18 September, 2007


When I recently complained about the reality of turning 55 a female friend assured me that 55 is the new 30. If that's true, then Mariangela Giordano (Jess Franco's KILLER BARBYS) proves that 70 is the new 39 in MALABIMBA UNCOVERED, Severin Films documentary extra on their brand new MALABIMBA DVD. Vivacious and still alluring in her 7th decade she demonstrates to us all how to age intelligently. This elegant, talented lady has been acting in all sorts of European genre films for over 5 decades for such directors as Riccardo Freda, Jess Franco, Mario Landi (PATRICK LIVES AGAIN) and Mario Bianchi, whose SATAN'S BABY DOLL (1982) will also street in a superior Severin Films DVD presentation on September 25.

Mariangela plays dead in Andrea Bianchi's BURIAL GROUND: THE NIGHTS OF TERROR.

MALABIMBA (1979) is Andrea Bianchi's outrageous erotic horror film featuring Mariangela as a nun who attends to the needs of a highly dysfunctional Italian family and ultimately sacrifices herself to save the main character from eternal damnation. Yes, it's MARIANGELA, THE EXORCIST. Bianchi (credited as Andrew White) directs with blasphemous gusto, leaving plenty of room for post-production hc inserts.

Katell Laennec is the young lady who becomes possessed by some kind of demon and causes all Hell to break loose in the picturesque Castello Balsorano, where numerous 50s, 60s and 70s Italian horror classics were lensed, including SATAN'S BABY DOLL, which also features Mariangela in virtually the same role as MALABIMBA. Both films were written by the prolific Eurogenre scribe Piero Regnoli (I VAMPIRI) who would become a horror director with THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE (1961). That fact may explain why both films have the same characters, story, individual cast members and locations. But that doesn't get in the way of the fun, it enhances it in it's-deja-vu-all-over-again fashion.* Ms. Giordano shares the focus of the documentary with veteran cinematographer Franco Villa (SLAUGHTER HOTEL) who notes that MALABIMBA is a "dignified" horror film which he attempted to compose with a touch of class.

Both features are presented in excellent 16:9 transfers and are a pleasure to view after years of fuzzy, untranslated dupes. I'll be doing another blog on the films, the DVD specs, the extras and Mariangela in the near future.

In the meantime get ready for a Halloween double bill of wild and crazy Italian EXORCIST rip-offs!

Bonus Quiz: What famous Jess Franco starlet is featured in the 1961 Italian peplum URSUS along with Mariangela Giordano?

*Thanks to Yogi Berra

(C) 2007 Robert Monell


Anonymous said...

That would be the beautiful Soledad Miranda. Keep up the great work! The blog is fantastic!

Robert Monell said...

Correct. Soledad is already heartbreakingly beautiful in her third feature film role. And thanks for the kind words about the blog.

Bill Todd said...

Interesting to see a reference to Yogi Berra in this blog. He and Jess Franco share a birthday of May 12th.

David Zuzelo said...

GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY! I can not wait to get my hands on these discs and I'm looking forward to the reviews. I sure do love Malabimba-that is a great film.
Uh..."dignified" might be a touch off though.

Douglas A. Waltz said...

Soledad is awesome. Last night on IFC they played THE DEVIL CAME FROM AKASAVA! Unbelievable!

Robert Monell said...

Thanks for the birthday factiod, Bill. I'm into all areas of obscure trivia. I think someone could do a numerological analysis of JF's films. There seem to be all sorts of hidden patterns in them.

Robert Monell said...

I highly recommend the MALABIMBA DVD, David. For me it was like seeing the film for the first time after years of squinting at poor dupes. I haven't seen LA BIMBA DI SATANA all the way through yet or the extras but sampling it seems to indicate it's going to be the best version yet of this obscure film.

Robert Monell said...

Doug, I have a theory about AKASAVA, that either she shot some scenes which aren't included in the final edit or that she still had some shooting left to do when she died.

She has that spectral quality even in this early appearance in URSUS and was the only reason I watched the film.