Dec 11, 2017

Mania (1974)

An Italian flick featuring camera-work that lives up to the film's name.  It's non-stop batshit insane with a gothic horror vibe. Let's have a look...

Professor Brecht (Brad Euston) is a mad scientist, experimenting with electric waves which somehow cure disease and reanimate the dead... or something.  That's his wife Lisa (Eva Spadaro), his muse and inspiration for all his scientific breakthroughs.  Can't see her?  Well, that's because the direction in this film is so freaking one-and-done and as manic as the title.  God forbid we retake the shot without the wire completely obstructing her face.  But I digress...

Hey look, another girl has taken her place.  It's Erina (Mirella Rossi) who idolizes the professor, and it's implied the two are having an affair.

While Brecht gets it on with his lovely assistant, Erina, his wife is also cheating on him... with his twin brother Germano!   Are getting all this?  It's like a bad Italian soap opera up until this point.

When Brecht tries to confront Lisa about her infidelity, Erina stands in his way (I'm not sure why).  In a disturbingly realistic scene, Brecht suffocates Erina by putting a plastic bag over her head (again, I'm not sure why... isn't he taking it out on the wrong girl?).  Erina survives, but she has permanently lost her voice and hearing.

Lisa figures the only thing left to do is burn his ass to the ground.  She lights his lab on fire with him in it.  Erina looks on with horror.

Lisa is nightmarish visions, so she has to be taken to the hospital (some Lady Macbeth level guilt, maybe?).  The doctor recommends she spend some relaxing time at her villa.

At the villa gate is Lailo (Isarco Ravaioli) who is checking on Lisa.  Lailo was Brecht's colleague at the university, and has taken it upon himself to look after Lisa.  He's met at the gate by Brecht's twin brother, Germano.

Germano lives here.  As you can see, he's horribly disfigured from the blaze (he had tried to rescue his brother when crazy-ass Lisa set it on fire).

Look who's also here - it's Erina.  She emerges from the foliage to let Lailo in against Germano's wishes.  Here comes the film's most hilarious moment...

Germano runs her over repeatedly with his wheelchair!  As if this poor girl hasn't been through enough.  SPOILER ALERT: That isn't even Germano.  That's actually Brecht pretending to be Germano.... which makes this even worse.  Brecht treats this girl like shit!  First he suffocates her, then he runs her over with his wheelchair.  And she didn't even do anything to him!

Anyway, Erina has risked death-by-wheelchair to show Lailo a casket in the basement of the villa.  Clearly she's trying to show Lailo that that's not really Germano in the wheelchair.

This is Katia (Ivana Giordan) the villa's housekeeper.  Lisa swears she's being tormented by Brecht or Brecht's ghost, but Katia just thinks she's a crazy bitch.

Lisa keeps having these horrifying visions - such as the zombie above.  Perhaps it wasn't such a great idea to stay at home (thanks again, doc), especially with Germano, your dead husband's twin... who you were sleeping with... who's now disfigured... and been secretly replaced by Brecht.  Did you catch all that?

Lisa screams for help and Katia dutifully comes to her aid (but still thinks this crazy bitch is out of her damn mind).

If you think there's something up with Katia, you'd be right...

Later we find Katia being molested by Germano/Brecht in the garden.  Lisa doesn't see it, but Erina sure does... to bad the girl can't speak.... but can she at least freaking write?  I mean, just grab a pen and spell it out!

This scene for some reason is used as the center for this movie poster

Katia is in Lisa's room consoling her later, when Erina bursts in.  I'm not sure why these two ladies are naked, but I'm willing to roll with it.

Erina and Katia break into a nude catfight.  Daddy like.... and daddy would like a lot better if the director wasn't shit, and I could tell what's going on.  This is shaky cam thirty years ahead of its time.

Erina always looks traumatized.  I suppose anyone would who's been suffocated then run over by a wheelchair.

"ERINA!!" bellows Germano/Brecht from downstairs.  For whatever reason, Erina interrupts a perfectly good catfight to hypnotically heed the call.

I am not shitting you - Germano/Brecht literally runs Erina's ass over with his wheelchair again!

I'll spare you all the details of the closing act.  Suffice it to say, it's simultaneously predictable and batshit crazy.  Germano reveals himself to be Brecht (imagine my shock) - he's been trying to drive Lisa mad as payback.

I feel Lailo's pain - does this chick ever stop being traumatized?
...And it works.  Lisa kills Katia then jumps from the roof killing herself.  In the end, Lailo and Erina (and that worthless doctor) go off together.  THE END

This played like a Mexican soap opera, and it's hard to feel genuinely disturbed when it has that campy, ridiculous vibe throughout. (Although, Erina's suffocation scene was pretty raw.)  Manic, frenetic, shaky, dizzying filmmaking from beginning to end. Director Renato Polselli doesn't let you rest a second without somebody screaming, fighting, strangling or getting run over by a wheelchair. While the story itself is fairly lame, I can appreciate the energy:  A nude catfight, I lost track of how many times they were strangling each other; the murder, the slapping, the assaults with a deadly wheelchair - someone is always committing some form of violence.  Quite a ride.