BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA **** Italy / France 1971 98 mins Dir: Paolo Carvini.

Ennio Morricone’s lush, erotic, breathy themes are at the core of this well made, compelling early 70’s giallo, in which the beautiful, adulterous ex-wife of an insurance salesman is killed at home by a mysterious figure in familiar giallo garb, who injects her with a long acupuncturists needle before tearing open her abdomen with a knife. Handsome detective Giancarlo Giannini is on the case, facing a typical array of eccentric giallo characters, including someone referred to as “The Catapult” anda wonderfully camp health spa employee who reassures his hirsute lady customers that “the moustache is in”.
Barbara Bach, one of three former Bond girls enhancing the eye candy of the movie, is among the victims (her body ends up literally in the trash) in a movie offering various red herrings en route to a guessable climactic reveal that offers a PSYCHO-style laboured explanation for the actions of the impotent, cuckolded killer. It’s the set pieces, however, that have ensured this film’s enduring reputation in the giallo world. The brilliant, brutal assault on a woman in a fur shop, during which the killer emerges from a disorientating sea of mannequins, and a well done foot chase are stand-outs in a film that confidently employs the camera and knows how to turn the thriller screws effectively.

Review by Steven West

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