictated tape recordings of
Richard's latest novel, a whodunit she's to transcribe in manuscript
form. Its plot concerns the murder of a young woman who was
working as the secretary to a writer whose friend takes then
takes the job to find out what happened to her. Obviously Richard,
perhaps in collusion with his kinky wife, is playing some serious
mind games with Greta. But why?
Until it unravels with a pat ending, Amuck!
serves up a mildly diverting guessing game amid its small pool
of suspects. Along the way we get a genuinely suspenseful sequence
set in the Venetian marshes, as Greta believes she's been set
up for an "accident" when she accompanies the Stuarts duck hunting.
Surprisingly for an Italian film of this ilk and period, there's
hardly any violence and only the teeniest bit of blood (Rocco
nails a live eel to a table and cuts it open); nothing you couldn't
see on basic cable. Some groovy Eurotrash music flavors the
soundtrack, including one kitschy tune in which a female singer
huskily breathes the word "Sexually!" over and over again. A
good theme for this movie, in fact... It's no coincidence that
the disc's chapters are queued to the major sex scenes involving
Neri and/or Bouchet these women are fine, jack, not a smidgen
of 'em surgically enhanced. They're good actors, too, even beneath
the English dubbing. Neri gets to play nasty, smoldering as
the perverse Eleonora. Bouchet's blonde goddess heroine, Greta,
is as plucky and determined (if also clumsy and naive) as she
is beautiful and sexy.
Forget the murder mystery. Just sit back and enjoy the natural
wonders of Europe. (P.S. - Can someone tell me why this flick
is called Amuck!? Translated, its
original Italian title is In Pursuit of Pleasure. Where
the hell they got the English title is a baffler.)
could have enjoyed those wonders much better with a decent transfer.
Alas, Eurovista's DVD of Amuck! looks
no better than a bootleg videotape, and a fullframe (1:33) pan
and scan one at that. There's plenty of print damage, loads of
grain in dark scenes, and even a couple of nasty picture drop-outs
that are especially annoying; skin tones often have a greenish
tinge. The disc's picture quality is quite a disappointment all
'round. (I suppose this was the best looking copy of the film
Eurovista could obtain.) The Mono audio track is generally intelligible
but suffers from audible hiss.
Where the disc comes
out a winner is in the Extras department. Nothing fancy here but
I enjoyed the offerings on hand. Two short video interviews with
Bouchet and Neri, shot in February 2001, are a nice compliment
to the feature. Talent bios of Granger and the two leading ladies
are included, as well as photo galleries of guess who! Bouchet
and Neri, containing stills from the film and a few nude magazine
photos. The most enjoyable extra turned out to be the catchy instrumental
music, mixed in stereo, that plays over the disc's menu screens.
Very groovy! These three tunes are not from Amuck!
but obviously some other European film. Wish I knew which. 6/04/01