Italy - Spain | 1970
Directed by Sergio Bergonzelli
Eleonora Rossi-Drago
Pier Angeli
Fernando Sancho
Color, B&W
| 87 Minutes | Not Rated
Format: DVD (R0 - NTSC)
Severin Films
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Guest Review by Troy Howarth
A killer knocks off various people unfortunate enough to visit with a weird family in a secluded castle...
    It's been called one of the most bizarre gialli ever made. No doubt for some fans of the genre, that's enough. For this reviewer, however, being bizarre isn't always a good thing. In the Folds of the Flesh packs more sheer strangeness and offbeat elements into its not-always-action-packed 87 minutes than a dozen more restrained gialli combined, but so what? Without an interesting story, compelling characters or enough sheer directorial elan to keep things afloat, this one's a real snoozer.
    Director Sergio Bergonzelli made a number of unhinged contributions to the Italian cult film scene one of his last titles is the obscure Blood Delirium (1988), which features John Phillip Law as a nutcase who believes himself to be the reincarnation of Vincent Van Gogh! but few would make any serious arguments on behalf of his artistic gifts. Certainly, he seems to have approached this particular title with the desire to make the giallo to out-weird any other giallo in the then-current marketplace... No mean feat when one looks at the sheer volume of titles proliferating screens in light of the smash success of Dario Argento's stylish debut, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1969). If this was his only intention, he certainly succeeded. What I can't figure out is, how does a film this jam-packed with WTF moments end up being so deadly dull. The film crawls at a pace that would make Jess Franco at his most lethargic anxious to pick up a pair of trimming scissors. The actors wander through the sets with an air of bewildered bemusement, never seeming to understand what they're in the midst of performing. Then there's the story try as I may, I'll be damned if I can make much sense of it. There are plenty of flashbacks to black and white footage of Nazi atrocities (fortunately, of the staged variety Bergonzelli doesn't prove so distasteful as to use real concentration camp footage), some wonderfully tacky looking decapitation action, a nice smattering of nudity, elements of incest, pet vultures, you name it. That it doesn't make a lot of sense doesn't surprise, perhaps, but it becomes a bit wearing as the film grinds towards its inevitable final twist.
    The cast includes a few familiar faces, none of whom are seen to their best advantage. One time Hollywood hopeful Pier Angeli (Somebody Up There Likes Me, 1956) one year away from her death from a drug overdose looks tired and worn out as the mentally unbalanced Ester. Her role requires her to change moods more often than she changes hairstyles, but she was either too unwell or too disinterested to make anything of it; it doesn't help, either, that she looks way too old to be playing a character presumably meant to be in her early-to-mid 20s. Eleanora Rossi-Drago (Dorian Gray, 1970), only seven years Angeli's senior, is unlikely casting as her mother; according to the IMDb, Ms. Drago retired from the screen following this film, so that perhaps says it all. Fernando Sancho, the jovially sleazy character actor familiar from the likes of Amando De Ossorio's Return of the Evil Dead (1973) and Jess Franco's X-312: Flight To Hell (1970), adds some much needed energy as yet another despicable sort. Paul Naschy veteran Victor Alcazar (AKA Vic Winner, Cemetery Girls, 1972) puts in a brief appearance as a sexual blackmailer.
    Viewers looking for weirdness for its own sake will no doubt find more entertainment value, but for this reviewer In the Folds of the Flesh is one of the worst gialli of its period.

Severin presents In the Folds of the Flesh for the first time on DVD in the United States, in a fully uncut edition. The 1.85/16x9 transfer looks very good on the whole, though the source element has some splice marks and other signs of damage. Colors are vivid, detail is acceptable and all the sleaze appears to be intact. The mono English soundtrack is a bit flat but it gets the job done. Jesus Villa Rojo's uninspired, sometimes inappropriately jaunty score comes through well enough, while the often laughable English dubbing adds to the air of insanity. Extras are limited to a theatrical trailer. 11/29/08