Thursday, April 30, 2015

VINEGAR SYNDROME'S THE CUT-THROATS - DVD REVIEW


Although masquerading as a WWII picture, it becomes apparent rather quickly that John Hayes’ The CUT-THROATS (1970) has more in common with Lee Frost’s influential sexploitation effort, LOVE CAMP 7 (1968) than your typical action flick.  Opening with “The Ballad of Jimmy Johnson”, a rather lowly but sombre tune – accompanied by some crude artwork of a soldier harnessing a lasso – this uncharacteristic film follows a group of soldiers at the tail-end of WWII, led by the rather inscrutable Captain Kohler (E.J. Walsh?), who are assigned to infiltrate a German stronghold (which actually turns out to be a brothel) and steal some “detailed charts and battle plans”.  As in Robert Aldrich’s The DIRTY DOZEN (1965), Kohler’s men – it’s actually only a half-dozen this time around – get the job done without a hitch, but Captain Kohler’s true intentions are soon revealed: namely a million dollars’ worth of Nazi plunder.  As he tries to figure out how to get the riches out of the camp, he and his men decide to “enjoy a little entertainment”, but Sergeant Tackney (Jay Scott) begins to fall for one of the “beautiful Nazi women” (Inge Pinson).

Revisiting the setting of his earlier WWII picture, SHELL SHOCK (1964) – itself likely influenced by Anthony Mann’s riveting MEN IN WAR (1957) – Hayes uses the military scenario as mere backdrop to a film whose primary motivation is to show as much female nudity as possible; and on that level, the film succeeds admirably. Five minutes into the film, a lone German soldier (an uncredited Michael Pataki – future star of Hayes’ most well-known film, GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE [1972]), encounters a young woman, whom he proceeds to rape in a prolonged and uncomfortable scene; it’s certainly a downbeat opening, and, like Meir Zarchi’s much later I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978), is made all the more effective by the complete lack of music.  Thankfully, once at the brothel, while the men smoke cigars and sip cognac, the film becomes more playful in its attitude as the women perform an amateurish stage show, and then get the soldiers into bed.  In a particularly bizarre scene, one of the women’s bedrooms is virtually plastered with Nazi paraphernalia, including Swastika-adorned bed-sheets; set dressings which are so over-the-top as to be almost appear comical, despite all the negative connotations of the hated symbols involved.  Meanwhile, in another part of the country at German headquarters, soldiers are celebrating the recent declaration that the war is over; which results in an impromptu striptease by a female soldier (played by the decidedly top-heavy Uschi Digard) as John Hayes and his DP Paul Hipp zero-in on Uschi’s biggest assets.  Back at the brothel, further softcore sex takes up more of the film’s narrative, but, eventually, the women try and defend themselves, and this results in the expected “bloodbath”, with a few twists and turns along the way.

Our dirty half-dozen enjoying a little entertainment.

As a war picture, The CUT-THROATS isn’t very convincing or memorable.  Filmed in the hilly, desert-like outskirts of Los Angeles at some abandoned ranch, which is a poor stand-in for the German or European countryside – although forgivable, considering the film’s obviously low-budget – the few-and-far-between action scenes are actually rather effective despite their somewhat sparse execution.  Although not fully-developed, but far more interesting, are the characters’ desperate attempts at having themselves some sort of life following all the hardships and horrors of the war, no matter what the cost; whether it’s plundering some forbidden Nazi jewels or finding solace in a another’s woman’s arms, these men and women have been changed by the conflict, some for the better, some for the worse.  During the opening “Ballad of Jimmy Johnson” (“…our laughter brings back the joys of past days.”), Jimmy is killed in the opening few minutes, which provides the necessary incentive for Sergeant Tackney to escape this hell (“I kill because of orders!”).  Not looking too deeply into many of the character’s motivations – this is, after all, a cheap sexploitation flick – it would seem director Hayes had some intention to explore this facet with a little insight not afforded to him; he was probably obligated to provide the film with as much titillation as possible, sometimes at the cost of an entirely different fleshed-out narrative.

Inge Pinson and Jay Scott.

Like many directors who worked in the prolific world of low-budget filmmaking in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, John Hayes (1931-2000) never received the recognition he probably deserved, and not much was really written about him until the publication of Stephen Thrower’s indispensable book Nightmare USA (FAB Press, 2007).  As mentioned earlier, he is probably best remembered for GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE and its companion piece GARDEN OF THE DEAD (1972), a horror quickie produced as a second feature for said film, which only runs about an hour in length.  Later, before he embarked on END OF THE WORLD (1977), a mostly execrable horror/sci-fi pic with a noteworthy cast including Christopher Lee, he wrote and directed (under his Harold Perkins pseudonym) BABY ROSEMARY (1977 – also available from Vinegar Syndrome), which, despite being a hardcore porn film with horror overtones, is far more thought-provoking and challenging than most of his work.  As he continued to toil in the porno ghetto during the ’80s, he also directed an episode of the George A. Romero and Richard Rubenstein syndicated TV series Tales from the Darkside (1983-1988).

Produced as a Limited Edition DVD with a print run of 1,500 copies, Vinegar Syndrome’s print of The CUT-THROATS was “scanned and restored in 2K from 35mm vault materials”, and given that this is the film’s DVD debut, it has never looked better.  Extras are sparse, with just a brief stills gallery – consisting of original B&W stills courtesy of Bruce Holecheck from Cinema Arcana – and the original theatrical trailer (“They met their match when they met the women of the Third Reich!”).  This DVD will be available for free if you purchase Vinegar Syndrome’s May 2015 package (available on May 12th) or June 2015 package.  If any stock remains, they will sell them via DiabolikDVD in a couple of months for $12.00.  Like all the Vinegar Syndrome Limited Editions, grab a copy before it disappears for good.    

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

MASSACRE VIDEO'S SPINE - DVD REVIEW


One of the many, regionally-produced SOV (shot-on-video) efforts from the heyday of the home video boom in the ’80s, this once-forgotten ‘film’ began to garner some notoriety among VHS collectors when said tape – housed in one those big oversized boxes with typically garish cover art – started commanding exorbitant prices online.  Well, thanks to Massacre Video, anyone who wishes to revisit this film can now do so without breaking the bank.

Like most of these SOV efforts, the plot is rudimentary, which this time revolves around Lawrence Ashton (R. Eric Huxley), a sadistic killer in mirrored sunglasses who has been cutting up nurses in the L.A. area, removing their spines, and sometimes leaving the name Linda written in blood, hence the film’s original vidbox tagline, “He’s looking for Linda…and that could be anybody!”  Obviously, this leaves the police baffled, and during a debriefing between the detectives (including lead detective Leo Meadows [Antoine Herzog], whose baseball cap continually changes from scene to scene, in some sort of obvious in-joke) and their police captain, all they can deduce is that “he’s obviously pissed off at someone named Linda!”  Lawrence continues his murder spree – sometimes right under the noses of our “shrewd” lawmen – and then enters the home of two nurses, Carrie (Janus Blythe) and Leah (Lise Romanoff), and holds them captive for the remainder of the film, where, to our benefit, he explains everything.

Contrary to the rather lurid subject matter, SPINE is actually devoid of any nudity (save for some partial, fleeting breasts) and decides to play it relatively “safe”.  As revealed in an interview (contained as an extra on this disc) with co-director Justin Simonds, he and his co-director John Howard were persuaded by the cast to refrain from nudity, which, in hindsight, he actually regrets.  Just the same, an aura of sleaziness still permeates the entire film, which is most likely mainly attributable to the look of the shoddy lo-res ¾-inch videotape on which it was shot; and, to a larger degree, the numerous scenes of bondage (always involving knots and ropes), which the killer subjects his victims to before “removing their spine”.  In an interesting side-note, Simonds also reveals that before embarking on this project, he and Howard were shooting “specialty” videos with the thinnest of plots, whose main impetus usually revolved around “women being tied-up”, and like those earlier projects, SPINE simply expands on those with a ‘fleshed-out’ plot.  The film’s modus operandi is still the same (both Blythe and Romanoff spend a good portion of the film tied-up), but this time, lots of stage blood is splashed around as the killer does away with his victims.  Although, similarities to the real life Richard Speck murders - on July 13th, 1966, Speck held a number of nurses captive at their dormitory and methodically raped and killed them - are uncanny, co-director Simonds swears he and Howard were never influenced by this heinous event, but Howard was inspired, to a degree, by Brian De Palma’s DRESSED TO KILL (1980).   

Lawrence Ashton (R. Eric Huxley) removin' a spine.

Much of the narrative is also devoted to scenes of police procedurals (“17 stab wounds in the chest…27 in the back”) with the lead detectives, who can’t ever “get a handle on this thing”.  But, in a hilariously naïve moment, detective Meadows uses a “state of the art” computer system that can “correlate different factors” like “nurse”, “strangle”, “knife”, and “Linda” to help find anyone associated with these murders; but it isn’t until he types “spine” into this ‘super-computer’, that our murderer is revealed (“Alright!  We’ve got ’em now!”).  Why he never did this in the first place is anyone’s guess, but hey, this is a silly movie, after all.

The biggest surprise of this film is the presence of actress Janus Blythe, who, before this film, appeared in a number of horror and exploitation films, including Stu Segall’s C.B. HUSTLERS (1976) and DRIVE-IN MASSACRE (1977), Tobe Hooper’s EATEN ALIVE (1977), William Sach’s The INCREDIBLE METLING MAN (1977), and, most famously, in Wes Craven’s The HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) and its sequel The HILL HAVE EYES PART 2 (1984).  Aside from the other two leads (Huxley and Romanoff), Janus Blythe is the only one who displays any modicum of acting talent, while the rest of the cast is only amateurish at best; the scenes with the cops are especially awful!

Certainly not for all tastes, the fine folks at Massacre Video have nonetheless rolled out the red-carpet treatment for yet another forgotten SOV production.  Originally released by 4-Play Video, a company that also apparently distributed porn films, even back when it was first released, copies of SPINE were difficult to locate, so it’s nice to finally have this obscurity readily available once again.  Like most of these “spur-of-the-moment” productions, the backstory is always much more interesting than the actual productions themselves, and Massacre Video managed to locate both co-director Justin Simonds and actor R. Eric Huxley, who are rather perplexed that fans of the film actually exist.  In a pair of on-screen interviews as well as an audio commentary, they are amiable about SPINE just the same, and provide plenty of info about its genesis and the pitfalls of low-budget filmmaking.  A stills gallery and a couple of trailers for other Massacre Video titles round out the extras, and as per their usual high standards, they have also provided reversible cover-art, which replicates the original – and unique – big box cover art.  Order SPINE here. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

SAN BABILA 8 p.m.: A SENSELESS CRIME - BLU-RAY REVIEW


Following his more lurid and sensationalist The TEENAGE PROSTITUTION RACKET (1975), director Carlo Lizzani took on yet another ‘torn-from-the-headlines’ story with this disturbing look at a small group of neo-fascists, who, in the rather turbulent sociopolitical climate of Italy during the ’70s, populated the busy piazza of San Babila in Milan.  In this small area in the heart of Milan, even the polizia turned a blind eye to their many troublesome and illegal activities.  The film’s title is actually derived from a murder that took place on May 25th, 1975, when a young student was violently stabbed to death by a group of neo-fascists; a crime which served as the prime motivator for Lizzani to embark on this project.

Unfolding in an almost documentary-style fashion, the film follows the exploits of four young men, including Fabrizio (Pietro Brambilla), Michele (Giuliano Cesareo), Alfredo (Pietro Giannuso), and Franco (Daniele Asti), the lattermost of whom is the youngest of the group and trying hard to ‘fit in’, but isn’t immediately trusted because he’s “never been to jail”.  Following the funeral of a respected fascist supporter, whom they disrespectfully refer to as part of a group of “half-dead mummies”, they end up in San Babila inciting violence against the ‘communists’ and trying to stay out of the “communist police clutches”.  However, the police merely stand idly by and are ordered to “stay where they are” whenever an incident breaks-out in San Babila – which run the gamut from vandalism to public beatings, and so on – but when Fabrizio and his cohorts are accused of smashing some scooters at a Left-leaning high school, an undercover cop from the squadra mobile doesn’t (or maybe just can’t) follow through, because, as it turns out, Fabrizio is an informant.

Later, they meet Lalla (Brigitte Skay), a rather ditzy street walker who has a predilection for wearing overly high platform shoes, which at one point results in her getting slapped around by Fabrizio on the steps of the Duomo, this after she refuses to remove said footwear, simply because he doesn’t like the fact that she is taller than him.  Earlier, in one of the film’s more controversial scenes, Franco is rather forcefully persuaded to make love to Lalla in the dingy, basement storeroom of an appliance store where his friend Alfredo works, and, even though Lalla is game at first, she is beaten and raped with a club when Franco can’t perform.  Immediately afterwards, she is threatened with death if she “tells the others”.

From left to right: Franco, Fabrizio, Alfredo & Michele, just a few of the "Sanbabilini".

Although the narrative primarily focuses on the aforementioned small group, their extreme Right Wing viewpoint extends to a much larger group of young men, who defend their San Babila turf like a ‘fortress’ or “Medieval castle”; such territorialism is demonstrated in a number of scenes when passersby are pelted with marbles from a slingshot, or, in one of the film’s most significant – if rather far-fetched – scenes, a large number of these men march in goose-step through the streets of San Babila, as curious onlookers observe with equal parts utter confusion and revulsion, while Ennio Morricone’s hard-hitting music ever increases in volume.  Incidentally, many of these scenes were actually shot covertly, producing some truly amazing reactions amongst the local populace, who assumed that what they were witnessing was actually real rather than merely staged.  This is further evidenced when our four leads purchase some dildos at a sex shop and then, in a brazenly vulgar moment, hang them from their pants crotches while standing in the street, causing numerous REAL citizens to react with stunned and angered expressions.

Some of the most alarming – and, quite frankly, disturbing – scenes in the film involve the youths’ possible recruitment by the Far Right into committing politically-motivated bombings and mass killings, the sorts of serious crimes which were plaguing Italy at the time.  At an illegal gun range somewhere on the outskirts of Milan, Alfredo is propositioned to “carry a briefcase” from Tuscany, and, although the fact is never specified, this mysterious briefcase would have undoubtedly contained some sort of explosive device.  Back in San Babila, Michele acquires some sticks of dynamite, with plans to detonate them at the headquarters of some left-wing union, which they eventually coerce Franco into doing.  Dressed in his customary pointy boots and mirrored sunglasses (this rebellious fashion statement seemed to be the norm at San Babila, and was almost regarded as their uniform), Lalla conveniently accompanies him on the Metro, but when she casually mentions something about San Babila, this immediately alerts the other passengers as to what he represents.  Panicked, he gets off the train, but, in one of the film’s best-realized scenes, once at the union headquarters, during a panic-stricken moment Franco neglects to light the bomb’s fuse.  He then gives his ‘comrades’ the excuse that the fuse had been wet, but when Fabrizio finds out otherwise from one of his many contacts, he and the others – in a nerve-wracking, drawn-out scene which is difficult to watch – force Franco to try and murder a communist, a killing which leads to the titular event.

Variety ad courtesy of Mike Ferguson and Steve Fenton.

With the exception of Pietro Brambilla (he had a small part in Pupi Avati’s The HOUSE WITH THE LAUGHING WINDOWS [1976]) and Brigitte Skay (star of Bruno Corbucci’s sexy swashbuckler ISABELLA, DUCHESS OF THE DEVILS [1969]; released on U.S. video as MS. STILETTO), SAN BABILA ORE 20 UN DELITTO INUTILE was, like The TEENAGE PROSTITUTION RACKET, also populated with many non-professional actors, which allowed Lizzani to achieve the required “snapshot” of a disturbing and confusing time in Milan’s history; the fact that Lizzani filmed many scenes in the very same locations, which were still occupied by many right-wing extremists, is fascinating in and of itself.  Director of photography Pier Giorgio Basile also adds plenty of verisimilitude to the proceedings, with his ‘hidden’ and hand-held camerawork further accentuating the required realism which Lizzani strove to achieve.  As with most of the director’s work within the crime genre – beginning with his impressive and influential BANDITS IN MILAN ([1968] released theatrically in the U.S. by Paramount as The VIOLENT FOUR) – he was always inspired by true-life events or characters (CRAZY JOE [1974] comes readily to mind), which help imbue many of his films with a realism not typically seen in the pulpy, action-oriented poliziotteschi of his contemporaries, and which reveal far more truths about all the societal turmoil and tumult then currently affecting/infecting Italy.  And, even though some of the events were intentionally staged so as to appear authentic to the general public (i.e., the goose-stepping parade through San Babila), the film still manages to convey a very troubling time in Italy when rampant, “senseless” violence was an almost daily occurrence. 

Camera Obscura once again delivers another outstanding Blu-ray (Region B-locked) of this rarely-seen film, which includes a number of equally fascinating extras.  First up is commentary with Marcus Stiglegger and Kai Naumann (subtitled in English), who provide plenty of information and history about this one-of-a-kind film; as always, it’s a great, fact-filled listen.  Next up is a lengthy documentary (just over 65 minutes) with assistant director and actor Gilberto Squizzato, who also divulges many interesting facts about the film and the career of Carlo Lizzani.  A brief interview with the late director (1922-2013) is also included, wherein he discusses his move into directing and working with Italian movie mogul, producer Dino De Laurentiis.  An Italian-language trailer, photo gallery and a booklet featuring an essay with film historian Christian Kessler are also included.

It goes without saying that this is another highly recommended release from Camera Obscura, and an instant must-purchase.  For those who so desire, it is also available on DVD.  Order it from Diabolik DVD.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A LOOK BACK AT GIULIANO CARNIMEO'S SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL


Translation of an Italian newspaper ad (2/75): ‘Love… Hate… Violence… Vice… Sentimentality… Emotion…

Pani, as Guido Salvi: “Milan is getting more dangerous than Palermo!

Highly reminiscent of Sergio Martino’s work during the same period – films which, incidentally, were also all produced by Sergio’s prolific producer brother, Luciano Martino – this rather uncharacteristic Eurocrime venture was “Anthony Ascott”/Giuliano Carnimeo’s only proper foray into the genre, and even though it could rightfully be classified as a “romantic” film, there are enough “crimeslime” elements to say otherwise.

Opening with peaceful, early morning views of the Duomo in Milan and bread deliveries, smalltime hood Guido Salvi (Corrado Pani) emerges from an all-night casino and is almost shot during a drive-by, which injures his partner-in-crime (Antonio Casale) instead.  Speeding off in his car, Salvi races through the streets to get his ‘friend’ to the mob-connected doctor (Corrado Gaipa), while composer Luciano Michelini’s fast-paced title track plays on the soundtrack.

Salvi, like his injured buddy, turns out to be one of many men currently working for Milanese crime boss Riccardo Sogliani (Richard Conte), a tough, uncompromising individual who is currently at war with Zuco (Ettore Manni), a rival Swiss drug smuggler.  Not made implicitly clear, Salvi may have had some ties with Zuco at one point, which accounts for the attempted hit on his life, which Sogliani dislikes immediately.  “When you start shootin’ in the streets, that’s bad!” remarks Sogliani.  But, in a rather hypocritical move, Sogliani torches Zuco’s warehouse hideout, which kills two of Zuco’s men while Zuco himself barely escapes with his life.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the story begins to unfold at a Bergamo coffee shop where Anna (Edwige Fenech) works as a cashier and is immediately intrigued by Salvi’s rather tough demeanour and flashy sports car.  He begins to court her (“You wanna break out, but you’re afraid to.”), and even though she is reluctant at first, she eventually succumbs to his advances and the allure of seemingly endless amounts of cash and shopping sprees.  Naturally, her mother (Carla Calò) disapproves directly from the onset, as though she herself might have gone through the very same thing in her younger years, while her dad (Aldo Barberito) merely shrugs it off (“You’re the mother. I work hard all day!”).  Despite disapproval from her parents and her better judgment, Anna is eventually lured into Salvi’s violent and controlling world, but when Salvi begins pimping her around for many of Sogliani’s influential friends and business associates in Milan, the physical and mental abuse quickly escalates. 

Meanwhile, Sogliani and Zuco continue their territorial beef, so when Zuco refuses to comply with Sogliani’s wishes to give up the drug trade, he is quickly dispatched via a roadside car bomb (“So long…punk bastard!”).  Further complications arise when Anna gets pregnant, but fortunately for her, Salvi is arrested for the murder of Albino (Bruno Corazzari), a former rival, which enables Anna to finally move on and have the bastard’s bastard child just the same.  Always cleaning up loose ends, Sogliani also has his concerns with Anna, but with the help of his lawyer (Umberto Raho), they decide to “forget” about her, and with the help of her friend Loredana (Laura Bonaparte), she gets a job at a bookstore back in Bergamo while taking care of her son Paolo (Paolo Lena).

Years pass as Anna adapts to her new life, but when Paolo becomes ill, she befriends Dr. Lorenzo Viotto (John Richardson), a “good man”, who, almost immediately, begins to take an interest in her.  Apprehensive at first, Anna eventually falls for him, especially when her son Paolo, in a typical tearjerker moment, remarks, “Can I have a Papa?”  Of course, Guido is eventually released from prison and comes looking for her.

Danish video sleeve

Adapted from a story by producer Luciano Martino and Sauro Scavolini, this was originally put together specifically for Fenech – who was married to Martino at the time – in order for her to branch out from the numerous “erotic” gialli she primarily became known for.  With added input from prolific scribe Ernesto Gastaldi and Francesco Milizia – who himself would go on to write many of Fenech’s subsequent comedic films – SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL relies heavily on numerous clichés, but much like Damiano Damiani’s astonishing The MOST BEAUTIFUL WIFE (1970), it’s one of the few films that focuses primarily on the innocent, and rather naïve, women within the criminal underworld.  Unfolding like any number of Eurocrime films, which were popular at the time, the Milanese underworld serves merely as backdrop, as Anna’s initial fascination and happiness quickly turn to torment and abuse.  Anna’s doe-eyed innocent is well-portrayed by Fenech, and even though she is immortalized for her many gialli and, later in her career, for her undemanding succession of cuddly T&A bimbas in various commedia erotico entries, Fenech manages to carry the entire film with relative ease, giving a committed performance that allows her to expand on her acting abilities; which, even in the English language version, is well-dubbed by veteran voice-actor Susan Spafford.  Primarily a theatre actor, Corrado Pani adds plenty of conviction to his role as bastardo Salvi (he would go on to play a similar scuzzball in Sergio Martino’s The CHEATERS (1974) alongside Luc Merenda), with which some comparisons can be made to Tomas Milian’s vehemently nasty Giulio Sacchi character from Umberto Lenzi’s ALMOST HUMAN (1974) a year later.  Salvi’s scruffy, unkempt hair, weasel-like behaviour and uneasy alliances with his ‘associates’ give his character an edgy, almost paranoid feel, as he deals with his many insecurities and frustrations.  Of course, being the typical male chauvinist, he vents much of his frustration on Anna, slapping her around one moment and then forcibly making love to her the next (“You got me right outta my mind!”), which at the start Anna, rather halfheartedly, goes along with.  Their tumultuous relationship is certainly difficult to watch at times, and even though Fenech disrobes on numerous occasions, her requisite nude scenes never serve as titillation, but only accentuate the ‘trophy’ status which Salvi places on her; she is merely another object in Salvi’s life, which he callously uses as a means of ‘getting ahead’ in the world.

Supporting roles are also well-cast, with Richard Conte playing a mob boss once again, as he did in Sergio Martino’s The VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS (1973) that same year, although this time around his character is much more sinister and calculating, and he doesn’t allow anything or anyone to stand in his way of achieving full control of the Milanese underworld.  John Richardson doesn’t really come into the picture until the third act, which, incidentally, becomes similar in execution to the many Neapolitan sceneggiate efforts from the late ’70s; his character is the polar opposite of Guido Salvi, and, much like Anna’s son Paolo, is just another person who ultimately suffers due to the selfishness and brutality of Salvi.

Slick production values also add immensely to the film.  Marcello Masciocchi’s camerawork is fluid and crisp, and he and Carnimeo manage to encapsulate Fenech’s earthy sex appeal into just about every frame.  Mention should also go to underrated composer Michelini, who creates a highly effective score which captures all of Fenech’s torment, abuse and sadness with equal aplomb.  His score ranges from the aforementioned and fast-paced track “Il mestiere di uccidere” – which is an absolutely terrific piece of music (rivaling many of Franco Micalizzi’s more popular tunes composed for some of Umberto Lenzi’s best crimeslime opuses) – to the melancholic and beautiful “Tema di Anna,” featuring the timeless voice of Edda Dell’Orso.

Insert booklet from Hexacord's soundtrack CD.

Originally produced as simply ANNA, the subtitle “A Particular Pleasure” was later added to the title, which presumably intentionally makes the film appear more like one of Fenech’s many sex comedies.  The original English-language export title of THAT CERTAIN ENCOUNTER is a much more fitting (if admittedly rather bland) title, which would definitely have had difficulty securing an audience.  When NoShame Films released this title on North American DVD back in 2005, they retitled it under the more titillating title SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL, which now appears to be the film’s most widely known title.  To confuse matters even further, MYA Communications then released it in 2010 (minus NoShame’s extras) as ANNA, THE TORMENT, THE PLEASURE.

While most fans of ‘traditional’ Eurocrime may be put off by the multitude of confusing and less than inspiring titles, SECRETS OF A CALL GIRL is definitely worth tracking down, either as an enthusiast of Eurocrime or simply for the alluring presence of Edwige Fenech in one of her finest roles.