Mar 16, 2014
Undoubtedly, when it comes to Guido giallo flicks, I always prefer the insanely idiosyncratic ones that either totally defy and/or destroy the conventions of the genre and/or bring something aesthetically new (or even avant-garde) to the style with Giulio Questi’s Death Laid an Egg (1968), Elio Petri’s Un tranquillo posto di campagna (1968) aka A Quiet Place in the Country, Dario Argento’s 4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971) aka Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Lucio Fulci's Non si sevizia un paperino (1972) aka Don’t Torture a Duckling, and Silvio Narizzano’s Las flores del vicio (1979) aka Bloodbath being a couple of my notable favorites. More recently, I discovered the whacked-out wop giallo-melodrama hybrid L'occhio dietro la parete (1977) aka Eyes Behind the Wall aka Voyeur pervers aka The Crystal Man directed by actor turned one-time-director Giuliano Petrelli (La villeggiatura aka Black Holiday, La mala ordina aka The Italian Connection) and starring Buñuel regular Fernando Rey (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, That Obscure Object of Desire) in a rather fitting role (sorry, but it is hard for me to believe that old ugly fart Rey could get with the kind of chick(s) he does in That Obscure Object of Desire) as a decidedly degenerate and equally wealthy wheelchair-bound pervert of the pathologically voyeuristic sort who gets off to spying on his tenants, especially of the male persuasion, via a secret spy room in his house. A sickeningly sleazy yet seductively stylish work that mischievously molests Hitchcock by adding gratuitous sex/nudity, incest, and interracial sodomy Italian exploitation style, Eyes Behind the Wall ultimately makes for a cruel celluloid work that is just too damn pathologically perverted to be sexy despite the fact that the film was made to appeal to certain debauched individuals looking for a kinky masturbation aid. A bitter mix of macabre melodrama with incestuous giallo horror, Eyes Behind the Wall, with its depiction of a discernibly despicable (and less than sexually virile) intellectual, seems like it was specially tailored for Hebraic quack Sigmund Freud. About 70 minutes of psychosexual celluloid perversion with some mind-molesting twists and turns that make for fiercely fetishistic cinematic foreplay that ultimately erupts into a literally and figuratively explosive climax that was meant to provoke just as much as it is meant to penetrate the psyche of the viewer, Eyes Behind the Wall is delightful dago filmic decadence that, unlike most films of its now mostly outmoded celluloid breed, somehow demands subsequent re-viewings.
Beginning with the Italian exploitation answer to Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1950) in a scene featuring a young and handsome gent named Arturo (American actor John Phillip Law of Roger Vadim’s Barbarella (1968) fame) staring at a young lass’s legs on a train and proceeding to sexually ravage her against her will, Eyes Behind the Wall then cuts to the seemingly banal bourgeois world of crippled old rich dude Ivano (Fernando Rey) and his ostensible ‘wife’ Olga (Bosnian-born actress Olga Bisera, who played the role of the ‘Baker’s Wife’ in Sydney Pollack’s Castle Keep (1969)), who is young and beautiful and who seems about only half the age of her wheelchair-bound hubby. Rapist Arturo is the latest tenant at Ivano’s home and little does he realize that his landlord is a sinister voyeur who has 24/7 access to seeing everything that he does in his new apartment. Indeed, Ivano has a secret room hidden in the wall with state-of-the-art spying equipment, including a fancy periscope/telescope-like device with which he and his wife watch Arturo’s every move. As Ivano tells Olga, he finds Arturo to be a provocative individual of the “hermetically shut” sort, stating of his particular interest in his new tenant, “What really makes me mad is that, while this apparatus perfectly frames him, I, on the other hand, can’t seem to frame his psychological profile in any way.” Of course, wifey Olga concurs, stating that Arturo is “certainly a strange animal,” though her interest transcends a simple voyeuristic fascination with the fellow’s collection of ethnology, sociology, and anthropology books and affinity for classical and modern avant-garde music.
At the Svengali-like encouragement of Ivano, Olga decides to follow Arturo around town, ultimately spotting the new tenant buying porno magazines and befriending a Negro at a local disco. For whatever reason, Arturo brings the Negro back to his apartment and in no time, the black buck is borderline raping the introverted white boy, which rather turns on borderline psychopathic cripple Ivano but rather distresses Olga, who seems to develop a crush for the quasi-gay boy. Not long after the scene of miscegenation-based sodomy, Ivano remarks regarding his tenant, “It would be interesting to find if his homosexuality is casual or firmly rooted. Or if he brought that torture and pain on himself as some absurd need for suffering” and decides that his wife should befriend and seduce Arturo to investigate, which she has no problem doing, even if her loony love interest was reamed in the rectum by a disco jigaboo. While Olga tells Arturo that he is “just plain weird. Too weird,” she still has passionate sex with him while Ivano watches from the comfort of his hidden spy room. In the end, it is revealed that Olga is not really Ivano’s wife but actually his daughter. Additionally, Olga previously carried on an incestuous affair with her now-deceased brother, who died in a car wreck that also resulted in Ivano’s crippling, hence the why perverse patriarch is now in a wheelchair. Indeed, Olga found Arturo to be alluring because, like she, he is a ‘lost soul’ who never got over a traumatic experience from the past (with Arturo’s ‘traumatic’ experience being raping the chick on the train) and the two decide to cement their bond forever by committing suicide in a car explosion.
A sort of mutated and molested pseudo-hightalian remake of Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) that makes Disturbia (2007) starring Shia LaBeouf come off like a pansy preteen wet dream for posh prepubescent girls, Eyes Behind the Wall ultimately does what all great giallo films should do by making the macabre movie master himself, Alfred Hitchcock, seem like a self-censoring sissy who did not have the glorious gall to go all the way in his psychosexual/psychoanalytic celluloid depictions of human sexual perversity. Of course, Eyes Behind the Wall is nowhere near as immaculately assembled as a Hitchcock flick and even features a seemingly pointless subplot between a misogynistic pederast butler and a blonde teen, but it certainly stands as one the most original and under-appreciated giallo flicks ever assembled as a rather wicked work that manages to juggle morbid melodrama with pop psychology for a most mean-spirited and even misanthropic cocktail with a smashed moral compass that depicts a violent rapist and an incestuous chick as the most empathetic characters. To add to the film’s slickly stylized sleaze credit, Eyes Behind the Wall also features a synth-driven musical score composed by Giuseppe Caruso, who also assembled the score for the kiddy arthouse-erotica flick Maladolescenza (1977) starring Eva Ionesco. ‘Psychopathia Sexualis’ with a distinctly 1970s Italian flare, Eyes Behind the Wall will certainly appeal to the unconventionally refined tastes of Alberto Cavallone and Giulio Questi fans, though I think it might offend the aesthetic sensibilities of those cinephiles that are obsessed enough with the Master of Suspense that took the time to read Hitchcock/Truffaut (1967) by François Truffaut because, as far as I am concerned, Giuliano Petrelli’s film is nothing short of Hitchcock heresy and not of the superficial pseudo-softcore Brian De Palma variety.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 9:25 PM
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