Dec 25, 2017

Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971)

Black Belly of the Tarantula (original title: La tarantola dal ventre nero) is a giallo which boasts three Bond girls: Claudine Auger (Thunderball -1965), Barbara Bach, (The Spy Who Loved Me -1977) and Barbara Bouchet (Casino Royale -1967). Often touted as the best giallo ever - let's see if it lives up to the hype...

Barbara Bouchet's character, Maria, is accused of blackmailing her husband and gets into a heated argument with him.  Check out the super cool pad; I love the stylish Italian retro decor.  I want this living room.

Bouchet hears a disturbance - this isn't good.  Given that this is a giallo, which are all about killing pretty ladies, I'd say her time is about up.

Bouchet is injected with a needle containing venom which allows her to be conscious while the killer does his dirty work.

Note the yellow nightgown.  A clear nod to the giallo book covers (where the genre gets its name).

The mysterious killer paralyzes his prey then cuts her open - just as the black wasp does the tarantula.

The subsequent crime scene features Bouchet bravely supplying the FFN.  Sure, she's dead, but we don't often get a chance to see Bouchet's bush, so here's another look...

Inspector Tellini (Giancarlo Giannini) is hot on the case, at the scene interviewing the prime suspect, her husband.

This scene isn't actually in the movie, but I'm sure it helped draw in male audiences
This being a giallo, we're supposed to try and figure out the killer by deduction.... but it always ends up being a convoluted mess, impossible to follow the clues to the murderer's true identity.  Unlike a traditional mystery (ex. Agatha Christie), where we can perhaps piece things together and arrive at the correct suspect.  Not so with giallos.  They often don't make sense even after the killer's identity is revealed.  But the point isn't solving the mystery, the point is the "flair" - the cool music, fashions, eroticism and violence, all interlaced.  It can be an acquired taste.

We're introduced to Tellini's wife. Anna (Stefania Sandrelli).  His police work is taking its toll on their marriage (the oldest cliche in cinema).  Note the cat - these giallos are chock full o' animals.  Take a look at a list of giallos and you'll see a menagerie just in the titles alone.

Tellini starts to put the pieces together, getting closer and closer to the true killer, and also putting himself in danger as he gets too close to this whole blackmail thing.

Barbara Bach's character, Jenny, works at a spa.  She gets into a confrontation with the head bitch in charge, Laura (Claudine Auger).

Jenny winds up dead by the same means - venom to the back of the neck, then a stabbing while still conscious (but paralyzed).  Bach delivers brief nudity, but nothing near the level we'd actually want.

The Barbara Bach scene was the feature of this poster

Could Laura be the killer?...   Well, no.  Laura is dead.  Tellini finds her and races back to his wife who he suspects may be in danger as well.

The killer is at the Tellini residence and knocks out Anna.  As the intruder places her on the bed, we see that Anna isn't wearing any panties.  A blink-and-you'll-miss-it Easter Egg for the perverts, courtesy Stefania Sandrelli.

The killer is about to go to work on Anna but is interrupted when Tellini arrives home.

Wait - who the fuck is this guy?  He figures into the story, but the link is weak.  Like I said, giallos aren't about logically solving the myster.

A fight ensues, with Tellini eventually straight up killing his ass.  Anna is taken to the hospital - THE END.

In terms of sex appeal, Bouchet delivering the FFN is amazing... but she's dead... and that's the last FFN you'll see (unless you count Stefania Sandrelli's taint... which we do not. Barbara Bach is barely in this film.

As usual for giallos, nothing makes a damn bit of sense. Giallos tend to get boring during the police procedural bits, but this is watchable throughout. The cinematography is sweet - vibrant colors with plenty of swingin' eye candy. And - three Bond girls with an Ennio Morricone score; it's hard to top that. Sadly, most of the film follows the investigator who I could give two shits about.  So, not my favorite giallo of all time; but definitely not among the worst.