Another Hole In the Head 2011 Film Festival runs June 2nd through the 16th at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. Check out the Festival Genius site for film schedules and tickets.
Ubaldo Terzani Horror Show
Directed by Gabriele Albanesi
Tue, June 14th @ 520pm
Alessio Rinaldi (Giuseppe Solari) is a young director who loves his horror wet, red, and slathered across naked women. Sadly, he can’t find a market for his interests and the studio won’t work with him anymore if he insists on making movies in that splattery vein. He concedes and accepts the screenwriting help of a well known author of artistic, plot-driven horror novels named Ubaldo Terzani (Paolo Sassanelli). He’s soon besieged by graphic nightmares, and as the two begin their collaboration the source of Ubaldo’s horrific inspiration comes clear. And by clear I mean barely visible behind a crimson shower of blood.
Alessio makes three mistakes in his search for success. The first is compromising his artistic vision. The second is leaving his very hot girlfriend, Sara (Laura Gigante), to go stay with the seductive and mysterious Ubaldo. And the third? Well the third is still leaving his gorgeous girlfriend behind in a bid for success. Seriously. She’s beautiful.
He also ignores the warnings emanating from his subconscious in the form of bloody nightmares that always end with him being murdered or otherwise physically maligned. One sees a shadowed figure stabbing him until his intestines spill out onto the floor, and another sees a sensuous kiss turn into a vicious bite that removes one of his lips. He brushes it all aside and moves in temporarily with the horror icon, but things get progressively weirder. Some photos of Ubaldo with female fans go from typical to highly suspect, a woman they meet at a party goes missing, and those pesky nightmares threaten to invade the real world.
And then Sara arrives all hot, bothered, and easily seduced by Ubaldo’s spot-on impression of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man In the World.
Italy is well known for its genre films, but it seems the country’s blood-soaked glory days are long gone. One need look no further than Dario Argento’s output of late (late meaning the last fifteen to twenty years) to see the country’s downward spiral away from horror greatness. But it’s not just the quality that’s diminished, it’s the quantity. There just haven’t been very many Italian horror films in recent years (or at least very few that reached our shores).
Writer/director Gabriele Albanesi’s second stab at the genre is a rare exception, and thankfully it’s somewhat of a success… albeit one on a tangibly small scale. The film is intentionally paced almost like a dream at times, and Albanesi doesn’t skimp on the blood and gore effects. There’s plenty of grue to be found and it’s well crafted to boot. The two lead actors do a fine job appearing friendly while hiding their real suspicions and desires beneath the surface, and Sassanelli in particular brings ominous weight to the character of Ubaldo even as it marks him as the unavoidable antagonist.
It’s that small scale inevitability that prevents much here in the way of surprises as the path to the ending feels fairly straightforward from the opening frames. The film’s revelations come well after viewers will have already expected them, and that’s often too big of a problem for the little film’s narrative to overcome. It works better thematically and visually as a return to thrillers shot and scored with effort and style, and it offers a glimmer of hope for Italy’s future of horror.
The Upside: Bloody and well done practical effects; interesting commentary on state of Italian horror; Laura Gigante is a very attractive woman
The Downside: No real surprises; underwhelming ending; feels small
Check out all of our Another Hole In the Head Film Fest coverage here.