I love Italian horror and what is there not to love.
Gore, guts and gratuitous nudity coupled with some crazy ideas equals a country that has produced a whole host of films both freaky and fun.
Starting with the 60’s Giallo, full of psycho killers and police investigations, and moving through to the more paranormal dominated 80’s, Italy has produced a whole host of horror. And some truly talented directors including Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and the auteur of this troubling treasure, Lamberto Bava.
Macabre is in fact Bava’s first film, and the moment he stepped out of the vast shadow of his father Mario Bava, proving his own terrifying talent for shocking cinema. Papa Bava was a master of murder movies, and made some of the classic Giallo’s including Blood and Black Lace and Twitch of the Death Nerve.
After cutting his teeth helping out his padre, Bava Junior went on to make his own mark directing some true classics such as A Blade in the Dark and the devilishly delightful Demons. It is easy to see Bava’s talent, creativity and artful cinematic eye, even in this early work – something which elevates Macabre above other 80’s horror movies.
Inspired by a real newspaper story, the film takes place in New Orleans where futile housewife Jane (Bernice Stegers) leaves her children home alone, while she sneaks off to a boarding home to meet her lover. A disturbing series of events leaves both her son and her lover dead, and her psychological state severely fractured.
Released from a mental institute a year later, she moves into the boarding home allegedly ‘all better’. However her strange behavior prompts the blind landlord to suspect that she may be continuing her affair with her dead lover in a genuinely macabre way.
Okay so the front cover of this DVD somewhat gives away the horrible twisted twist in this tale, but it is still a film well worth watching. Bava sets up an unsettling and creepy mood very early on, and keeps the tension high regardless of whether you know what Jane has locked away in her freezer box or not. The psycho-sexual story is unnerving and disturbing, taking a taboo as its central theme – still alarming, even in today’s liberal world where we believe that we have seen it all before.
With some great effects, nasty characters and brilliant performances (especially from Stegers) this is a classics horror even with the dodgy dubbing. Add to that an excellent DVD package including a poster, 12-page interview with Bava himself and bonus material on the DVD and this is well worth getting hold of.
If you like your horror eerie and unsettling then Macabre is the movie for you. Trust me though once you have watched it you will never be able to look at leftovers in the fridge the same way again.
Additional film information: Macabre (1980)