10 April 2010 | Squonkamatic
Boring And Clumsy
Reporting in to note that I tried my best to like THE EVIL EYE and have failed. The movie has a lot in it to like: Spaghetti Western favorites Anthony Steffen & Eduardo Fajardo, the beloved Luciano Pigozzi, deliriously sexy Daniela Giordano, Pia Giancaro, Eva Vanicek & Pilar Velázquez, plus Lone Flemming, nothing to sneeze at herself. Music by genre film legend Stelvio Cipriani. Story & screenplay by Julio Buchs and Federico De Urrutia, who had graduated from the Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent school of Spanish Spaghetti Westerns themselves, and had previously collaborated on the under-appreciated A BULLET FOR SANDOVAL.
So the film bombards viewers with all sorts of fantastic elements, including some great Italian urban & rural scenery, a feast of cavorting nude women, some hunky Euro Manbeef for the ladies (or whoever -- is this movie gay?) and a couple of truly bizarre scenes that are difficult to explain ... Like the scene where a 2 ton pallet of cinder blocks are dropped on somebody, but when the camera goes in for the medium angle it looks like someone had tossed a few bricks into a pile. Was it a gaffe due to the film's tight budget or a surrealist touch meant to make you stop for a minute and say "Wait, did I see that right?"
The problem is that the film never really gels. It seems hesitant to tell its story and pads out the scenes which do move the narrative along with excessive travelogue photography, or just small scenes thrown in that have nothing to do with the story. I would also single out the lead Jorge Rivero, a fine actor from Mexico, with being totally wrong for the role. He doesn't come across as tortured or even involved in his story no matter what language his voice voice dubber was speaking. Roles like this need a tortured soul to wander through the film looking for answers -- Fabio Testi, George Hilton, Farley Granger, even cast mate Anthony Steffen, they could all do it in their sleep. Rivero comes off poorly but it isn't his fault.
It does have Anthony Steffen though, made up & costumed to look like Dirty Harry right down to the corduroy tie. The problem is that the film doesn't come up with anything for him to do that required the role to be filled by Anthony Steffen, who was a very special presence. They don't even do anything with the Dirty Harry angle, which would have made sense given how Steffen was marketed as Italy's own answer to Clint Eastwood. He isn't wasted in the role because he's just one of those actors where every performance is always pretty decent, the script just wasn't sure if it wanted to tell its story and subsequently doesn't really give him anything to do.
It also kept Daniela Giordano cruelly encased within her clothing, while lingering many a flattering camera angle on Jorge Rivero and his hunky roommate buddy -- who apparently share bathrobes -- lounging around in various states of semi-dress. Which led me to wonder if the film had a quietly gay subtext to it, which would be fine and can be the basis for some interesting results (look up a little number called ROOM OF CHAINS sometime). But the story dances around the idea clumsily, parading out the usual quota of bared breasts in a manner that comes across as perfunctory. The real passion is in showing Jorge Rivero lying in bed with his shirt off, and that in itself makes the film somewhat unique.
4/10; Euro Horror fans will be more sympathetic than others.