Monday, February 8, 2016

The Night of the Executioner (La noche del ejecutor) (1993)

The Night of the Executioner (La noche del ejecutor) (1993) is a nasty exploitation film, starring Paul Naschy, who also wrote and directed.

Naschy plays Dr. Hugo Arranz, a successful surgeon, who is spending his fiftieth birthday with his wife and teenage daughter at his home.  While they were shopping earlier in the evening, a thug spied on them and noticed that Dr. Arranz carried a large sum of money.  This thug and his crew have now invaded the Arranz home during dinner.  They rape and murder Arranz’s wife.  They rape and murder his daughter in front of him, while he remains beaten and bound with his tongue cut out.  The thugs presume Arranz dies, but he survives.  Now unable to speak, Arranz hits the gym and pumps iron; conditions himself with jogging; and becomes seriously adept at firearms and throwing knives.  All that is left is to find the thugs responsible for the deaths of his loved ones.  Back at his home, fresh from the hospital, Arranz finds a flyer for a local bar.  There is a name inscribed upon the back, “Gloria.” 

Naschy writes that, “It has been said that this film is a copy of Death Wish, the film starring the ever impassive Charles Bronson.  There is a grain of truth in that statement but I approached the film from a totally Spanish viewpoint, with the Madrid criminal underworld in mind.  I wanted to make a movie that reflected the sordid side of certain parts of the capital.” (1)  Naschy was inspired to write the screenplay after an experience that he had one evening leaving the gym. (2) He writes:
“Suddenly three scruffy youths appeared in front of me.  They looked like they were out for trouble.  Two of them whipped out hunting knives and I knew what I was in for.  I don’t know exactly what thoughts flashed through my mind at that moment, I just reacted instinctively.  Dropping my sports bag to the ground I quickly unzipped it and got hold of the thick protective belt used for power lifting.  I could feel rage boiling up inside me.  Maybe it was the pure anger of frustration that I’d had to hold back so many times in my life or maybe I saw those thugs as a symbol of all the bastards who’ve had it in for me down the years.  The fact is I just went for them with a vengeance and left two of them in a really bad way.  ¶ It looked like I wasn’t going to be so lucky with the third assailant but, fortunately, the headlights of a passing car put the wind up them and they made a run for it.” (3)
Naschy’s screenplay also embraces the current discourse in regards to the current system of justice, criminals’ rights vis-à-vis the rights of their victims.  Clearly Naschy sides with the victims.  For example, the character of Olga, a magistrate and close friend of Dr. Arranz, advocates for a better criminal justice system and reforming jails and prisons to make them true rehabilitation facilities.  The thugs who assault Dr. Arranz’s family later gang rape the woman in her garage.  Subsequent to her assault, now a victim, Olga ceases to be a staunch advocate for criminal rights but she does not wholly abandon her causes.  I believe Olga, like Naschy with his screenplay, sees the issue as not a completely academic one and one which must confront the rights of victims.

Naschy never abandons his lofty ideals in Night and he certainly is not reticent to put the sensationalism on display.  In a creative scene, Arranz busts through a window like The Terminator upon two thugs in their apartment.  He ices one with his magnum, and with the other, the lone female in the group of thugs who attacked his family, he hesitates.  Naschy’s character has a Bergman/Von Sydow/Virgin Spring moment, where he can see his criminal as human when begging for mercy.  However, Arranz is so overcome with vengeance that he cannot stop his parade of violence.  He ices her.  (This character was shown earlier castrating a guy.)  The thugs who attacked Arranz’s family are part of a larger syndicate who are run by “Cobra,” whose face is never seen by the viewer until the final act.  In my favorite scene of Night, two thugs report to Cobra for orders.  Cobra is in an S&M session and only stops when his thugs enter the room.  In a nifty shot, his portrait is shown but he is hidden behind his S&M mask.  (I don’t know why but I find this hilarious.)  Finally, I believe Naschy’s son, Sergio, appears later in the film.  He is an adolescent boy who lives near Dr. Arranz’s country home.  Arranz has housed Gloria there, in order for her to have a home while she puts her life together.  This adolescent boy meets a very ignominious ending during the final act shootout.

Despite The Night of the Executioner being filmed and released in the early nineteen-nineties, Naschy’s visual style and story content feel straight out of the nineteen-seventies in true grindhouse fashion.  Paul Naschy plays a bad motherfucker in this one, and it is highly recommended for fans of his work.
1. Naschy, Paul.  Memoirs of a Wolfman.  Translated by Mike Hodges.  Midnight Marquee Press, Inc.  Baltimore, Maryland.  2000: p.205.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Sleep of Death (1978)

The Sleep of Death (1978) is a pretty cool Euro production that lost a chance at an audience in the late seventies during the Rise of the Blockbuster.
Based on a story by Sheridan le Fanu, Sleep is about English aristocrat, Robert (Brendan Price), who longs to visit Post-Revolution Paris to gamble, to drink, and to consort with various continental women.  His father will not allow him to do so and arranges for him to be married.  However, fortuitously for Robert, he dies before his wishes are fulfilled.  It’s off to France with his manservant, Sean (Niall Toibin).  En route to Paris, Robert’s coach is almost driven off the road by a sinister-looking coach, replete with the crest of a Dragon.  Inside, Robert catches a glimpse of a beautiful woman.  Robert’s coach gives chase, and they find the sinister-looking coach at an inn outside Paris.  While dining, Robert meets the Marquis (Patrick Magee) who offers to accompany Robert to Paris and introduce him into society.  Colonel Gaillard (Per Oscarsson) arrives at the inn with his guard and he threatens the Count (Curd Jürgens) and his wife, Countess Elga (Marilù Tolo).  Robert steps in and subdues the Colonel.  The beautiful young woman, whom Robert spied within the sinister-looking coach, is the Countess.  Robert is smitten and follows the Countess (with the Marquis) to Paris that very evening.  A young chambermaid is murdered that evening with her throat torn out.  Colonel Gaillard seems suspicious but unsurprised and follows onto Paris…
Sleep is set during a very interesting historical period, the rise of the Enlightenment and the end of Superstition.  It is within these two schools where the filmmakers, screenwriters Calvin and Yvonne Floyd with direction by Calvin, frame their narrative.  One of the most interesting questions to be posed within such a narrative is, “Could one who is so ‘enlightened’ exploit the superstitions of those around him for his own gain?”  The drama which unfolds in Sleep gives an answer to this question. 
During my first viewing of Sleep, I brought my own memories of le Fanu cinema and saw them in the production.  Tolo, who plays the Countess, is eerily evocative of Ingrid Pitt who played in the excellent le Fanu adaptation, The Vampire Lovers (1970).  Both actresses were about the same age in their respective roles.  Sleep also has direct allusions with imagery taken from Carl Theodor Dryer’s masterpiece, Vampyr (1932).  During a second viewing, I was able to put those memories aside and see how cleverly crafted the narrative is.  Sleep is really told from the point of view of Robert, and all the characters appear to the viewer as they would to Robert—The Countess is beautiful and seductive; the Marquis is a kind confidant; and the Colonel seems overzealous and crazy.  Since Sleep is a historical piece, the costumes and the apparent authentic locations also contribute to the narrative’s seductive beauty.  About midway through the film, when Robert attends a masquerade ball hosted by the Count and the Countess, it becomes obvious that Robert is being set-up.  As to what kind of ending Robert is being primed, this remains a mystery.

Patrick Magee and Per Oscarsson are two amazing actors who give easily the best performances in Sleep.  During the final act, when both of their characterizations have a full turn is when both shine.  I especially love how their two story arcs are concluded, with especial note to Oscarsson’s character:  his character’s ending is cryptic, and I use that word with more than one meaning.  The Sleep of Death is an adult drama, wrapped tightly in mystery, for the curious to seek out. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sara (1997)

Sara (1997) is an amazing Polish film, primarily because it has an overarching commercial appeal and is dealing with rather transgressive subject matter.  Or maybe not.  Sara could be classified with its American ilk, like the Kick-Ass films, big studio films with big actors whose subject matter is, let’s say, “edgy.”  Or…I’m just getting old.
Leon (Boguslaw Linda) is a decorated soldier, returning home to his loving wife and two child daughters after a tour.  While he is in the kitchen of his flat with his wife, Leon carelessly leaves his pistol in open view.  One of his daughters picks it up and fires it at her sister.  Cut to a few years later and Leon is still in his flat, but his wife and child have left him.  He has been seeking serious solace in the bottle.  He gets a call from one of his homies to meet a wealthy client for a protection job.  Leon arrives at the meeting place, an upscale bar, and is immediately rebuffed by the wealthy client for being a drunk.  A trio of armed thugs storm the bar, and Leon saves the client’s life.  As gratitude, the wealthy client gives Leon a job and helps him clean up his life.  The job he gives Leon is simple:  protect his teenage daughter, Sara (Agnieszka Wlodarcyzk), as the wealthy client’s enemies may harm her to get to him.  This job turns out to be simple but not easy for Leon…
The narrative of Sara is the romantic comedy, familiar in the American tradition.  Leon and Sara’s relationship begins with playful antagonism:  initially, Leon’s only real task is dropping off and picking up Sara from school.  One evening, however, she wants to attend the basketball game and dance after.  Leon shadows her the entire evening, and visibly irritated and perturbed, Sara steals the car keys from one of her bodyguards and escapes in the car.  Leon gives chase on foot, and Sara has an auto collision on the road.  From within the other car emerges an armed assailant, and Leon shields Sara with his body, absorbing the bullets and saving her life.  (Leon was wearing his bulletproof vest and survives.  Sara’s father moves him into his manor to recuperate.)  Leon now wants to quit but Sara won’t let him:  she has declared her love for him.  Leon has a bit of dilemma regarding the coquettish young lady’s feelings.
Subsequent to his tragedy, depicted in the first act of Sara, the viewer can clearly discern that Leon has a death wish.  There is not much that he is willing to lose or afraid of risking.  Sara begins after her declaration of love seducing Leon, and Leon, after some initial reticence, complies to having a sexual relationship with her.  Sara’s seduction scenes take upon the oddest aspect:  each composition seemingly is not a subjective composition, intended solely for the character of Leon; but rather, the compositions of Sara seem directed towards the viewer.  While the dialogue remains playfully antagonistic between the two, there is something disturbing about Sara’s seduction scenes.  Slowly, Leon begins to articulate warmer feelings towards Sara, and the two have a dinner date at a Chinese restaurant.  They have a sweet tango scene on the dance floor (a la Scent of a Woman (1992) and True Lies (1994)).  Included also is a scene where Leon, in his flat of all places, rides in circles upon his bicycle while Sara rides upon the handlebars.  (I almost started humming “Raindrops keep falling on my head” during this scene.)  The juxtaposition of Sara’s seduction scenes with the sweet, romantic comedy scenes give Sara an odd, off-putting vibe.  (Not to mention the John Woo-esque finale in the final act.)  Like the Kick-Ass films, this quality makes Sara both simultaneously disturbing and alluring, which is quite a unique feat.
Sara is well done in all technical aspects.  The leads are quite good in their roles.  Most of the comedy, even when it becomes repetitious, remains fresh and funny.  In the end, Sara is probably the sleaziest film that is also kind of sweet.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Who Wants to Kill Sara? (Tutti gli uomini di Sara) (1992)

I certainly do not, but Sara thinks somebody does.

Nancy Brilli (Ruggero Deodato’s Body Count (1986) and Demons 2 (1986)) plays Sara Lancetti, a successful divorce attorney who is set to marry Max Altieri (Giulio Scarpati).  They forgo a long engagement and choose to marry fifteen days from Max’s proposal.  They’re happy.  One evening in their flat, a bouquet of flowers arrives with a mysterious message telling Sara not to marry.  Max believes they are the gift of an old bitter boyfriend, and Sara ignores them.  Sara receives a second bouquet and subsequently an obscene phone call that threatens her if she gets married.  Sara does not phone the police, believing her life may be in danger.  Rather, Sara decides to take a trip down memory lane and seek out her old lovers.
Who Wants to Kill Sara? (Tutti gli uomini di Sara) (1992) wants to defy the expectations of the genre from it was so clearly born: the erotic thriller, brought to the A-List from the B-List by directors such as Adrian Lyne with 9 ½ Weeks (1986) and Fatal Attraction (1987) and Paul Verhoeven with Basic Instinct (1991).  In the end, Who Wants to Kill Sara? is a thriller; but its screenplay, by Silvia Napolitano, keeps it as loose as possible, only including the requisite scenes of the genre as they are demanded.

Subsequent to her second bouquet and obscene phone call, Sara begins visiting old lovers.  The first she meets in a café and has a light conversation.  (Implicitly, Sara is able to remove suspects from her list by listening again to her lovers’ voices.)  While their conversation is light, the pair feels a chemistry and Sara and her old lover become flirty.  Despite the duo’s romantic feelings, their meeting ends uneventfully.  Sara then locates ex-lover, Daniele (Claudio Bigagli), who, upon seeing Sara, again, becomes overcome with emotion.  He’s sensitive, and after another uneventful meeting, where Sara eliminates him as a suspect, Daniele shows outside the courtroom to confront Sara the next day.  It was too much for him to see Sara, again, and he has to let her know this.  Sara meets another lover who’s hiding a secret, but in the end, this secret has nothing to do with Sara.
There is an obvious warm nostalgia visiting and reminiscing with old lovers, simultaneously with a danger of reigniting the charged emotions that may have led to that relationship’s ending.  The pitfalls of such dangers are the driving force behind Who Wants to Kill Sara?  The opening scene of the film after Sara successfully defends her client in a courtroom, in the bathroom, Sara is pulled into an empty stall by an unknown man.  The two have a steamy standing love scene.  At the mid-point in the film, seemingly to remind its viewer that Sara is a thriller, Sara pops into a convenience store for some milk and receives a phone call while inside.  A stranger is calling from a phone booth, and Sara gives chase.  She cannot locate the man making the phone call, but soon after, she is attacked near her flat.  Sara escapes with little injury.  As the film builds towards its climax, Sara’s obsession to find the caller grows and causes havoc in her personal and professional life.  During the final meeting of Sara and one of her old lovers, it ends with Sara sharing his bed.  Peppered throughout the film are sexy shots of Brilli in her garter and hose or in her panties.  Erotic scenes? Check.  Thriller scenes? Check.  Erotic thriller?  Not quite.
Who Wants to Kill Sara? suffers from an A-list production forgetting its true, b-movie roots.  The film is lit in a Lyne-ish manner with natural light filtering in through windows, giving its actors a smoky silhouette look at times.  The night scenes, especially the ones in Sara’s flat, are pedestrian.  When the killer is revealed in the final act, I didn’t really care too much.  To be truthful, it seemed Sara didn’t seem to particularly care either.  Obscure.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The House by the Edge of the Lake (Sensitività) (1979)

Intuitively, one would think that The House by the Edge of the Lake (Sensitività) (1979) was directed by Joe D’Amato: the similar compositions (by Alejandro Ulloa; although not quite as good as D’Amato’s); the antique almost colorless yet quite beautiful medieval village setting, as in Anthropophagus (1980); and finally, an emphasis on atmosphere and softcore sex.  However, no.  The House by the Edge of the Lake was helmed by Enzo G. Castellari, not known for his work in this genre, who responded to the question, “Are there any of your movies which you don’t like?”
“Of course. For example SENSITIVIA (aka KYRA, LAST HOUSE NEAR THE LAKE, 1979). We made that one during my holidays in Spain, it was a completely Spanish production, involving some questionable money that had been left from some other, even more strange production. It was some sort of joke for me but then the producer came and said that there is no more money left to complete the film and that he needs my ‘name’ to raise more from other production companies. I was not very happy to see my name on that picture. However he failed to get more money, I returned to Rome and from what I’ve heard, the Spanish producer finished the picture by himself later on. I’ve never seen it but I’m sure it’s completely unwatchable. However, I had a great time with my friends at the Costa Brava (laughs).” (1)

A notation follows this paragraph in the interview where the interviewers note that, “Castellari has since seen the finished film and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.” (2)
Lilian (Leonora Fani) returns to her ancestral and familial home from Italy to do college research about the local superstitions.  Her house sits upon a lake that is avoided by the villagers as cursed.  In the opening scene of the film, a young mother is rowing upon it with her child daughter.  She lets her daughter go to shore, and while the young mother paddles to find a navigable path to the main shoreline, a woman’s hand comes from the lake and pulls the young woman from the boat.  En route to her home, Lilian encounters several bad omens:  she almost hits a blind young girl with her motorcycle; inside the home, she hallucinates a hooded figure who attempts to kill her with an axe; and finally, without Lilian’s notice, a young woman about her age spies on Lilian from a distance who seems none too happy that Lilian is home.  Lilian hooks up with the young people in the village, and later in the evening (after drinking), they decide to go to the cemetery.  Lilian notices a unique grave with a bust of a beautiful woman, sitting atop.  Her date for the evening identifies the plot as the resting place for Kyra, a woman suspected by the village as being a witch.  Her date, whose name is Julien (Alberto Squillante), says the woman was not a witch, because she was his ancestor.  Lilian becomes excited and the two start fucking.  The young woman who was spying on Lilian at her home, named Lilith (Patricia Adriani), is again watching Lilian.  Lilith has a vision of Kyra (Caternia Boratto), becomes aroused, and starts masturbating.  Lilian has an orgasm and faints.  Julien loses his shit and flees in his car.  He has an accident when his car goes over a cliff and he dies.
The simultaneous arousal of Lilian and Lilith happens three more times; Lilith masturbates three more times; Lilian has sex three more times; and two of her partners subsequently kill himself after Lilian faints after orgasm in House.  The lone lover to survive is Lilian’s boyfriend, Edoardo (Wolfango Soldati), while the other lovers who meet suicidal ends (one of whom is Michele, played by Antonio Mayans aka Robert Foster) share a strong connection.  Castellari plays the police inspector who suspects that Lilian has something to do with the murders (but has no proof), while the superstitious villagers turn on Lilian after the second death, believing she is a witch.  Wonderful, Italian-American character actor Vincent Gardenia plays an artist in the village.  He doesn’t think that Lilian is a witch: he knows the real secret behind the killings, as he houses a dark secret himself.  The dramatic action and plot of House is quite simple but the odd history driving the action is rather convoluted.

The House by the Edge of the Lake is obscure and rather inconsequential.  The screenplay isn’t completely compelling—the inclusion of the overtly sexual elements raise the eyebrows of the film.  Subsequently, really only the sex scenes receive any creative treatment and are the only memorable moments of the film.  Hence, the overall Joe D’Amato-esque feeling of the production.  The House by the Edge of the Lake is a film on the periphery of the syllabus for serious students of European cult cinema.
1.   Blumenstock, Peter and Christian Kessler.  “Enzo G. Castellari Part. 2 of an Interview.” European Trash Cinema.  Vol.2, No. 10.  Ed. Craig Ledbetter.  Kingwood, TX. 1994: p. 31.
2.  Ibid.

Friday, January 29, 2016

La stanza della fotografia (2000)

La stanza della fotografia (2000) is an Italian made-for-tv film.  I wanted to see it, because it stars Cinzia Monreale.
La stanza opens in Rome where an older man is driving to meet his lover.  He arrives at his lover’s flat and is immediately gunned down in a professional hit.  Cut to Tunisia and Silvia (Lea Karen Gramsdorff) and her husband, Marco (Roberto Farnesi).  A lawyer visits the couple and tells them that Silvia’s father has been murdered.  It appears that it was the work of the mafia, and he recommends Silvia to not return to Rome.  Silvia and Marco conduct tourist tours for a living and are in the middle of a very unhappy marriage—Marco is extremely abusive towards Silvia.  Cut to Denise (Monreale) whose husband attempts to rape her in the kitchen.  Denise kicks him in his groin and escapes.  Her husband calls some thugs to go and beat upon her.  Denise is confronted by three thugs and is about to get raped again when Silvia and Marco’s tour bus happens upon them.  Marco scares off the thugs, and Silvia offers solace to Denise.  The two women feel a strong bond and promise to see each other again.  One evening, Marco becomes angry and locks Silvia outside in a shed.  The following morning she flees to the home of Denise and her husband.  They tell her that she can stay.  When Silvia returns to her home to gather some things, Denise accompanies her.  When Marco becomes violent again, Denise shoots him.  She says it was an accident, as the two ladies dispose of his body…

I have had a huge crush on Cinzia Monreale ever since I first saw her in Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (1981).  I will see anything that in which she appears.  Despite the fact that her character really only begins her story arc about midway through La stanza, Monreale is the true attraction of the film.  Her opening scene is sleazy—not necessarily because it is depicting an attempted rape, but rather in how it depicts it:  it is shot in the same manner as a typical, consensual sex scene, despite it being a scene of violence.  It is also an opportunity for Monreale to provide nudity.  Tunisia appears to be a hot country, and this affords an opportunity for its leading ladies to don sundresses and short shorts.  Monreale is enchanting in a bikini.  I enjoyed all of this very much.  However, my attention span is painfully short, and these scenes soon became repetitive.  I was forced to confront the story of La stanza.
While the Italian Wiki entry of La stanza credits Sergio Martino as the producer of the film, I recall seeing only his brother’s name, Luciano, in the credits as producer (he also is credited with the story.).  The director is Antonio Bonifacio.  The crew of La stanza want to fashion their production as a twist on Diabolique (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955); and the story is constructed painfully transparent in its mystery.  Silvia begins to have visions of Marco, supposed to be dead, around the city.  She faints and passes out, and Silvia tells her only confidante, Denise, that she is seeing Marco.  Denise begins giving her pills to help her stress and allow her to rest.  The key scene, about midway through the film that undoes the mystery, is a ridiculously contrived one:  Denise tells Silvia that she has to go to the Italian consulate to renew her visa and will be gone most of the afternoon.  She goes.  The viewer is treated to a scene of Denise calling Silvia from the consulate.  Silvia is attacked by a man whom she believes is Marco and she ends up killing him.  It is not Marco but Denise’s husband.  Doesn’t that trip to the consulate seem a little too convenient?
I possess an average intelligence; apply only rudimentary logic while watching mysteries; and have a high tolerance for ineptitude.  Having admitted this, La stanza della fotografia bored me with its tired story and execution.  The photography and performances are quite good, with especial mention, of course, to Monreale.  However, the world in which these characters populate is far from alluring.  Silvia is being set-up to take a fall—this much is obvious.  From the first act, it is obvious why she is.  The only question remaining is:  why am I watching this?  Cinzia Monreale.  La stanza is recommended only for her die-hard fans.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Eyes Behind the Wall (L’occhio dietro la parete) (1977)

Eyes Behind the Wall (L’occhio dietro la parete) (1977) is a weird Italian film. A giallo?  No.  However, the opening scene certainly suggests so.  A young man (John Phillip Law) shares a train car with an attractive young woman.  His eyes are drawn to her exposed legs, and he becomes aroused while watching her cross and uncross her legs.  His arousal prompts him to strangle the woman (and presumably, because it is not shown) and rape her.  Cut to attractive Olga (Olga Bisera) in a wealthy manor.  She joins Ivano (Fernando Rey) for dinner.  Discussion ensues about their new tenant, as they house a rental cottage on their property.  Ivano has been spying on his new tenant, named Arturo (Law), and is fascinated by his behavior.  Arturo spends all of his days alone listening to only classical and modern, progressive music.  He reads heady tomes, such as major philosophical and science works.  Ivano knows little about him after observation.  Where does he go when he leaves?  How does he produce income?  Olga sees Ivano’s spying as an intrusion upon someone’s private space but she is indulgent of his behavior:  Ivano is a writer, disabled and unable to walk.  He feels unable to move about in polite society to gather experiences to inform his writing.  So Ivano is reduced to spying.  Ivano is so into spying that he has installed a state-of-the-art monitoring device which allows him to view Arturo in his flat with complete discretion.  After dinner, Olga and Ivano go to spy upon Arturo in his apartment.  When Arturo sheds his clothes and engages in his exercises, Ivano prompts Olga to watch.  The old man strokes young Olga while she watches.  After their viewing session, Ivano suggests that Olga follow Arturo when he leaves at night and learn what he does.  Olga reluctantly agrees…
Eyes strives to elevate itself beyond mere sensationalism and cast a drama within the milieu a generation questioning its sexual mores and taboos.  (Although, in the end, I think director and writer Giuliano Petrelli was struggling to balance the sensationalism and his ideals.)  Law’s character, Arturo, is presented as a curious but seriously confused individual (hence, the opening scene).  He seeks solace and knowledge in books, but when confronted with the real world and his emotions, he shuts down.  For example, on the trolley Arturo gets cruised by a dude who invites him to a nightclub for dancing.  Arturo doesn’t participate in the dancing—when an attractive young woman sheds her clothes on the dance floor, it is a little too much for him.  The guy invites himself to Arturo’s flat, and Arturo doesn’t understand his flirty behavior.  (I have to admit that I laughed quite a bit when Arturo was getting buggered and screaming bloody murder).  Eventually, Ivano prods Olga to arrange a meeting with Arturo and get to know him.  She brings Arturo the lease to sign and invites him out for the day.  Arturo is able talk politics and philosophy, but he is as socially-awkward as Travis Bickle when it comes to articulating his feelings.  Olga seduces him that evening in his flat (much to the chagrin of Ivano taking in all of the details via his spy-scope):  Arturo tries to initiate sex by anal penetration, but Olga, like a consoling mother, tells him no and takes over the reins in the lovemaking.  Olga and Arturo also have unique sexual identities vis-à-vis each other, and even their butler, Ottavio (José Quaglio) has his own secret sexual hang-ups and quirks which director Petrelli thinks is worth exploring with some sensitivity.
The premise of Eyes is too incredulous to be taken seriously while simultaneously, the film is too realistic to be arty.  At its end, Eyes is too heady—more anthropology than cinema.  The end result is an average film.  However, beyond its artistic approach to the subject matter, Eyes is entertaining.  There is enough mystery to each character to make viewing compelling.  Fernando Rey is an amazing actor and is able to be quite captivating as Ivano, despite his character really never leaving his study or the dining room.  Beautiful Olga Bisera plays the perfect accompaniment as the curious female to John Phillip Law’s shy Arturo.  The sensational elements of Eyes never take over, but they become focal when on display.  In the end, erotic filmmakers, like Tinto Brass with La chiave (1983), for example, make more compelling films, both artistically and intellectually, when dealing with this subject matter.