In the Folds of the Flesh (US - DVD)
Gabe would like to make it clear that this movie isn't about flabby dead people.
Besides upping the gore quotient and making the titles more ridiculously long, the Giallo films of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s were known for increasing the WTF factor at any possible turn. Until this point the most bizarre genre film I’d ever seen was Lucio Fulci’s hallucinogenic Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, but within six and a half minutes, the top of the main titles to be exact, forgotten Spaghetti Western director Sergio Bergonzelli’s In the Folds of the Flesh quickly steals the Giallo Weirdness crown. Actually, In the Folds of the Flesh takes things to such an extreme, kitchen sink level of parody that calling it a Giallo film may be a mistake.
The plot at first appears simply strange, then knowingly cryptic, but in the end is so incoherent it doesn’t really matter what the hell’s going on, as is often the case in Italian horror (the writing credits include two screenplays and two ‘ideas’). Bergonzelli keeps introducing characters only to kill them off without consequence, and then at the top of the third act introduces a Nazi subplot that would likely catch even the most open minded viewer miles off their guard. Any kind of revelation or plot twist (and the last twenty minutes is almost exclusively made up of plot twists) is dulled by utter confusion. The point of the film appears to be a showcase for sequences of increasing violence and debauchery, which are only slightly tamed by modern standards.
This circus of perversion includes not so subtle implications of incest, unsolicited dog murder, bloody stabbing, followed by corpse fondling, a nice acid bath, a beheading, unwanted oral sex, flashbacks to Nazi gas chambers intercut with a fat man furiously bathing with two sponges, another acid bath, a super slow motion attempted rape followed by another beheading, and includes several vaguely perverse notions, such as pet turkey vultures, sex-laced poetry on 8-track, an unnatural attachment to a wig, not to mention the oddity of living on an archaeological site.
Bergozelli’s creative editing techniques give the already unforgettable feature an interesting twist, even if his camera work and lighting is definitively sub-Mario Bava, who he seems to be emulating (complete with overused crash zooms and colourful source lighting that changes within a shot). Flashbacks to memories of the family’s dead father boating are introduced by spinning stills rather than fades or wavy transitions. Other flashbacks are all presented in kaleidoscope vision, and crisp black and white, in the form of both still and motion photography. Besides the more stylized elements, the editing is solid from the standpoint that In the Folds of the Flesh doesn’t feature a lot of excess fat, and the film’s overall pacing is much faster than most less than reputable Italian productions.
The mere availability of In the Folds of the Flesh on DVD is reason enough for celebration among cult movie fans, but Severin’s treatment of the material goes above and beyond the fanboy call. I’m pretty sure that this is the first availability of the film on DVD period, so the uncut status and widescreen presentation are call for high-fives all around. The Bava inspired garishly coloured sets, costumes and lighting are all bright, and feature minimal bleeding. The print is a bit dirty, and features plenty of scratches and other print damage artefacts (including a few rough changeovers), but the overall compression noise is very minimal for an older and once considered ‘lost’ release. Details are inconsistent, but never to a level that we can’t tell what’s going on, except for the pre-credit sequence, which is very dark, and purposefully foggy.
The only audio option is a dubbed Dolby Digital Stereo English track. The dubbing is pretty bad, but features plenty of familiar voices, at least to those of us that watch a lot of Italian B-movies. Most of the problems seem to have come out of the original tracks, not mistakes in the mastering process, or damaged tracks, with one exception. There is one moment around the eighty-seven minute mark where the soundtrack repeats itself for some reason. Perhaps the disc’s producers were covering up a missing bit of audio. The dialogue is mixed too a much higher volume than the music or effects tracks, and tends to peak consistently, whether the characters are screaming or whispering (at one point a villain laughs, but his sounds more like a scream. The film’s score is pretty dull for a Giallo from 1970, made up of what sounds like library tracks, though one Jesús Villa Rojo is credited with writing original music. The sound effects are equally, and unsurprisingly canned, featuring the exact same gun effect present in almost every Spaghetti Western.
Nothing extra here except the US release trailer, which suffers the same strange interlacing effects Severin’s Devil Hunter disc suffered.
In the Folds of the Flesh is worth the viewing simply for its bizarre excess. The plot is a joke, packed with incoherent twists and turns, but the pacing is rapid fire, and the visuals are varied and fun. Of all the late October Severin releases this was actually the one I was looking forward to the most, based simply on word of mouth, and I wasn’t disappointed. The availability of the rare feature was reason enough to pique my interests, but Severin’s anamorphic widescreen presentation looks fantastic, all things considered, which is just the cherry a-top the Giallo sundae.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 28th October 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Sergio Bergonzelli
Cast: Eleonora Rossi Drago, Anna Maria Pierangeli, Fernando Sancho, Alfredo Mayo
Genre: Horror and Thriller
Length: 87 minutes
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