July 8, 2012

Filthy Review - Plot of Fear

Plot of Fear (1976)

Review by Jude Felton

The world of Italian Giallo cinema is a truly fascinating area of film, which boomed in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and was probably most famous for the films of such directors as Dario Argento, Mario Bava and even early Lucio Fulci. Those three names only scratch the surface of what was an incredibly productive time for Italian cinema. The quality sometimes varied, greatly, but there are always new titles for the discerning fan to discover.

One such movie is Plot of Fear, which is also known as E Tanta Paura, which first surfaced in 1976 and has been released on DVD in the States by Raro Video. It is directed by Paulo Cavara, who is probably best known for his film The Black Belly of the Tarantula, and has a truly disorientating plot feature the staple diet of sex and murder, and wonderful Italian dialogue. As with many Giallo films this is one that it really does require the viewer to pay attention to what is going on.

A brief summary of the plot would be to say that a series of sometimes quite brutal murders, that are baffling the police, all seem to be tied in to the sudden death of a young woman at a wild party. The killer, as is so often the case, has a calling card which is incidentally a card and leads the investigation on a wild chase. One character even comments on the versatility of the murderer, in terms on his, or her, method of dispatching hapless victims.

This is a movie awash with scenes of sudden violence, at least two of which are very brutal, and naked flesh all brought together with plenty of dialogue. This is where it really does help to pay close attention to what is going on, because the film does not follow a straightforward narrative. Plot of Fear is constantly going back and forth in time, revealing more to the viewer about the events of the party. It can be disorientating, but it is ultimately well worth your patience.

Plot of Fear certainly isn’t as flashy as some of Dario Argento’s movies; the visuals are very much more subtle and the score is solid, if not truly memorable. It is however an engrossing, if slightly self-indulgent, story that is sure to keep the viewer guessing until the very end. In a time where murderers tend to be telegraphed to the viewer early on in the film, it is refreshing to return to an era where the investigation and slow reveal was the main focus of the film, and of course the violence.

The cast of Plot of Fear are all fairly impressive in their roles, with the main focus being on the lead investigator played by Michele Placido, who is excellent as the flawed Gaspere Lamenzo. Also popping up are a couple of familiar faces, the first being Eli Wallach, who was in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and the second being Tom Skerritt, who went on to star in movies such as Alien and Top Gun. As is often the case with English language actors who star in Italian movies it is strange to see Skerritt quite obviously speaking in English, which is in turn dubbed into Italian and then to have English subtitles on top of it. A minor distraction and truth be known quite a fun one.

This DVD release also comes with three interviews, which include one with the aforementioned Michele Placido, as well as a PDF format illustrated booklet that contains analysis from Fangoria magazine’s Chris Alexander. The real bonus of this release though is the beautiful transfer which was digitally restored; this is a good looking movie.

Overall, Plot of Fear is a really rather good thriller. Fans new to the Giallo style might find it a little hard to digest at first, but existing fans used to this format will more than likely lap it up. 

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