Sunday, April 26, 2009

Stelvio Massi's Black Angel (1989)

Deborah (Tinì Cansino) is a tad overexcited. Her husband, Frank (Francesco Casale), is a writer bound to a wheelchair. On their wedding day while driving, Frank becomes excited by Deborah, and they crash. Frank becomes disabled, and Deborah is desperate. She goes one evening to an underground sex club, where she nearly gets kidnapped to become a sex slave before a police raid happens. A police officer rapes Deborah before she can speedily exit and steals her purse. The following morning, the same police officer arrives at her home and demands that Deborah do the deed. Deborah's willing and with Frank watching, Deborah kills the police officer. Frank will cover the crime up: in fact, he wants Deborah to continue her sexual escapades. Frank will use them as fodder for his novel, and as an added plus, a killer is following (?) Deborah, leaving no lover standing. That's okay for Frank, too: his novel's heroine will be the Black Angel.
Director Stelvio Massi, like Joe D'Amato, began cinematic life as a cinematographer before moving into directing. Massi never gave up being a cinematographer, and often his photographic talent exceeded the budgets of the films on which he worked. His films are notable, because like a bandit, each film captures a series of small shots that reveal a clever and crafty artist behind the camera. A genre legend, he made some of the best Eurocrime movies of the 70s, my favorites being the Marc the Narc trilogy with Franco Gasparri. He made a number of films with Maurizio Merli with Fearless Fuzz (1977) being a standout. His eighties work includes Black Cobra (1987) with Fred Williamson and Hell's Heroes (1987) with Miles O'Keefe and Williamson and this one, Black Angel (1989). Massi adopts the gialli eye for Black Angel, e.g. the voyeur. Not an inch of flesh is spared of sexy Tinì Cansino, whose role appears her last. The camera eye roves over her body continually, often in subjective shots of the killer. The sensational scenes, especially the scene of Deborah cruising the strip for male hustlers, are wildly atmospheric, and the police procedural scenes are handled perfunctorily, as in the numerous Eurocrime films Massi helmed before. As such, the plot ain't new nor is it really that exciting. Anyone familiar with late-80s, late-nite Skin-emax flicks have seen this one coming way before Paul Verhoeven blew the lid off in Basic Instinct (1992). Black Angel is seething with sexuality, from the sex scenes to the murders to Frank's relationship with his live-in mother, Marta (genre legend Evelyn Stewart, ne Ida Galli). Black Angel is straight-up sexy sleaze, no chaser. I've never seen Massi plumb the depths as he does in Black Angel. Not even Snake Plissken in John Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981) found this much sleaze in the underground, but for the willing, Massi puts it down there for the curious to find.

1 comment:

Mr.LargePackage said...

Male hustlers are large and in charge.