Thursday, September 25, 2014

Collector's Item (La Gabbia)

Collector's Item (La Gabbia, The Trap) Starring Tony Musante, Directed By Giuseppe Patroni Griffi  (1985).

The first time I saw Tony Musante, he scared the shit out of me, playing a racist subway terrorist punk, along with Martin Sheen in The Incident. To me, he's never surpassed that role. He was also the lead in Dario Argento's landmark giallo, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, upstaged Franco Nero in The Mercenary  and later ended up on HBO's Oz. Before he starred in this film, he was in The Pope of Greenwich Village. Sadly, Musante died a year ago and was a very talented actor who will be missed.  

   I found this title leafing through the tattered catalog as usual, thinking this was just another "collectors item" from the famed Deep Red archives, but it turned out that it was just an alternate title for tonight's feature. It's an over stuffed manicotti, packed with all kinds of talented meatballs! 
  Let's see-- we got Lucio Fulci's chubby sausage fingers behind the typewriter, Roberto Leoni (the cowriter of Santa Sangre), Florinda Bolkan from Don't Torture a Duckling and Flavia The Heretic on board and Cristina (Opera) Marsillach. Also Morricone is slumming it again, providing the funky bass heavy score.
It's a bubbling cheesy lasagna crammed with all kinds of Italian Horror stars! 
And wouldn't you know, just in time for the holidays here at ToG Headquarters--it's Christmas time! Michael's (Musante) wife, played by Florinda has to go and visit their son on Christmas, leaving the door open for this letch to cheat on her.

Answer the door for your mystery date

   In Michael's apartment, they establish that someone behind a peephole is watching his every move. It turns out to be Marie Colbert (played by Laura Antonelli), a former lover of his. They flash back and forth to the past and present a lot during this film to illustrate their relationship. Young Marie is played by Cristina Marsillach, the girl whose eyelids were held open by scotch tape and nails in Argento's Opera. That actress is way too pretty to be believable as Marie Colbert, but it works to our benefit because we get to see her naked and she looks amazing!

Gorgonzola cheese by Calvin Klein

   This anonymous sexual encounter from the past, coincidentally has come back to roost and not in his favor. Fulci, you sly dog--you nailed it out of the park with the ultra-sleazy Devil's Honey--so I'm inclined to trust that you can pull off another erotic thriller with gusto! I'm not familiar with director Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, but he seems too classy to be involved with Italian horror. Speaking of the Devil's HoneyBlanca Marsillach (Christina's sister) played the twisted sexual dominator in that film. This would make a nice double feature for people who want to see what kind of demented torture she's capable of as an accomplished actress. At one of the Castro Theatre screenings, they did something similar with actress Isabella Adjani, when they pared Possession (Zulawski 1981) with The Tenant (Polanski 1976).

Who's gonna tickle me till I pee?

   Collector's Item is smeared with a little too much vaseline on the lense and not enough dirt and grime (the kind we all love here at ToG). I'm thinking Griffin smoothed over some of the more hideous elements of the Fulci script and plugged it up with more sequins and elderly ladies in granny garters. When Musante and Antonelli have relations, it skeeved me out, they are both in the geriatric set and it just feels wrong. 

AARP Viagra ad

   Marie feels guilty about the sexual reunion and cries afterward. Michael stayed behind, so he could cheat on his wife, whatever happens, he deserves the consequences. Colbert gets a tad bit possessive at first, possibly just the flicker of a psychotic firestorm thats brewing for later. They all have a pathetic forced surrogate family Christmas and I'm thinking the eggnog will finish with him getting it on with mother and daughter. His sexual conquest plans derail, as Marie drugs his drink and ties him up in a creepy foodie (food+sex) S&M way. No safe words though, just humiliation games, only benefitting her revenge. Some Christmas this turned out to be!   

Geez Mom, you win at shower handgun Connect 4 again.

   The daughter engages in some of these sick games as well and won't untie Michael. The worst part is that Colbert isn't even interested in more sex, she wants to keep him prisoner, until he decides to marry her and leave his current wife. One very gross scene has her smear Foie Gras and Caviar on his head and chest hair!

I said I don't like German poop sex

   In La Gabbia, the version I saw, Musante is dubbed and you can audibly hear his real voice during the caviar scene go "You Fucking Nut!" It's pretty funny.
   Jacqueline gives Michael blue balls, by cozying up to him while he's tied up and then leaving the room. The mother and daughter are an incestial, sadistic duo of some sort. There's no gore and this is not really a horror film, but the Caviar matted into Musante's hair and face looks disgusting. This is a great performance for him, I do miss hearing that gritty street thug voice, that's the only complaint I have. I'm pretty sure there's a non-dubbed version, which may slightly be edited. The psychotic mother and daughter stab him and stitch the wound back together, but have no idea what they are doing and it gets infected. This besides the icky food getting stuck to different places, is the grossest scene and the wound looks like it's smeared with mustard and ketchup! Maybe the makeup and craft services guy were the same.

No, I don't want to play Santa Sangre hand puppets again!

    The cracked Marie seems to have a history of getting fixated on different men, torturing them then dumping them. The ending is very abrupt and they expect you to connect the dots (besides Fulci this was written by two others), they should have picked up the slack for sure.

   The Marsillach sisters look extremely sexy and both show full bush, even if you absolutely hate this kind of erotic eurotrash, at least there's that to latch onto. 
   Collector's Item is very classy with a hint of sleaze lingering throughout, the only flaw for me, was that it ending, because you're all invested in what's going to happen next. It has that kind of Argento finale, where things are resolved, but then something jarring or frustrating happens to cap it off. 

"Have you seen your mother Baaby, slatherin dudes in Foie Gras"

   All in all, Collector's Item is worth checking out, it's fun in a trashy soap opera kind of way, with elements of supreme weirdness thrown in. Critics online have compared this to Fatal Attraction, which came out a few years later and I see only a flimsy connection, this is definitely not a ripoff of that big budget flick. 


Yummy nourishing Booze

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