BLUE MOVIE is one of the strangest films Ive ever seen. One of the most obscure of the many late 70s Italian genre films, it only became available in an English subtitled version in the late 90s (through the grey market), and has never received an official English release.
The film opens with the credits, which are displayed over montages of photographic stills to the sound of repeated gunshots. Silvia (Danielle Dugas) and a man with a stocking over his head are walking in a tranquil countryside setting. They seem friendly, but suddenly the man starts to molest her you knew what was going to happen here, he tells her. The woman tries to flee, but he catches her and rapes her (let the show begin! he cries whilst ripping her clothes off). The actual rape is not shown, but the next image is of the woman running to a road, her shirt torn open and her body and face smeared in blood. A red mini stops and the man inside (Claude Maran/Claudio Marani) lets her get in (I know who I was this morning... but now Im someone else, she tells him). He drives her back to his place and we learn that his name is Claudio and hes a photographer (though he later claims to be a mechanic; photography is merely his hobby). Silvia tells him about her attack, but her account differs from what we were shown, particularly as she speaks of three attackers. She also says that she killed one of them with a rock, and that she fears the others will come after her to kill her. Claudio agrees to let her stay, but locks her in into a part of the large apartment.
Meanwhile, a model called Daniella (Dirce Funari) arrives for a photo session. This ends with her performing fellatio on Claudio, after which she asks him whether he loves her. In reply he slaps her several times and calls her an idiot. Claudio goes out to a bar to pick up some empty cans (his apartment is full of them) and the bar tender indicates a girl sat at a table. She has no money to pay her bill (shes from a town that was destroyed by a volcano) and Claudio pays it for her, then takes her back to his place. Intercut with this scene is a sequence in which Silvia dreams shes being chased naked through a forest. Silvia decides to get cleaned up but when she runs the bath the water comes out red... an arm reaches out of the water and grabs her, but its just hallucinations.
A black man calls at the apartment, obviously looking for Silvia. Claudio tells him to leave, but it soon becomes apparent that he hasnt, when Claudio watches him having sex with the girl from the bar, who is called Leda. Silvia finds some of Claudios photographs and looks at them through a projector, but when Claudio discovers this he flies into a rage, and makes her act like a dog in return. Later, Claudio finds Daniella and persuades her to return to his apartment. She tells him that she wants him to help her, as reality doesnt affect at all. He agrees, and explains that he will treat her like one of his cans. He locks her in a room, then when shes hungry he makes her masturbate him in return for food (you look just like a dolls ass he tells her afterwards). Next he makes her urinate into some of the empty cans in return for more food, and later she defecates into a tray and stuffs the faeces into cigarette packets. Claudio rewards her with a cigarette, much to her disgust (What a bastard! Just one cigarette for two packs of shit! she complains).
Later Claudio photographs Silvia outside. They return to the apartment, and Silvia becomes drunk and is sick everywhere. The black man comes to speak to her, and it is unclear exactly what relationship they are to one another. Claudio photographs Daniella smearing excrement all over her body and face. When he leaves, he leaves the door open as well as some food. After a moments consideration Daniella chooses the food. Later, Silvia steals Claudios keys whilst he sleeps and finds Daniella. She binds her hands and wraps a plastic bag over her head, suffocating her (you never existed! she shouts). She returns to Claudio and the two somehow become the couple Silvia imagined earlier in the woods. Claudio seems to be the attacker from the start of the film and Silvia bashes his head in with a rock. Next the two are back in the photographic studio and Silvia strangles him with a wire (Ill kill you again!). Finally, we see Claudios body slumped in a chair, a gun by his hand on the floor and a hole in the side of his head. Cut to the final title card: FINE.
As should be apparent to anyone who bothers to read through the above synopsis, this is quite an extreme and confrontational film. Not only is it edited and filmed in an aggressively unconventional manner, there are brief hardcore scenes (reminiscent of THEY CALL HER ONE EYE / THRILLER A CRUEL PICTURE (1974, Bo Arne Vibenius)) likely to further isolate the film from a mainstream audience. Additionally, stock footage of Vietnam, war atrocities and a monk setting himself alight (as depicted on the famous cover of Rage Against the Machines debut album) are intercut with the more sexual/violent scenes. The scatological subject matter is depicted in a matter-of-fact way and the reasons why Claudio wants the cans and cigarette packets filled so delightfully are never mentioned, leaving it up to the viewer to infer his motives.
BLUE MOVIE's most obvious influences are Antonioni's seminal BLOW UP (1966), Andy Warhol's BLUE MOVIE (1964), which I haven't seen, and Dusan Makavejev's SWEET MOVIE (1974), which it references both in its title and in the depiction of a woman smearing herself with a brown substance (chocolate in SWEET MOVIE). It also reminds me of several other extreme underground films: SINGAPORE SLING (1990, Nikos Nikolaidis), SALO (1975, Pasolini), THE PIG-FUCKING MOVIE (1974, Thierry Zno), the afore-mentioned THRILLER - A CRUEL PICTURE, NOISY REQUIEM (1988, Yoshihiko Matsui), POSSESSION (1981, Andrzej Zulawski) and, bizarrely, THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE (1972, Vicente Aranda). These films all feature elements that BLUE MOVIE brought to mind, but it stands alone as a completely unique statement about God-knows-what.
BLUE MOVIEs director, Alberto Cavallone, was a kind of one-off anarchic surrealist figure in late 60s/70s Italian cinema, but is very little known outside of Italy. His early film LE SALAMANDRE (1968) was moderately successful, but he chose to make more and more uncommercial films, culminating in the career suicide double whammy of 1977s SPELL and 1978s BLUE MOVIE. He filmed BLUE MOVIE in just one week, on a miniscule budget, and edited it himself. The actors in the film were nearly all amateurs, though Dirce Funari (credited as Patrizia Funari here) will be familiar to genre fans thanks to her lead roles the following year in Joe DAmatos EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD and PORNO HOLOCAUST, both of which featured her in hardcore scenes. The music in BLUE MOVIE is a mixture of Bach and Offenbach, which fit the tempo and mood of the film very well.
If you want to know more about Cavallone, there is very little English language material available in books or even on the internet. The best resource I know of is an excellent career overview by Roberto Curti, which you can find here: http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/cavallone.html
- Tom Foster