I've always been a great fan of Umberto Lenzi and his many gialli in particular are very dear to me, so I thought I'd get a discussion started on these films.
I'm curious to know: which of Lenzi's gialli do you like the best? Do you prefer his trilogy of sexy thrillers starring Carroll Baker - ORGASMO a.k.a. PARANOIA (1968), SO SWEET... SO PERVERSE (1969) and PARANOIA a.k.a. A QUIET PLACE TO KILL (1970), as well as the very similar OASIS OF FEAR (1971) with Irene Papas? These aren't traditional Argento-style gialli with a black-gloved killer on the prowl, of course. Instead they take their cue from Carroll Baker's first giallo, THE SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH (1968), but they have their own very distinct styles and are characterized by an extremely cynical attitude that really make them stand out among all the gialli being popped out during this period. It's hard for me to pick a favorite among them but I think I slightly prefer the two first ones - ORGASMO and SO SWEET... SO PERVERSE - but the other two are certainly well-worth watching too.
And how about SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS (1972) and EYEBALL (1975)? These two are more traditionally structured and also the Lenzi's only gialli to feature happy endings.
I really like ORCHIDS, which is a very well-plotted and exciting film packed with really great actors (Rossella Falk, Marisa Mell, Pier Paolo Capponi etc) and some memorable murders. And if you look beneath the surface, you'll find that it's actually just as cynical as Lenzi's previous gialli.
EYEBALL on the other hand is the only Lenzi giallo that I flat out dislike. It's really badly made, has a terrible leading actor in John Richardson and Lenzi botches every opportunity to build suspense. A real stinker!
But let's not forget about the two odd ones out: KNIFE OF ICE (1972) and SPASMO (1974).
KNIFE OF ICE is Lenzi's fourth and final giallo to star Carroll Baker but it's very different from their previous three films. Here, Baker plays a far less glamorous role as a mute woman caught up in a murder mystery. Inspired by THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE, this is certainly a more old-fashioned and less violent film but it's one of my favorites. Very suspenseful, well-played and atmospheric, with a great electronic Marcello Giombini score.
SPASMO, too, is a great film, I think. Very much a psychological thriller, it's weird and confusing but stylish and engrossing, and it all comes together perfectly in the memorable denouement.
So... which are your favorites? Which ones have you seen and which ones haven't you seen? Come on and share your thoughts!