Saturday 28 July 2012

Last Caress (aka Glam Gore)

Caress Whisper

Last Caress (aka Glam Gore) 
France 2010
Directed by François Gaillard & Christophe Robin
B Films Region 2

Last Caress is a movie I picked up on DVD as a (fairly) rare blind buy at this year’s London Film & Comic Convention in a truly beautiful and very limited, numbered German edition (only 2000 copies have been pressed for the market, apparently) under the title Glam Gore. I was told by the particluar stallholder, who knows me by now and is pretty knowledgeable about the various niche markets of exploitation cinema, that this was made as a new giallo and was, in his words, “really good.” I had to admit, the book style packaging with the full colour booklet bound into it was very special to look at but I still wasn’t sold on getting this one for what was, frankly, a little higher than I like to pay for my DVDs. But then the stallholder remembered my particular weakness and pointed out to me that the DVD also came with an additional CD of Double Dragon’s music for the movie (a composer or composers of whom I can find no real evidence of, so to speak, on the internet). This pretty much hooked me in because, when the soundtrack CD is included with the DVD, it’s rare for that score to be released as a stand alone, from what I’ve ben able to make out.

True to the stall holder’s word, Last Caress is, indeed, a pretty good movie. It’s got some slight problems for me in terms of an all round film experience but, if you like the giallo form of cinema, you certainly can’t help but be a little impressed by this movie because it really “goes for it” in terms of utilising a giallo format. There are absolutely loads of references, mostly visual and musical, which many fans of the likes of Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Luciano Ercoli and Sergio Martino will get a real kick out of. This, generically, comes through in the form of the brighter-than-thou drenched colour splashes of Dario Argento, filtering through from Mario Bava’s influence, which really does push the boat out in terms of lighting and camera movement.

The homage conitinues in that many of the gory murder scenes are also direct references to specific giallo movie murders and, in the case of the “first” murderer, the specific look of the killer... which in the opening of the movie is a direct reference to Bava’s Blood and Black Lace with a touch of Argento’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage thrown in for good measure. The film continues to pile on iconic references at a steady rate of knots, a particular highlight which the director keeps coming back to is a variant of the spiked metal glove which made a brief appearance in Death Walks At Midnight. Even the iconic shot of the womans head and shoulders laying backwards through the broken glass from Tenebrae is dutifully referenced in a similar pose.

The movie doesn’t stop at pure giallo though... while it plays with echoes of the supernatural powers of the first victim in Argento’s Profondo Rosso (aka Deep Red), it also comes back to the supernatural themes quite heavily in both an early seance scene and at the movies denouement... so there’s a little bit of worship going on of the Italian horror movie too (which Argento and, to more of an extent, Bava, both indulged in from time to time in their respective bodies of work). If you’re one of those movie watchers who loves playing along with the writers and directors in a movie, and you know your Italian exploitation cinema... then you’ll have a fairly good time with this one I think.

As I touched on earlier, the music by somebody called Double Dragon is also very rooted in the Italian giallo for its tone. Now they (I’m assuming Double Dragon is a they) could have gone one of two routes with this score, or possibly even gone a third route and mixed up different gialli musical styles. As it happens, they’ve jettisoned the Ennio Morricone/Bruno Nicolai approach to scoring this kind of film and gone with the Claudio Simonetti/Goblin approach for their score... with maybe just a dash of Cipriani thrown into the mix. What does this mean in terms of adding to the overall tone of the piece? Simple... this score “rocks” and I’m very grateful to have the "free" soundtrack album which came with it and which I’m listening to as I type these very words.

However, I have to say that, apart from all the positive stuff I’ve mentioned here, I did find something a little amiss... and I’m having some trouble putting my finger on what that something is. The performances, from what looks like a fairly unknown cast... are all pretty good and they seem to be taking their various roles quite seriously. The lighting and colours are all great. The score is pretty good. But I think, there are two things which made it less a great movie and more just an interesting curio for me.

One thing is the fact that, although the plot is as simplistic as its references, it just feels like it needs a little more substance.  Yeah, yeah. I know. Crazy right? The giallo format almost prides itself in having no real substance but I think this expectation came from within me as a response to the context of watching a contemporary movie and this lack of substance, combined with the next thing I’m going to mention, is probably not something I should even worry about in relation to a genre where style plays such an important part at the expense of the other. But I’m going to anyway.

The other thing is... although pretty much all the shots look absolutely beautiful and nicely designed, everything seems to be just a bit too “high definition”. That is to say, even though I know a lot of the shots in this are actual location shots... the sharpness and quality of the picture almost makes everything feel like it’s been shot on a very fake set. It’s just too darned focussed. It needs a little cinematic distancing on the appearance methinks. Smear some vaseline over the lens like they used to do for soft focus shots in the old days maybe. Or perhaps a deliberately degraded look akin to what Rodriguez did on Planet Terror perhaps?

As it is, the whole thing reminded me, as much as the genres they were going for (and they really do go for it in this movie, I assure you) like an exended version of one of those old 90s Redemption Films introductions that used to air on the Bravo cable channel or play before the main feature on the VHS cassettes. Something with Eileen Daly in it dressed as a vampire or a nun... or possibly a vampire nun... rolling around with a half naked lady with a bared and highly unmissable chest partially covered in blood. Remember those? Well I think this movie has some of that kind of vibe to it too... especially in a flashback scene involving accusations of witchery, a naked gal and some prominently placed barbed wire... which I’m sure was cheap at half the price in the middle ages. Nice as it was to pass the time, this style of shooting did kind of pull me out of the whole giallo thing which the directors had spent so much time setting up.

All in all, it’s not nearly as great an homage to the genre as the truly wonderful Amer was a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of 1970s Italian thriller or horror movies and you want a quite beautifully shot, good sounding film to pass the evening with that features naked, bosomy women, lashings of boody violence (probably a lot more than actually featured in a lot of the films this one is aspiring to be, actually) and a hefty dose of the old “guess-the-giallo” game thrown in, then you really can't go wrong with Last Caress/Glam Gore. Grab one of these limited edition copies with the bonus CD soundtrack while you still can.

No comments:

Post a Comment