The Plot: Gloria (Serena Grandi) is an ex-porn actress/model who found the love of her life in a very wealthy man. The two were married and despite no protest from her husband she decided to retire from the modeling business and focus on her own magazine called Pussycat. Unfortunate for Gloria, her amazing husband soon passed away in a car accident, leaving her to look after the business by herself. After having a softcore interracial threeway lesbian sex photoshoot one evening, the lead actress is killed right in front of Gloria’s own pool. The only witness to the crime is Gloria’s nosy teenage neighbor Mark (Karl Zinny), who has a nasty habit of calling up Gloria and trying to have phone sex with her. When he calls and tells her of the crime, she just assumes it is another one of his teasings, especially after the body vanishes from the back yard. However, things get serious when a photo arrives at Gloria’s home the next day – it is that of the dead model posed in front of a poster made from Gloria’s final nude photoshoot which has never been released. As the bodies of those close to Gloria continue to pile up, will she be able to figure out the identity of the killer and put an end to this wholesale slaughter?
The Review: I’ve been meaning to catch up more on the Giallo genre for quite some time. Despite being a major fan of most every Italian subgenre you can think of, I feel wholly unequipped when it comes to delving in great detail when talking about giallo flicks outside of those made by Lucio Fulci or Dario Argento. When asking for advice on our forums about which films I should look up, Delirium: Photos of Gioia came up. Considered by some as one of the sleaziest from the genre, how could I dare pass up the opportunity? As a genre geek, I of course could not pass it up. Any flick that starts off with an interracial lesbian threeway photoshoot is definitely not one to sit around and watch with the kids on a Sunday afternoon. Although not too sexually graphic, the film does feature a rather massive amount of nudity. Which, as long as you’re not watching with your mom or a jealous girlfriend, shouldn’t be that big of a problem for most horror fans. I suppose this is where it gets its sleazy reputation from, because the level of brutal violence is far below that of what Lamberto Bava managed to deliver in his classic A Blade in the Dark. Regardless, Delirium does take you on a rather exploitative little journey through some pretty disturbed corridors. From a nude woman with an insects head (more on this to come!) to rape with a glow stick. That’s right, rape with a glow stick. This is THAT kind of flick.
Ahh, the crazy concept of the killer’s POV shot. It’s been done many times, in almost every one of these movies actually and I won’t even say that looking through the killer’s eyes and seeing his deranged visions are anything all that new. However, Delirium definitely does it in it’s own very original way. When we see the first victim walking about, the screen starts to glow red as he stalks his pray and then we see the victim no longer has a regular face… but that of a giant eyeball. Apparently the victim was a witness to the killer’s being there or something? I’m really not 100%, what this is supposed to symbolically represent but I do realize that this comes off as pretty irregular. Downright strange some might say. However, when it’s time for the second hallucination we’re treated to something even stranger as we watch a beautiful and very naked woman exit the shower, only after the red flashes begin her beautiful head is replaced with that of a giant bee. So, of course our killer then unleashes a swarm of killer bees on her. This of course then begs the question why the nude woman wouldn’t jump back in the shower, where surely both the steam from the hot water as well as the pouring water would have scared the bees away. Also, how does anyone dressed in a full fledge beekeeper’s outfit not arise suspicious when fumbling around an apartment building? There’s not a terrible amount of logical sense at work in Delirium though. When you see a person MURDERED in your neighbor’s back yard – who calls the neighbor to ASK them if they want you to phone the authorities? Then the following morning when the police arrive investigating the crime, in 1987 what authorities are going to snatch up possible murder weapons with their bare hands? It’s not like fingerprinting was a invention of the nineties. However, Bava and co. must have never heard of the technology because at every given turn characters are simply grabbing up as many objects that the killer might have handled as they possibly can. Photographs sent DIRECTLY from the killer’s hands? Let’s all pass them around!
Bava was handed a great cast for this film, including some genre regulars. Antropophagus alumni Serena Grandi and George Eastman play former lovers who spark up some of their old kindle. It has been years since last seeing Antropophagus, so I don’t really remember Grandi in it – but after Delirium it’s going to be hard to forget her. I think I’m in love dear VC readers. I don’t care how old she might be now, I don’t care if she’s old enough to be my mother – I would give a limb for a night with Mrs. Grandi. Too much information? Maybe so. The impossibly top-heavy Grandi equits herself well in the roll of a former model and is actually fairly believable in the role. Eastman’s character only has five or six scenes throughout the film and his performance is often called a glorified cameo, but he does leave an impression. Lucky jerk gets to have a love scene with Grandi in a hot tub as well… ahh, but I digress. David Brandon, best known as the rude stage director from Stagefright shows up as the gay cameraman, but never really gets to ham it up like many stereotypical gay characters from the decade. Karl Zinny, the lead from Bava’s Demons, who plays the creepy kid next door who is stuck in a wheelchair really takes his bizarre character to the limits. Even when he’s not being a creep, the guy still manages to come off as a weirdo. Perhaps it’s his freakishly large teeth that do it? Oh well, there’s also Dario Argento’s ex here: Daria Nicolodi who we all remember best from Deep Red. She plays Evelyn the best friend of the super fine Gloria. In another Dario related note, he was actually set to direct Delirium but backed out due to script changes. One must wonder what this would have been in the hands of Argento, since it’s so different than his other giallos from the time period. I can imagine the sex would have been slightly toned down while the violence would have been possibly amplified, with even more visual pinache thrown in. Hmm, I think that flick was already made, it’s called “Any Early Argento Giallo”.
It’s certainly not the most cleverly plotted film ever made. It’s also not the best giallo I have been privy to so far in my young career as a fan, but I do have to say it’s different enough to warrant checking out for anyone out there on the fence. Even if it’s a little formulaic, it is a lot of fun. Bava throws out about a million different Red Herrings that lead the audience to nowhere, and I think a lot of the time that’s what makes the Giallo so much different than your average slasher – in the fact that most of the time you really can’t judge just who the killer is going to be. For all you know the killer could be a used tire salesman introduced three minutes into the film and never seen again. It’s never easy to spot, and Bava introduces about a dozen characters who may not have the most logical reason to be the killer – but if you’re familiar with the Giallo format, you know that the killer’s reasons hardly ever make any sense in the first place. As far as that goes, Bava definitely delivers one of the better reveals in the finale of the film. I’m a bit tore on what I want to rate the film, but I’m going to give it a high three out of five. Although, in a month from now I’ll probably be calling it a four based purely on the amount of fun that the feature delivers. Still, you will find yourself disgruntled with some of the choices various characters make as well as all the genre cliches that pop up. However, I do believe it’s definitely worth checking out sometime.