Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Eye in the Labyrinth (1972, Mario Caiano)

Eye in the Labyrinth is Italian director Mario Caiano's only foray into the wild world of Gialli. I was familiar with Caiano from the film Napoli spara! (Weapons of Death) and had seen his name listed as director for numerous other Italian Cult films. What really attracted me to this film though was famed Italian character actor Adolfo Celi, best known as the Bond villain in 1965's Thunderball (and in the 1967 Bond ripoff Ok Connery). Though frequently cast as a villain (including in Bava's brilliant Diabolik), one of my favorite roles he did was as the adulterer friend of Vittorio Gassman in Luciano Salce's 1965 spy spoof Slalom.

Eye in the Labyrinth stars Rosemary Dexter as Julia, a woman trying to find her boyfriend Luca (Horst Frank), who has disappeared. After being led into an abandoned building and almost killed by a mysterious man, she is rescued by Frank (Celi). Julia is soon led to a commune owned by Gerda (Alida Valli), where she believes Luca may have been staying. Among the other residents are a peeping tom servant (whose artwork plays an important part in the fim), a transexual, Gerda's younger lover and more. Julia soon learns that the commune is a cover for a drug smuggling operation and that Luca was somehow involved.

With a varied cast of beautiful weirdos, a story that has more twists than the Amalfi Coast and some skillfully crafted cinematography, Eye in the Labyrinth is a classic, yet original take on the giallo genre. Dexter does a suitable job as the heroine stuck in a walking nightmare that she can't seem to escape from. Celi is great as the enigmatic, gangster-like Frank and the equally mysterious Gerda - played by Alida Valli (best known from Carol Reed's 1949 classic The Third Man) keeps you guessing her secrets until the end. Though the momentum seems to slow down towards the end, the unexpected climax more than makes up for the film's minor flaws. Not as by the book as many of the better known Martino or Argento gialli, Eye in the Labyrinth is well worth getting lost in. Check out the beautiful transfer on the Code Red release, as it brings the film to life like never before.

Fun Facts -

-In 1972, Adolfo Celi also starred in the giallo Who Saw Her Die? with fellow 007 actor George Lazenby

-Other than Giallo, Mario Caiano directed films from many different genres of Italian cinema - Spaghetti Western, Poliziotteschi, Nazispolitation, Gothic Horror and Gladiator films

-Eye in the Labyrinth was released on Spanish and Swedish VHS

Eye in the Labyrinth was released on DVD and Blu Ray by Code Red DVD.  You can purchase directly from Code Red HERE , from Screen Archives HERE or from DiabolikDVD HERE.

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