1 November 2010 | lor_
Incompetent thriller, heavy on the ripoff
Shamelessly titled LE DIABOLICHE just in case any retarded fans miss out on the preposterous twists stolen from the Henri-Georges Clouzot classic DIABOLIQUE, retitled DANGEROUS WOMEN is an Italian potboiler of zero quality. Filmmaker Luigi Russo thinks he knows how to make a movie, even handling his own camera and editing, but needs to go back to remedial film school.
I had enjoyed a couple of his picturesque travelogs: BLUE ISLAND and ADAM AND EVE, but his straying into the thriller genre is a big mistake, especially given Italy's abundance of talented helmers in that vein.
Lisbeth Hummel, who starred in an early Russo sex picture and is immortalized for her sexy portrayal of the OTHER beautiful woman in Borowczyk's THE BEAST (besides cult star Sirpa Lane), is saddled with the main role as a wheelchair-bound heiress whose servants are trying to kill her for an inheritance.
Cheap film has a tiny cast, no extras, little action beyond pointless set pieces in the mansion, and thanks to Russo's hubris, terrible editing and photography. It almost requires a master's thesis for dissection, so many faults are on display.
The most annoying by far is Russo's penchant for back & forth, metronome style editing tropes, where he keeps repeating two shots, often point-of-view, in endless succession, meant to be suspenseful but as realized here merely tedious. Several times during the film I was muttering "when is this crap going to end" as he seemed to be getting stuck in some sort of infernal editing loop.
The other drawback is that whenever the film threatens to become a 1-woman-show, with Hummel crawling all over the mansion floor attending to weird, paranoid ad hoc constructions and booby trapping, Russo lays on the detail painstakingly and nonsensically since it amounts to nothing. During one lengthy sequence she seems to destroy the mansion's interior, while another time sets off an explosive fire, but in each case when the nasty pair of servants return all they find is a missing window curtain, and that's it. Basically the filmmaker is just killing time and padding the boring feature (it's at least a reel too long altogether) with many scenes that go nowhere.
Throwing in one extra character, Hummel's beautiful female doctor, as a potential red herring, the 4-character piece (cheap, cheap) finally falls apart with the pseudo-DIABOLIQUE plot gimmicks. Nihilistic, reductio ad absurdum ending is clearly echoing the many (now 40 years ago) achievements in the genre of Mario Bava, but is so stupid the viewer will probably react as I did: "is that all he's got to say?".
In film history there is a pantheon of greats, coming in all shapes and sizes, but there is also a vast ocean of hacks. Russo swims in the latter school.