Malabimba
Italy | 1979
Directed by Andrea Bianchi
Starring
Katell Laennec
Mariangela Giordano
Patrizia Webley
Color
| 88 Min.| Not Rated
Format: DVD (R0 - NTSC)
Severin Films
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3
    7   10 = Highest Rating  
Guest Review by Troy Howarth
A young girl (Katell Laennec) is possessed by the vindictive spirit of her dead mother...
   
This slice of Eurosleaze by Andrea Bianchi, the infamous director of Burial Ground (1980), is heavy on the sleaze but doesn't offer much else. The story takes its cue from The Exorcist (1973) but doesn't offer many original concepts along the way. The ill-defined protagonist is established as lonely, naive and overly sheltered, but her possession is too jarring and sudden to make much of an impact. Instead the film wallows in prurient shock tactics as she bares her body in front of a family gathering, swears like a drunken sailor, gives fellatio to her paralyzed uncle, tries to slip her father the tongue and ultimately attempts to seduce her aunt (Mariangela Giordano), who happens to be a pious nun. Amid all this, various seedy characters conspire and hop from one bed to another while vying for control of the familial castle. Bianchi goes out of his way to make the most of the various sapphic interludes, but the ill-advised decision to splice in hardcore inserts featuring different actors adds little to the proceedings the 'action' has little oomph compared to the comparatively restrained original material, and it's more of a distraction than a plus.
    On the plus side, the cast features three beauties who add to the film's pictorial value. Young Katell Laennec in reportedly her first and last role is quite fetching as the possessed Lolita; with her boyish haircut and petite build, she gives off an androgynous vibe but her soft features and wicked smile are quite alluring. She does a competent job in the role, but the sketchy writing doesn't do her any favors. Buxom blonde bombshell Patrizia Webley (Salon Kitty) is required to wear too much makeup, but fortunately she doffs her clothes at the drop of a hat. Mariangela Giordano (Satan's Baby Doll) isn't as pixieish as Laennec or as, um, well-endowed as Webley but she's a lovely woman just the same, and she does her best in what constitutes the film's most well-developed character; the scene of Laennec seducing her, leading to the film's climax, generates the most heat. Beyond that, the cast is as nondescript as the film itself. Bianchi's direction is mostly flat and functional he works in a few dolly and crane shots, but much of the film is static and carelessly composed. Technical credits are bland at best, with the score by Berto Pisano and Elsio Mancuso sounding like it was cobbled together from earlier Eurohorrors (one piece sounds a lot like a theme from Mel Welles' similarly sleazy, but infinitely more entertaining, Lady Frankenstein).
    Destined to appeal only to the most ardent Eurosleaze fanatics, Malabimba gets a few points for pure eye candy, but as a film it's strictly amateur hour.

Severin's release of Malabimba is more than adequate. The 1.85/16x9 transfer looks as good as the cinematography will allow: much of Franco Villa's lighting is harsh and unremarkable, making poor use of the atmospheric castle locale, but the print materials are in good condition overall. The color palette leans toward earthen tones, and the black levels do justice to the shadows. Some scratching and other minor print damage is in evidence, but overall the film looks as good as can be reasonably expected. The DVD allows one to watch the "integral" cut when selected, this option incorporates some footage (in very rough condition) cut from the original release. The footage is of marginal interest and doesn't add much to the already sketchy plotline, but it's a nice option to have. The mono Italian audio is acceptable the dialogue is often not in synch with the movie, suggesting it may have been shot in English or heavily rewritten during the dubbing phase, at the very least. The music and sound effects are reasonably strong.
   
Extras include a theatrical trailer, the aforementioned "integral" option, and a featurette-length interview with Giordano and cinematographer Franco Villa. Both interviewees come across as agreeable and enthusiastic about the film, with Villa bemoaning the decision to splice in hardcore porn inserts into what he deems to be a "respectable" movie. 10/25/07
UPDATE This disc was withdrawn from the market less than a year after its debut (when a non-hardcore version was released), but was later reissued.
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