[Vacation for a Massacre]
Review By-Kit Gavin Directed by Fernando di Leo Starring Joe Dallesandro, Lorraine de Selle, Gianni Macchia and Patricia Behn Source: Rarovideo / Nocturno DVD [Italy 2005] PAL Region 0 Runtime: 85 min 37 sec
A small time violent criminal, Joe Brezzi [Dallesandro] escapes from prison. Whilst in flight, he steals a car from a nearby farmyard, having knocked out one of the occupants with a large boulder and killing the other with a large pitchfork. He then makes his way towards a small town in the mountain, looking for a little vacation cottage there. En route, he asks an old man directions, claiming he is an insurance salesman, also trying to ascertain when the new owners of the cottage will return. He drives up to the house and breaks in through one of the open windows. He finds that the fireplace where he had previously hidden his cache of loot has been bricked over.. He makes his way to the outhouse to get something to break the brickwork, when he is interrupted by the sound of a car pulling up outside.
Hiding behind a stone wall, he notices the occupants of the car making their way to the cottage.. The occupants are Sergio [Macchia], his wife Liliana [Behn] and Liliana’s younger, prettier and more flirty sister Paola [De Selle]. There is clearly an air of sexual tension in the air as, whilst Liliana is making arrangements inside the cottage, Paola and Sergio flirt outside. Paola tells Sergio she wants them to screw preferably whilst Liliana is out shopping. Sergio teases her and tells her that he will when he can in between hunting which leaves Paola feeling cold.
Later at dinner, Paola flirts even more with Sergio by rubbing his crotch under the table with her foot. Both Sergio and Liliana tease Paola for her differing attitudes, such as her indifference to study yet she still wants to get a good job when she finishes university. Later Liliana and Sergio go to bed, with Paola sleeping on the coach in the living room area just outside their bedroom. Paola strips nude lying on the sofa and starts to read her book. Meanwhile the couple in the bedroom nextdoor start to have loud sex, which starts to turn Paola on. She lies there and starts to masturbate, unaware that she is being watched by Joe through the window outside.
Later, the next morning, as Sergio is about to go out hunting, he confronted by the nude Paola, who confronts him. She then makes him, fully dressed, start to eat her pussy, before she spurns him, telling him to leave and go out hunting. Sergio leaves, and Liliana goes out shopping. Dressed in only a skimpy sarong Paola decides to lie outside and sunbathe. Seizing the opportunity of the house being empty, Joe knocks out Paola and flings her on the sofa in the cottage. He then takes a pick axe from outside and starts hacking away at the brickwork beneath the fireplace.. Paola then comes round, understandably frightened by what is happening with the stranger in the cottage. She tries to flee in fear and Joe slaps her hard, knocking her to the ground. Upon coming round she tries to flirt with Joe, first by smoking then by attempting to be suggestive by sprawling on the armchair. However her attempts are in vain, and Joe sets her to work on breaking up the brickwork with the pickaxe, uninterested.
However having exhausted herself with the pickaxe, and having aggravated Joe, still vainly attempting to flirt with him, the criminal snaps, chases Paola round the room, tears off her dress and rapes her on the sofa., without even removing his pants Paola starts to enjoy her ordeal and afterwards she and Joe share a cigarette. Whilst Joe relaxes on the sofa, Paola, stark naked attempts to escape, running out of the cottage and down the hillside. Paola submits, Joe catches up with her, manhandles her and then proceeds to gag and tie her to the bed.
Later both Sergio and Liliana return, and each of the three captives are forced into humiliating themselves in front of the others by Joe, whilst he seeks out his cache of stolen money. Paola again attempts to flirt with Joe unsuccessfully. The film ends dramatically, and tragically.
Cast in the lead role is Joe Dallesandro, who’s status as a trash cult icon should require no introduction to visitors to Cinema Nocturna. Since the mid 70’s, Dallesandro, who had been working with Paul Morrisey on various films, had relocated to Europe after working on the infamous BLOOD FOR DRACULA and FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN which had been produced by Andy Warhol, and had been received by a worldwide audience for their outrageous blood letting and rampant nudity, not least by Dallesandro. These iconic films launched Dallesandro’s career for his broody looks and screen presence, as opposed to his (at best) minimalist acting ability. None the less Dallesandro’s career n Europe was to bring him to work with some of the more interesting personalities from Walerian Borowczyk (cast opposite Sylvia Kristel) and French singer and legend Serge Gainsbourg in JE T’AIME… MOI NON PLUS, to cult directors such as di Leo and Stelvio Massi (both of whom have been lauded for their crime thrillers)
Opposite Dallesandro is Lorraine de Selle, an Australian-French actress, born in Italy, who has something of a minor cult following of fans of 70’s Italian exploitation cinema, her most celebrated role being in the notorious munchfest CANNIBAL FEROX for Umberto Lenzi. The cultured and attractive de Selle had begun her career as a journalist, working for the Australian Women’s Weekly before returning to Italy and commencing a career in Italian cinema. Her career started with Joe D’Amato in a small memorable unaccredited role in EMANUELLE IN AMERICA.. De Selle would continually be cast in trash cinema throughout her film career, even in a comedy starring opposite Goldie Hawn and Giancarlo Giannini, she appears in the nude. None the less, de Selle took her roles seriously, and could be relied upon to deliver a solid performance. In VACANZE PER UN MASSACRO, she spends nearly her entire screen time in the nude, yet she delivers an infinitely more rewarding and talented performance than her leading man. Since the mid 80’s however, de Selle has retired from the acting world and these days works as a producer for various television productions, and has even directed a television film, the well regarded Hemingway a Venezia.
Gianni Macchia, a handsome leading man, had been cast in numerous projects throughout the 70’s and also had appeared in a number of projects for di Leo and consistently delivered a strong performance. Also Macchia was not afraid of stripping in front of the camera, and here, once again, there is a fleeting glimpse of him in a full frontal nude scene, lying on the bed. His role is not the most substantial and doesn’t call for a great deal of ability nor flexibility, as he is simply required to perform a role of a philandering chauvinist, who sees the women around him as slaves to do his bidding. The weakest performance is delivered by Patricia Behn, who’s career spanned three films (including this one); one porno film and equally sleazy PLAY MOTEL, again produced by Mida Cinematografica, when she played a murder victim and wasn’t required to do much acting. Behn’s all too Italian looks also may have contributed to her non-career as an actress outside of Italy and the years 1979-1980.
Direction by one time screenplay writer, and highly proficient crime film director, Fernando di Leo, is intense and good usage is made of the claustrophobic location of the small abandoned cottage in the mountains. At times the film may seem to be stagey and other than a finale in slow motion, the film is bereft of much of the gusto and stylised camera work which was starting to mark Italian directors work, following on from the success of directors such as Dario Argento. Equally so, di Leo had previously shot his films, such as his lauded crime thrillers with style and gusto.. However this method of film making would have been out of place in a film such as this, and this minimalist approach (which may or may not have been due to the films low budget origins) works extremely well, showing di Leo’ competence as a director once more. The film also a more cinema-verité approach, which again adds to the gritty uncomfortable mood. Di Leo’s films are seldom happy and generally leave a bitter taste in the mouth by the end. His films are bleak and the endings are deressing and marked by tragedy, such as in AVERE VENT’ANNI, AMARSI MALE and BRUCIA, RAGAZZO BRUCIA [also starring Macchia]
Picture quality is greatly varying in quality, although there are no splices there is obvious damage to the source material. There are occasional slight scratches here and there to be found in the print. Also at times, the exterior shots seem to be rather over-exposed and the brightness of the sunlight seems to burn through. Also the picture quality drops at times inside for a few seconds here and there giving the image a marked (but not distracting) darker green tint. Flesh tones look pale and washed out and don’t look natural. Maybe, owing to the films very low budget, the film was shot this way, and on inferior quality stock. I don’t know.. Despite these misgivings about the image quality the film in not significantly damaged so as to not enjoy the film, and it is most certainly watchable.
Audio quality seems to be fine and clear if unexceptional. However the film has no need for a blasting surround sound audio owing to the mood and atmosphere of the film, which as noted above has a more theatrical edge to it than di Leo’s other films.. Other than dialogue, the only other notable sound effects are those of guns going off and the radio (which provides the film’s soundtrack) that predominantly Paola listens to.
The real let down in this release however is the extras. Or lack thereof. Other di Leo releases from Rarovideo have been sterling and superb, graced with interviews, documentaries and even a commentary. However none of this is to be found here. There isn’t even a stills gallery, which would have been nice to see at least the original Italian lobby card set (the locandina is used to illustrate the cover for the DVD), and any of the behind the scenes photos which di Leo would have had in his collection.. Instead there are some brief liner notes and also a biography and filmography of the director, given in both English and in Italian language. A real bonus would have been to see an interview with Lorraine de Selle or Gianni Macchia, as de Selle had been previously interviewed by Nocturno magazine. It would have been enjoyable to see and to hear her speak about her career as an actress, and as a producer today.
The DVD release is presented in Italian with optional English subtitles. It seems that an English language release of this trashy little melodrama was [surprisingly] never released nor prepared. The only other release outside of Italy seems to have been a German language video release under the unusual inexplicable title of TOY. The subtitles are clear, crisp and easy to read and accurate translations of what actually being said on screen by the players. Despite the misgivings about the, at best, satisfactory picture quality, VACANZE PER UN MASSACRO is an undeniably enjoyable little trashy, melodrama. Films like this aren’t made anymore, and there are scenes which will undoubtedly offend some viewers, such as Lorraine de Selle’s character frequently getting beaten around, and ultimately raped, yet still seemingly remaining submissive to her captor. This film is not pleasant, yet it is watchable, entertaining and sleazy. The four players deliver good performances and with di Leo’s understated direction, it adds up to a seldom seen (until now) entertaining little melodrama. Often dismissed by reviewers as being just for completists of di Leo’s or Dallesandro’s films, this is not the case, and the film stands up on it’s own, somewhat dubious, merits. Not the best release from the boys at Rarovideo/Nocturno so far by a long shot, but still worthy of sitting in any trash aficionado’s collection. Check it out.
Story / Film: 3.5/5 BITCH SLAPS Picture: 2.5/5 BITCH SLAPS Audio: 3/5 BITCH SLAPS Extras: 1/5 BITCH SLAPS Overall DVD: 3/5 BITCH SLAPS
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