"The Black Belly Of The Tarantula" (1971)
Director: Paolo Cavara
Starring: Giancarlo Giannini, Claudine Auger, Barbara Bouchet
Review by: "Machine Gun" Kristin
We meet again, Barbara Bach! I reviewed another film of hers here at TOG, "The Unseen" which you can read right HERE. I knew she looked familiar (she's very pretty, yet strange looking). I randomly chose "The Black Belly Of The Tarantula" because I know the Giallo (Italian for "yellow", referring to the covers of mystery/thriller books) genre can be sometimes tiresome to watch because there's so many, yet so few that are actually solid films. I think the other reviewers of TOG were a bit put off by Giallos in general because frankly, they're just not as much fun as Italian Horrors, even though both genres sometimes blend together simply because of their geographic origin. I think I unintentionally gave myself a spelling test with this particular film because I don't think I've "Tarantula" correctly on my own once while typing this out. haha
Giancarlo Giannini hugging a stray kitty
Here we have beautiful scenery, some good looking people, but mostly chase scenes and a disconnected plot line. I find films like this purely fun to watch since they're a great study in early 1970s European style, like a living breathing "Better Homes And Gardens" book from 1971. The hyper-sexualized soundtrack by Ennio Morricone makes the film seem more disturbing and sexual than it really is. It's more or less window-dressing.
Here's two examples of songs that includes lots of moaning as well!
"Black" is one of many Giallo mystery films, not so much horror since there's little gore and more thriller type scenes therein. Also, there are a bunch of these types of films that have much more interesting titles than the actual movies themselves that mostly include animals or insects. Similarly, Fulci's more successful Giallo, "Lizard In A Woman's Skin" uses this same device to give the film a more strange aura to it that may not have been so present in the first place. The visuals in that film are definitely more substantial though. In both "Lizard" and "Black", the title is referenced in only scene, as if it was completely an afterthought. In "Lizard" it's randomly spoken by Los Bravos lead singer, Mike Kennedy. Here, its used as a metaphor for the style of murders that keep occurring with a nasty battle between a wasp and a tarantula. I'd be hard pressed to believe that the title was not created before the film's first line of dialogue was even jotted down. I think if you asked the killer of this film about the tarantula theory, he'd probably disagree. DVD company, Blue Underground though says in their summary, that the killer is "injecting beautiful women with the poison of a rare wasp". I don't remember that at all.
This is just an okay movie, and I admit the second time I watched it, it was better. A young police detective (Giancarlo Giannini) is trying to figure out a suspect in a serial murder case. The victims are all young, beautiful women who are paralyzed by a large acupuncture needle, then disemboweled. The gore level here is low, but I definitely flinched at stabbing scenes of the needle held with gloved, mannequin like hands. That's always a horrifying scene for me personally in more extreme Italian horror; that otherworldly large floating appendage hacking away at some poor girl. The large hairy arm in "Suspiria", "House By The Cemetery" and "Tenebre" all have that similar killer's body off camera style that always creeps the hell out of me. The actual disemboweling here is a bit weak though, appearing more he's painted their stomachs instead of slicing into them.
I had a hard time figuring out who was who the first time I watched it because there's at least 3 women with red hair. It was a bit frustrating. Also the overabundance of young guys with blockheads and dark hair was a bit confusing. I'm guessing this helps aid the "surprise ending", but I spotted the killer pretty quickly although when they were revealed him, I wasn't sure if I had the right person. hahaha.
From L to R: The "friend" seemingly overdubbed by a gay man, the salon manager and the wife
I rate "Black Belly Of The Tarantula"☆☆ and a 1/2
Here's the trailer:
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