AKA-LA SETTIMA DONNA/TERROR
REVIEWED BY-STEVE GENIER DIRECTOR-FRANCO PROSPERI CAST-RAY LOVELOCK, FLORINDA BOLKAN, FLAVIO ANDREINI, STEFANO CEDRATI, SHERRY BUCHANAN, LAURA TANZIANI and LUISA MANERI. SOURCE-MEDIA SUITS (JAPAN) NTSC R2 (2005)
First there was Wes Cravenís LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, then Aldo Ladoís NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS and now we have Franco Prosperiís THE LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH. Of course there are other films that would fall under such themes, but these are the two best examples to compare. A tale that involves kidnaping, rape and ultimately murder in violent ways. All three of these films rode the lines of exploiting these themes. Prosperi however decided to take it yet even further, by incorporating the rape of a nun, hence the Catholic themes throughout the film. Unlike itís other two counterparts, LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH is set mostly in one major area, a beach house. Three small time thieves played by Ray Lovelock, Flavio Andrieni and Stefano Cedranti knock off a bank and look for a safe place to hide out for a few days. They find their way to a secluded beach side house where thereís a womenís Catholic school retreat in progress. Led by Sister Cristina (Florinda Bolkan), they are in the middle of rehearsing for an upcoming play when the trio of bank robbers barge in.
Packing guns and forcing the house full of young girls to do their bidding until they decide itís safe for them to leave. Of course, the trio are also quite young and do have their natural instincts as well. When the first attack is attempted, the young girl brutally wounds one of the trio in the leg, stabbing it with a deep wound. These sets the ball rolling for some of the most brutal moments in Italian cinematic history, well in my opinion that is. Sure there have been equally or more brutal, but for when this was released it most have turned a few heads indeed. For example when Sister Cristina is forced to change for her normal clothes into her nunís robe and then rape. Though the Catholic elements where just undertones at the beginning of the film, where youíd see only suggestions such as when we are first introduced to the girls who are outside in their bikiniís, look at each other and then one by one begin to dis-robe until Sister Cristina appears. Sister Cristina is in normal street clothes until the moment the three thugs figure out she is indeed an nun. Once this happens, the mood and feel of the film changes, as a major taboo is exploited and then ultimately broken.
We are also subjected to yet another violent moment when one of the girls is brutally sodomized with a long wooden branch. Though not much is seen initially, itís the actions ans the sounds that very well imply such a horridus event. Though the viewer is not spared a clean break as you are witness to the end results. Though for the most part of the film, such terror isnít present, only in bunched moments of tension. Basically to get the viewer back into their fear mode. Itís pretty much like a roller coaster themed story line. The terror inflicted by the three thugs carries on until Sister Cristina has come to here breaking moment and in a powerful scene she renounces her Catholic faith and seeks revenge for all the killing and wrong doing of the three animals. This is where the fun really begins as you see Florinda as you never seen her before.
This is my first and only to date experience into a Franco Prosperi film, and with the intensity displayed in THE LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH, Iím sure it wonít be the last. Though this film can be very violent in areas, certainly not everyoneís cup fo tea, it is still a very good example of Italian exploitation and crime cinema. Great performances put in by Ray Lovelock, Flavio Andreini as well as the rest of the cast. Though the highlight is the powerful job Florinda Bolkan did, she certainly displayed a very unique a stylish performance with a basic story. This would be in due part of Prosperiís ability to work with the actors on a basic level, but being able to draw out very positive results. Sure this isnít an major classic film example, it still exhibits some great moments. When we first start off, the camera work by Cristiano Pogan with the guidance of Prosperiís eye, creates some interesting opening scenes. Camera is panned to a highway point where we are only able to see the foot movements of the impending bank robbery. This is furthered by showing only hand and foot movements as they end it with the masking of their faces. Basically building up any intensity or anticipation they might be going through. Then from one extreme to the other, when things are cut to the thugís ultimate hide-out with a bunch of sexy women, they have it made in the sun, but for a high price to pay. Something the amounts they stole from the bank couldnít even begin to cover.
Now, like most great examples, the score is one of the most important elements in helping a filmís atmosphere and mood along. Prosperi certainly does his homework here as well by employing the likes of Roberto Pregadio. His approach to THE LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH is certainly a very trendy one at that, at least for the time it was filmed. Mainly steep in hot disco like themes, Pregadio also incorporates some other catchy themes as well. Some rock in origin, others in electronic, but all seem to mold to their intended scenes with almost perfection.
The Japanese Media Suits release of this is as far as I know completely uncut, running at around 86 minutes in length. Itís presented in a beautiful anamorphic wide-screen ratio of 2:35.1 with a very clean English audio track in digital mono. There are the optional Japanese sub-titles as well. The down part to this is being able to watch it in itís original Italian language with English subtitles, but hey you canít have everything can you. Itís just great to see this rare films on the digital format in the first place. The other sad part as is with many Japanese releases, there are very little extras present on the disc, with only a trailer and a photo gallery all for the usual steep price. Still, if you are a fan of either Franco Prosperi or of this type of genre, this is highly recommended to you then.
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