17 May, 2008

John Phillip Law's Eurotrash Masterpiece...



John Phillip Law had a special talent for projecting a youthful masculinity with an other-worldly edge, especially in his roles as the blind angel in Vadim's BARBARELLA and the mysterious costumed fumetti super villain in Mario Bava's DIABOLIK. I remember first seeing him in THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING during its initial 1966 theatrical run when my parents took me to it because it seemed like a clean-cut comedy alternative to the horror movies I had been obsessively seeking out. Several years later I managed to catch BARBARELLA at the drive-in (definitely not a "family values" movie) and and he seemed to be sprinkled with superstar dust as he flew away with Jane Fonda. If he never achieved that status he was certainly what could probably be called a "cult" actor whose striking presence would front European genre films during the 70s and 80s in between supporting roles in mainstream US films.

I'm choosing to salute him on his passing last Tuesday with this brief appreciation and lurid video cover box for my favorite of his film performances, his out-of-the-park hit as the demented Van Gogh-obsessed painter Charles Saint-Simone in Sergio Bergonzelli's 1988 BLOOD DELIRIUM (DELIRIO SANGUE). This is a jaw dropping blending of LUST FOR LIFE, COLOR ME BLOOD RED with such value-added extras as necrophilia, human-flesh eating dogs, ghosts and Gordon Mitchell doing things you've never seen him do in his other European roles. Law is joyously over-the-top and you just can't keep from smiling while watching him let it rip as the mad artist who daubs human blood on his canvases with a lusty passion. He really seems to be enjoying himself in this classic of European Trash cinema. I wonder if he would want it to be remembered. But I remember it and how much I enjoyed him in it and always enjoyed his committed intensity in whatever film he happened to be in.

If you ever get a chance to catch BLOOD DELIRIUM (outside of grey market videos/DVD-Rs it has had a legit release on any US video format as far as I know, although there was a Greek video around) don't hesitate to indulge yourself. It's the kind of outre, under the radar Italian horror film which bobbed to the surface decades after it was made to the delight of connoisseurs of the truly bizarre.

I would also like to see another obscure JPL film, the 1977 Italian thriller L'OCCHIO DIETRO LA PARETE, which also doesn't seem to be out on US video. If anyone knows of any English language video versions available of this please note it in the comment area.

(c) Robert Monell, 2008




5 comments:

ecom said...

There's a subtitled release from LFVW on DVDR. I've never come across an English language release but the undependable imdb lists a US title as EYE BEHIND THE WALL and a UK title as THE CRYSTAL MAN.

Robert Monell said...

Thanks, Eric. Yes, I've also seen those imbd titles and I talked to someone last night who has an Italian language version with the title EYE BEHIND THE WALL as the onscreen title.

© Hernádi András said...

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i170/inframads/DSCN1622.jpg

This is the GREAT poster art for the movie. Here in Europe, the Greek subtitled vhs was in English (as 'Blood Delirium').

Robert Monell said...

Welcome to the Franco blog, Hernandi. Thanks for the link. I have the Greek subitled VHS, which is just OK in terms of video quality. I hope to see a good DVD someday.

mike said...

i watched this about a month ago and was very satisfied with it. parts of it are a bit of a train wreck, but there are some other oddly metaphysical parts that i think work out brilliantly.