MACABRE (1980)
posted 00/00/2008

Directed by:
Lamberto Bava

Bernice Stegers ... Jane Baker
Stanko Molnar ... Robert Duval
Veronica Zinny ... Lucy Baker
Roberto Posse ... Fred Kellerman

Country: Italy
Runtime: 89 min
Original title: Macabro

This is the first Lamberto Bava film I have seen and to be quite honest with you it wasn’t bad. Even among Italian genre films of this era this was in it’s own league, easily differentiating itself from Fulci and Argento. Macabre to me feels like a cross between a sleazy novel and an E.C. horror comics tale but with a peculiar mood all of it’s own. Since this was my first Lamberto film (son of Mario Bava) I was a bit upset at first because I really was unprepared for what I was going to see and feel.

The story opens with Lucy (around 9) and her younger brother Michael who would probably be four or five. They are playing in front of the house. The whole story is rooted in New Orleans and every character has that distinctive accent. Lamberto, I think, was really trying to sell the New Orleans setting because in every other shot that is not indoors features typical New Orleans culture to remind us where we are and I kinda liked that. It really adds flavor to the perverted passions up ahead. So, the kid’s mother Jane Baker is getting ready to meet her lover. Since this has presumably happened often before the kids and Mrs. Baker is lousy at disguising her getaways. Lucy has grown spiteful of her mother and begins a weird plan to throw things into disarray. And she starts by drowning her brother Michael in the bathtub. How this could be revenge is only logical in a twisted mind and Lucy is just that.

Jane is madly (literally) in love with Fred who shares a pretty nice two story New Orleans architecture type house with his brother Robert, who is blind and fixes trumpets for a living, and their mother who’s name escapes me. Fred looks like a weak generic trash punk dude in his mid forties. He even has an earring to prove he’s tough and services married women on the side. As soon as they hear the news Fred and his unlawful lady head out in a hurry and get into a car accident where a large beam decapitates Fred leaving Mrs. Baker traumatized. She is later taken to a mental institution and remains there for a year. But the flames of passion have not yet been extinguished.

Jane, upon her dismissal from the institution, works out some (yet again odd) agreement with her husband to stay at the house of her dead lover with his blind brother (mom died) and Lucy and Dad visit every once in a while. I suppose Mr. Baker wants nothing to do with her and I’m right as he later demonstrates to Robert.

The three key characters from this point on are Jane Baker, Robert and Lucy. Jane starts doing strange things in her room by lighting candles and making memorials with pictures and tokens from Fred. Then she lays on her bed and masturbates (supposedly) without touching herself but she moans and breaths heavy. All this is heard by Robert downstairs and I guess he gets turned on because he prepares romantic dinners for her, but often she turns him down nicely to spend the evening locked in her room reminiscing about her wild love affair with Fred and pseudo masturbating.

Lucy drops by the house often to snoop and play some mean tricks on her mom. The blind man gets aroused and gets fresh with Mrs. Baker during a strange erotic bed-making scene. Later on she withdraws deeper into her sole obsession with her dead lover.

What follows is a twisted confrontation with Lucy and a horrible secret revealed which puts the icing on the cake. If you are not familiar with Lamberto’s work like I was you will probably be thrown off by the mood but believe me that the muddy psychotic world he’s leading us into will grow on us.

  - Jorge Antonio Lopez


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