Macabre (Macabro, Frozen Terror) Directed by Lamberto Bava (LamBava) starring Bernice Stegers, Stanko Molnar, Veronica Zinny, Roberto Posse, Ferdinando Orlandi (1980)
-Reviewed by Richard Glenn Schmidt
Mom Of The Year/Wife Of The Year for 1980 runner-up Jane Baker (Bernice Stegers) waits until her husband leaves for work so that she can abandon her two kids and meet up with her lover in his apartment. I don’t know if this is normal or not because this story -“inspired by actual events”- takes place in New Orleans; that could just be how they roll there. What Jane doesn’t know is that her daughter Lucy (Veronica Zinny) is a complete wacko. In a desperate plea for attention she fucking drowns her little brother! Dang, those tween years are murder!
When she gets the call that her son is dead, Jane and her lover Fred (Roberto Posse) -fresh from making the sex act- jump in his VW Bug and head for the house. Because she’s having a nervous breakdown in the passenger seat, Fred loses control of the car and is killed in the ensuing crash. Jane has to spend some time recovering in the loony bin. Once she gets out, Jane heads home to patch things up with her long-suffering husband and deal with the clearly insane Lucy. Just kidding, she heads right to Fred’s apartment to be even more of an asshole than she’s already been thus far.
|This is not about Hurricane Katrina.|
Enter Robert Duval. No, not Robert Duvall (with two L’s), Robert Duval (Stanko Molnar), the blind son of the former landlord who lives alone in the same building as Dead Fred -not Drop Dead Fred. Stop distracting me, IMDB. I’m trying to write about Macabre! He has always had a crush on Jane and now that she’s single, he’s ready to make his move. But is she single? Robert immediately notices that Jane is acting rather strange. She has nightly rendezvous with someone she calls “Fred” and is having about a thousand loud orgasms during these encounters.
Skip this paragraph if you don’t want the film spoiled for you. But if you’ve seen the completely unsubtle VHS art for this film under its Frozen Terror title, then you know what I’m about to say. Somehow Jane has managed to save Fred’s severed head in a freezer and has been making love to it since she got out of the nuthouse. How the hell she managed to score this little trophy is beyond me. Robert and Lucy figure out the truth at the same time. He wants to help Jane and presumably hook up when she gets back from a possible second trip to the place with padded walls. Lucy decides to use her knowledge of the severed head of Fred to torture her mother for reasons unknown. I’m telling you. Tweens, man.
In case you ever wondered if British actress Bernice Stegers (of Xtro) is batshit insane, Macabre can answer that one for you. Her performance in this is completely unhinged and ludicrously over-the-top. I love it! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s voluptuous as hell and her character is dangerously horny with a slightly (sarcasm) unhealthy dose of sexual obsession and necrophilia to boot. If her half-assed altar to the memory of her deceased lover doesn’t make you snicker, then I don’t know my business.
|You can never wash off the Stanko.|
A huge part of what makes this all so brilliant is Jane’s epic cockteasing of poor Robert. And for reals, part of me wants to think that she’s genuinely interested in Robert but she’s so damn bonkers that she can’t let Fred go, even in the face of a seemingly normal encounter. Robert repairs brass musical instruments for a living so you know he’s good with his hands! Give the guy a chance, lady.
Possessing one of the finest names in history -second only to Fabio Testi- is Croatian born Stanko Molnar. He’s really good in this one and I wish he’d done more Italian horror and giallo. Of course, the real MVP of Macabre is Veronica Zinny. Her portrayal of the diabolical and unintentionally hilarious Lucy really carries the movie when Bernice Stegers isn’t chewing giant sexy holes in the scenery. I wish that this wasn’t her only screen credit. I would have liked to have seen those constantly narrowing, sneaky eyes in more Italian horror flicks.
|No one plays Minecraft anymore.|
I kept misremembering this film as having a 100 minute or longer running time but no, it just feels like it does. While the same can be said to a lesser degree of his follow-up, the hilarious giallo A Blade in the Dark (1983, see review here), LamBava’s feature film debut is disastrously methodical in its pacing. Add a couple of megaton bomb level annoying brats and a one note mystery to the mix and you’ve got a film that I find tough to recommend but enjoyable enough for seasoned Italian horror fans. Just don’t expect anything remotely insane like the director’s own Demons (1985). This is the un-Demons.
The music by composer Ubaldo Continello (Trauma, Play Motel) is spare when it’s not ramming a saxophone, harmonica, or wildly heavy handed percussion and strings up your ass. I really think this film would have benefited from some synthesizer freak-outs to fill in the long stretches without music. Hey LamBava, I know you probably thought that less is more but it’s not true. Less is just less, duder. Do I really think that blogs speak directly to all them fancy directors in Hollywood? How long has LamBava lived in Hollywood anyway? Eh, probably since Body Puzzle (1992) came out.
So yeah, I have mixed feelings about Macabre. There’s quite a bit of atmosphere, lavish set decorations, great locations, unexplained plot weirdness, mind-melting histrionics, and abrupt, comedic violence. The director admits that the idea for the film started as a joke and/or is based on a real case. I’m thinking it’s the former but you know what, why not? New Orleans doesn’t have laws against this kind of thing happening. Just like Ft. Pierce, Florida, anything goes. The aforementioned slowness of the plot is kind of a deal breaker but I might give Macabre another viewing someday. Or not. The music score certainly doesn’t do the film any favors because let’s be honest, the harmonica is the butthole of musical instruments.