Inspector De Pol, played by a young boy with a fake wig and moustache (/an allegedly 33 year old Jeff Blynn), is trying to solve a double murder. The victims, a young couple called Fabio and Flavia, liked drugs (the only thing we see him write in his police notebook is 'Flavia, Fabio-drugs') and sex. Well, Fabio liked sex, of a peculiarly perverted bent, and Flavia went along with it, for the most part. We know this because lengthy flashbacks of their romantic escapades make up a good proportion of the running time. Anyway, some photos of an orgy which are found in their apartment lead them to one of the participants, Marzia, an old school friend of Flavia's (who must have been kept back several years). She's the subject of threatening phone calls from her ex, who murders a prostitute who also featured in the orgy pics. After a couple more murders, the ex is apprehended. He confesses to the three kills we've witnessed, but claims that he had nothing to do with the Fabio/Flavia killings. This turns out to be accurate when a local nosey parker, who was previously interviewed by the police, suddenly decides to come clean with some vital info which quickly leads young De Pol to the grim truth. Then the film's over, and it's time to take a long, cleansing shower.
Where to start? This is an absolutely insane film, which is clearly an incredibly cynical attempt to attract a cross section of audiences who enjoy the baser things in life. Specifically sex, rape and torture. The mystery aspect is risible, with the attempts of the police to identify suspect numero one, Marzia's ex, being woefully inadequate. They end up IDing him by tracing the sale of a gun he used; why didn't they follow the threatening ex angle more, and get an ID on him that way? Granted, the threatening ex wasn't necessarily the killer, but he was certainly a prime candidate. And, as it turns out, he was the killer.
Well, he was the killer of three people (and we see him, face and all, during all three, so I'm not spoiling anything here). The initial mystery-who killed the Fs-lasts right throughout the film, until the sudden change of heart from the peeping tom. He has a nerve to greet the Inspector by saying he's been waiting for him to pay him a visit; the police already talked to you you old fool!
So the plot is stuttering, at best. But the plot is only a minor player in this film; it mostly exists to show tits and torture. The flashbacks to Flavia and Fabio (whose sexual problems may be related to the fact that he looks suspiciously like Barry Manilow) are interminable; we get a sense of their characters within a couple of minutes-he likes drugs* and can't have straightforward sex; she goes along with it, for the most part, because she loves him. Once that's established we remain with them for a long, long time, to little end. Well, we do get to see Leonora Fani masturbating, and then being raped by Barry Fabilow, but is it worth the huge amount of screen time these acts take? (Yes and no, respectively, is my answer.)
The rape turns into a classic Peckinpah Rape, with Flavia seemingly won over by Barry's limp persistence, in the first of several fairly distasteful sequences. It's also not the only Peckinpah Rape, either. When you're crossing your fingers that a late scene remains a straightforward rape, without taking yet another about turn to become a PR, something's deeply wrong. Still, is it Peckinpah Rape if it's with your wife or partner? Of course it is! That was a trick question to weed out the dickheads. If you answered no, piss off and enlighten yourself. But yeah, the numerous sex scenes cross the line in more ways than one.**
So, the film contains near wall-to-wall sex. Inspector De Pol says that the key to the case is sex (although he says the same re: drugs minutes before), and sex is integral to the plot, if not necessarily smoothly integrated to the film itself, with the fleshy scenes occasionally performing a narrative function, but more often than not grinding everything (except one grinding thing) to a halt, a la porny sex.
Things also grind to a halt for a gruesome torture/gore sequence, which is surprisingly effective. Most of the gore is passable, at best, and the effects in this sequence aren't perfect, but the concept of the scene (naked woman tied to a table's leg is sawed open [her leg, not the table's]) is icky enough, and one or two of the money shots are queasily powerful. The killing of the prostitute, via a scissors to the (UK & Ireland) fanny is also conceptually disgusting, but rather less effectively executed, with the dummy legs looking particularly fake. I hesitate to say it, but a much tighter framing would probably have benefited the scene. The thigh sawing scene actually finishes in a similar manner, but with slightly more restraint (PUN ALERT [the woman's restrained, remember]), which works much better.
Jesus, it's impossible to talk about this film without being infected by its extreme scuzziness. Anyway, to return to the question of style I raised in my introduction; there is a discernible style/approach in most of the scenes, and it's straight from the Jess Franco school of timesaving filmmaking. Time and again we get very long takes, with the camera panning and zooming from a fixed point. That way you get constant movement and (semi-)dynamism from a minimum of set-ups. There are very few shots in the film compared to the average 70s effort (and especially compared to the average modern-day one). This allows you space to contemplate how exactly your love of the filone, which was doubtless ignited by the Bava/Fulci/Argento/Martino classics has led you down this dark, dark alley.
There is something compelling about the film, in that you can't quite believe that something like this was commercially released and competently made (the soundtrack, which does mostly consist of recycled cues from Interrabang!, is impressive, and the camerawork is consistently good, in that the lengthy takes are competently framed and operated). One or two scenes do even approach a Franco-esque level of erotic charge (one of which-a brilliantly-soundtracked sequence of a coupling turning into a threesome in a cinema-features a surprise wanking cock), although there's so much sex and nudity that some of it had to be effective by the law of averages. There are way too many rapes for comfort, and the plot is borderline derisory-why did Marcia open the door to her apartment the night after her rapist/lover has been murdered? And how were there not more witnesses to Barry and Flavia's deaths, given the heavy boat traffic passing through in the background? But still, you don't watch this film for the Christie-esque plotting. And, be honest, you do want to watch it after reading this, don't you? You sick, sick bastard.
*He's not great at taking drugs though; his first toot of coke sends most of it dispersing into the air
**They cross the line in two ways; morally and in the ropey adherence to the rules of camera placement