Thursday, September 5, 2013

oedipus orca


Only in Italy, or possibly Japan, could a Marxist kidnap-sexploitation thriller with an underage girl spawn a sequel. Picking up right after the climax of La Orca (1976), Oedipus Orca opens as the police return teenage kidnap victim Alice Valerio (Rena Niehaus) to her wealthy parents, Enrico (Gabriele Ferzetti) and Irene (Carmen Scarpitta). Traumatized after shooting her captor and rapist dead, Alice remains angry her father refused to pay the ransom. So she sulks around the house, snaps at her parents and fends off boyfriend Umberto, who can’t quite grasp why a rape victim is so unenthusiastic about fooling around. On a trip to the country, Alice revisits the shack where she was held captive and reminisces about her ordeal whilst masturbating in bed. Things get really heated when Irene introduces an old family friend, Lucio, whom Alice comes to suspect is her real father, thus explaining why Enrico has always treated her so coldly. None of which explains why Alice sets out to seduce Lucio with fatal results. Although this sequel falls short of the original’s insulting suggestion the misguided kidnapper-rapist is more sympathetic than his spoiled little rich girl victim by virtue of being working class, it retains a strain of spurious sociopolitical sermonizing that sits awkwardly amidst scenes of outright sexploitation. Some sources claim the actor playing Lucio is actually filmmaker Eriprando Visconti, evidently preferring a hands-on approach to directing former Playboy Playmate Rena Niehaus, who was mercifully a good few years older than her schoolgirl character. Oedipus Orca falls into a uniquely Italian subgenre of morbid psychosexual dramas aimed at satirizing the bourgeoisie. While its basic thesis, that the rich value wealth above even their own children, seemingly cuts right to the heart of Italian society, the scattershot approach fails to raise a single lucid point. Even worse, although Visconti exhibits a little more sympathy for Alice this time round, the film persists in characterizing this troubled teenager as some sort of mythological siren driven to lure men to their doom. “You’re a monster”, says Umberto, having failed in his attempt to feel her up. Characters continually tell Alice she is crazy and the film seems to agree, failing to address her obvious issues. Umberto again sums up the film’s attitude to Alice towards the finale where he basically abandons her saying he is sick of her neuroses. Whilst the flashbacks recycling footage from the original film serve a purpose, they still smack of padding. The main plot meanders interminably with characters gabbing endlessly but saying little of merit, intercut with pointless sex scenes including Irene performing oral sex on Enrico and Alice screwing Umberto openly in front of Lucio’s voyeuristic gaze. Their sexual liaison makes little sense but then none of the characters behave like rational human beings, even when factoring into account the after-effects of the kidnapping ordeal. All the female characters get naked, including Alice’s little sister, for no obvious reason beyond titillation. Despite the muddled characterizations and the lingering sense the script was written by pseudo-intellectuals with suspect attitudes towards women, the performances are uncommonly strong including Niehaus, who remarkably spoke no Italian at the time. Animal lovers will abhor the unnecessary sequence set in a real slaughterhouse that features graphic images of cows being slaughtered and disemboweled.