9 July 2007 | Coventry
School for drinking, raping & murdering... scoundrels.
Fernando Di Leo was undoubtedly the emperor of Italian crime-cinema during the late 60's and the 70's. The work he did on other genres wasn't exactly impressive (anyone remember "Asylum Erotica"?), but in the area of rough 'n tough exploitation thrillers he was absolutely unequaled. Di Leo has some of the sub genre's classics on his director's repertoire (like "Milano Calibro 9", "Manhunt" and "The Boss") and he even contributed a lot to writing other filmmakers' finest accomplishments, for example Ruggero Deodato's "Live Like a Cop, Die like a Man" and Romolo Guerrieri's "Young, Violent and Dangerous". This "Naked Violence" somewhat predates Di Leo's greatest work, but it certainly is an extremely convoluted and ambitiously scripted gem of Italy's most glorious cinematic cult years. Granted, the title is slightly deceptive and misleading (don't expect to see much nudity, nor violence), but nonetheless the complex screenplay hints at multiple controversial themes, like juvenile delinquency, teenage alcoholism, confused sexuality and rape. The movie opens bizarrely and impressively disturbing, with fuzzy flash-images of an entire classroom of drunken adolescent boys gang-raping their teacher before choking her to death with a handkerchief in the mouth. After the opening credits are finished, we learn that they're all boys with questionable backgrounds and mild criminal records, and the class they were attending actually was some kind of social project to still give them one last chance to normally integrate into society. The slightly unorthodox police inspector Marco Lamberti is charged with the investigation, but the case is very frustrating because the boys turn it into a game of blaming each other and act all innocent. Bit by bit, Lamberti discovers that the influence, as well as the heavy liquor that caused the kids to turn into rapist killers, comes from an adult who always remains in the shadows. This malicious person occasionally uses the young scoundrels for petty crimes, but now he - or she must have had a reason to revert to murder. The plot of Di Leo's "Naked Violence" is perhaps silly and far-fetched, but the tight dialogs and particularly the powerful acting performances make it rather plausible. Pier Paolo Capponi is splendidly cast as the stubborn cop and also the young cast members are truly convincing in their roles of menacing small-time thugs. The film is overall a bit too talkative and the script reveals too few clues to really get involved in Lamberti's investigation, but the story's evolution is always compelling and worth your complete attention. The flashbacks near the end are atmospheric and a little creepy, and the end-twist is ahead of its time albeit quite silly. Definitely worth purchasing if you're into the more challenging titles of the Italian exploitation-industry.