Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In short: Something Creeping In The Dark (1971)

aka Something Is Crawling In The Dark

Original title: Qualcosa striscia nel buio

A mix of unpleasant strangers - a rich guy (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) and his wife Sylvia (Lucia Bose), physician Dr. Williams (Stelvio Rosi) and his companion (I honestly have no idea what their actual relationship's supposed to be, the film sure ain't telling) Susan (Mia Genberg), a professor with a tendency towards the occult and helpful exposition (Angelo Francesco Lavagnino), two cops (Dino Fazio and Franco Beltramme) and Spike (Farley Granger), the serial killer they just apprehended - are stranded on the same country road when various bridges break down during a storm. Fortunately, there's a house nearby, so everyone decides to just drop in there.

Joe (Gianni Medici), the house's owner, isn't too fond of suddenly having a roomful of strangers in his living room when he was planning to spend some quality time with his girlfriend (Giulia Rovai), but the cops don't take his no for an answer.

So soon enough, everyone's hanging around in Joe's living room, drinking his booze. After the Professor mentions that this house once belonged to a supposed murderess with a background in black magic, Sylvia - after having been insufferable to everyone and having had a strange vision in which she sees herself murdering Spike - decides that it's now time for a little séance. After all, Sylvia's beleaguered husband is a perfect medium.

Unexpectedly - these things never go wrong in movies, after all, that séance turns out to be not such a hot idea. The lady of the house does in fact appear and possess the hubby, but she's very displeased by having been disturbed. Once everyone's gone to bed, the dead woman (in form of an invisible force) begins to possess various members of the party, letting them act out their hidden desires. Obviously, there will be murders, and even more obviously, especially Spike will have a chance to continue with his hobby.

Mario Colucci's Something Creeping is a pleasant entry among the number of Italian variations of the old dark house sub-genre. Unlike its American and British forebears from a few decades earlier, the Italian old dark house movie does not explain away strange and seemingly supernatural occurrences with some preposterous, "natural" hokum. Quite the opposite, a film like Something Creeping relishes the possibility to use the supernatural as a catalyst to bring out its characters' nasty sides.

Not that these nasty sides are all that difficult to bring out or even just to find. Keeping with the tradition of all Italian horror movies - and again in opposition to the classical old dark house films, where all characters were annoying, but usually not utterly despicable - most of the characters here are either so repressed they seem hardly able to show normal human reactions or such utter bastards one can't help but enjoy most of what's happening to them a little too much.

What is happening to the characters mostly fits their various neuroses well enough, and while none of it is surprising, it's quite pleasant to watch the bunch of bastards squirm, the supposed authority figures just try to ignore the truth when it doesn't fit their concept of reality, and Colucci's camera having fun zooming around the rooms while the dead woman breathes heavily on the soundtrack.

Something Creeping isn't the most atmospheric Italian movie of its type, but Colucci makes good enough use of his competent cast and the little special effects his budget allow him to produce a slight, but very entertaining piece of 70s occult horror.


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