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June 4, 2012

Movie Review: Plot of Fear (1976)

Raro Video has unearthed yet another giallo unreleased in the United States from the director of the excellent Black Belly of the Tarantula, Paolo Cavara. Cavara’s 1976 thriller Plot of Fear boasts a cast of some fine Euro cult regulars such as John Steiner(Tenebre, Shock)  and even successful American actors like Tom Skerritt(Picket Fences) and Eli Wallach (The Good The Bad and The Ugly), so from an outsiders viewpoint it has to be somewhat decent.

Michele Placido plays Inspector Gaspare Lomenzo, a policeman investigating a series of violent murders that seem to be baffling the authorities. This particular killer also seems to get a kick out of leaving pictures on each victim from a story book.  Red herrings are sprinkled throughout, mainly that of some very horny, cartoon porn-loving guests at a really perverse party. This particular bash gets out of hand and a young woman is accidentally killed. It doesn't sop there,  even Wallach’s character Pietro Riccio is under the suspicion of investigators.

Plot of Fear starts off as perfectly as any a true giallo should, by opening with two vicious murders - one by strangulation via a giant tranny and another nasty number by wrench on a bus courtesy of a shadowed assailant. As the film goes on, the bodies pile up.

In a lot of ways it feels like early Argento, like the Animal Trilogy (Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Bird with Crystal Plumage and Cat O’ Nine Tails). One notable difference to the maestro is the humor, something Dario has always struggled with.  This helps make the characters genuinely likable without disappearing into the background. I did like Placido. Even with the talented cast surrounding him, Placido, without a doubt, carries Plot of Fear.

Raro Video has provided a few extra features to go along the feature in the form of a couple interviews spotlighting Cavara and Enrico Oldonin, as well a very nice critical piece from Fangoria editor, Chris Alexander (in PDF format). While a bit convoluted, Plot of Fear is still a lot of fun and without a doubt an above average giallo. Recommended.

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