aka MANIAC MANSION
aka LEATHER AND WHIPS
aka HOT BED OF SEX
(Italy - 1972; US release 1978)
Written and directed by Silvio Amadio. Cast: Farley Granger, Barbara Bouchet, Rosalba Neri, Nino Segurini, Umberto Raho, Patrizia Viotti, Dino Mele, Petar Martinovic. (R, 76 mins/85 mins/98 mins)
Following the huge success of the early gialli of Dario Argento after 1970's THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, the trailblazing Italian subgenre needed new ways to make the formula more appealing to audiences. Of course, the answer was to make them even more sensational by increasing the violence and sex at the expense of the craft and style that guys like Argento, Sergio Martino, and Mario Bava, whose 1964 classic BLOOD AND BLACK LACE was an early giallo prototype, brought to the more exemplary offerings. The giallo gets downright scuzzy by the time you get to 1975's STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER, but it was around 1971-72 that gialli began getting a little more daring with how much they were willing to show. Films like Martino's THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH and THE CASE OF THE SCORPION'S TAIL (both 1972), and YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY (1972), Giuliano Carnimeo's THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS (1971), and Luciano Ercoli's FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION (1970) and DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS (1971) invariably involve the rich and decadent artistic types (writers, photographers, models) basking in a world of privilege and luxury in gorgeous villas as a body count rises because of some past event obscured in a byzantine plot. Silvio Amadio's 1972 giallo ALLA RICERCA DEL PIACERE--translated: IN SEARCH OF PLEASURE--is one of the more flagrantly lewd contributions to the genre. It took six years to find a US distributor, when exploitation outfit Group 1 acquired it and released it under the catchy moniker AMUCK! in the summer of 1978. Group 1 was a prolific supplier of drive-in favorites throughout the mid-to-late 1970s like THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION (1975), NAZI LOVE CAMP 27 (1977), Lucio Fulci's THE PSYCHIC (1977), and PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR (1979). The company's biggest successes were ALLIGATOR (1980) and THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982), which was one of the major sleeper hits of its year. SWORD was so successful that Group 1 honcho Brandon Chase cashed out while he was ahead and closed down the company, taking the money he made from distributing grindhouse trash and forming the hugely-successful watch company Chase-Durer.
DR. TARR'S TORTURE DUNGEON (1973, acquired by Group 1 in 1976) and MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE (1977). As late as 1982, AMUCK! was still being shown at American drive-ins on the bottom half of a double bill with a re-released ALLIGATOR. And when Chase felt AMUCK! was getting too much exposure, he'd simply slap a new title on it and send it out again. The 98-minute AMUCK! was also released in an 85-minute version called MANIAC MANSION, and it played some areas in an even more-condensed 76-minute cut meaninglessly titled LEATHER AND WHIPS (meanwhile, AMUCK!'s UK distributor opted to christen it HOT BED OF SEX). It's doubtful that people were upset about seeing the film again and again, considering that Eurocult goddesses Barbara Bouchet (DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING) and Rosalba Neri (LADY FRANKENSTEIN) have an extended, slow-motion sex scene and spend a good chunk of the remainder of the film either completely nude or strutting around in skimpy lingerie or see-through gowns. Sure, there's a story and some people get killed and there's a mystery to solve, but with the rampant sleaze, the nudity, the Euro-lounge music (one song played to a striptease just has the singer repeatedly gasping "Sexually!"), the nudity, the dubbing, the nudity, the way the opening credits awkwardly cut from Bouchet on a gondola in scenic Venice to a plain AMUCK! title card, and the nudity, AMUCK! comes pretty close to perfectly encapsulating what this kind drive-in or Times Square grindhouse experience should be.
|Granger in a late 1940s publicity shot
|Granger in his later years
|Barbara Bouchet and Rosalba Neri in a pivotal scene
vital to the advancement of the plot of AMUCK!
SUPER STOOGES VS. THE WONDER WOMEN, available exclusively through them. Since it's a crapshoot whether Code Red's web site--or company founder Bill Olsen, for that matter--will be functional on any given day, the fine folks at DiabolikDVD have purchased bulk quantities of Code Red product directly from Olsen to sell on their own site, subject to availability.