Tuesday, November 20, 2007

La Tarantola dal ventre nero (The Black Belly of the Tarantula)

(1971) ***

The Black Belly of the Tarantula begins with the violent murder of nymphomaniac Maria Zani. During the opening credits we see her getting it on with a blind masseuse in a posh spa. Later she quarrels with her husband who has just received a picture of her illicit tryst in the mail. After her husband storms out of the house, she is attacked by a mysterious assailant, who injects her with the paralyzing venom of a wasp. The venom has the instant effect of paralyzing her, which enables her to witness her belly being slit open without being able to move.

Inspector Tellini is assigned to the case after Maria’s gruesome murder is discovered. Initially suspecting Maria’s husband, especially when her husband’s alibi is proven to be a lie, Tellini believes that he has solved the case. However, with the discovery of a photograph featuring a naked Maria in the arms of another man, Tellini realizes that the case might be more complicated than he initially believed. When another beautiful woman is murdered in the exact same manner at an exclusive fashion boutique, Tellini begins to piece together the connection between the two women. His investigation at the boutique leads to the discovery of a large quantity of drugs.

I bear an uncanny resemblance to JPX’s former movie theater boss.

The discovery of the drugs adds a new wrinkle to the case. Tellini learns that an employee of the boutique is a drug smuggler, who has a unique way to smuggle drugs into the country (it involves hiding the drugs in jars containing poisonous tarantulas). Tellini also learns that the boutique is involved in a complicated blackmail scheme, which involves seducing and then blackmailing affluent young customers. More deaths occur and eventually these two stories converge. It’s a race against time for Tellini when learns that his wife might be the killer’s next target.

My biggest problem with The Black Belly of the Tarantula is inspector Tellini. The story often focuses on his relationship with his wife rather than the case he is investigating. I understand that the director was attempting to establish Tellini as a family man in order to “connect” with the audience. But truth be known, Tellini is not very likable and he is ultimately kind of wimpy. I don’t care about his marital issues I only care about the murders, which actually become redundant after while. After seeing a woman injected with wasp venom, paralyzed, and then gutted three times, a forth becomes boring (e.g., “Again with the injection/belly slicing”). Perhaps it was my second glass of wine, but the story is somewhat convoluted and I often found myself saying, “Wait, who is that guy?” The poor English dubbing also detracted from my enjoyment.

1 comment:

Whirlygirl said...

You liked this film a bit more than I did. I only gave it two stars. This was by far the worst of all the Italian horror films I watched this Horrothon. As you know JPX, I despised inspector Tellini. This was the only giallo I watched that predominantly focused on the detective and the investigation, and it was a bad choice because Tellini is boring, stupid, and whiny. Also, the plot is not at all clever. In all the other giallos I watched I was on the edge of my seat anticipating who the killer was, while constantly being fooled of the identity, but in this film I didn’t care because it consisted of a lame suspect list with even lamer motives. The film sucked, the characters sucked, and you are right, the English dubbing was terribly distracting, it was the worst I watched this Horrothon. Morricon’es score is the only part of this film that shines.