10 July 2014 | melvelvit-1
"High Voltage" could have packed a real wallop
José's a poor but handsome garage mechanic who sees an opportunity to better himself by betting on a supposedly rigged jai alai game but only gets himself cleaned out and beaten up for his efforts. He's rescued by Elisa, an up-and-coming photographer, and he soon becomes her boy toy, not minding too much that she's also being kept by her patron, Count Pablo. At an exhibition the Count arranges for Elisa, José meets the nobleman's alluring wife, Laura, who wants her husband dead. José falls for both Laura and her schemes and the first of many twists comes when he finds out Laura's the rich one, not her husband. To make matters even more complicated, José shoots the wrong man which leads the Count to blackmail him into killing Laura but when he isn't able to pull that off either, Laura and the Count get together to try and kill José...
There's even more in store in this psychological (or "bloodless") giallo worthy of the corkers churned out in the late '60s by Umberto Lenzi & Carroll Baker. The giallo's unsung queen, exotic Marisa Mell, is the kind of femme fatale made famous by DOUBLE INDEMNITY's Phyllis Dietrichson and HIGH VOLTAGE reinforces the Italian horror sub-genre's relationship to the American film noir with its James M. Cain-like story of an amoral sap getting far more than he bargained for after being seduced into killing a wicked woman's husband. HIGH VOLTAGE (live wires actually figure into the story) is also a neat little treatise on the decadent rich and the poor fools who aspire to be like them. This may or may not have been intentional but the lack of nudity was typical of Franco-era Spain which, unfortunately, prevents the film from becoming the "high voltage" erotic thriller it should have been. On the plus side, however, the body count gets respectable towards the end and duplicity runs rampant. There were also some genuinely suspenseful moments to go with the off-the-wall ending and the garish colors, decor, and fashions are pure '70s. So is the sexy Helga Liné, who pops up near the end as a jaded party guest, come to think of it. A groovy 8/10