Italian TV movies are not like American TV movies. They contain nudity, gore, violence, cursing, really everything that you would want from a good theater going experience, but in the comfort of your own home. Several icons of horror have crafted Italian TV movies over the years to mixed results.
Enter Lamberto Bava.
Shortly after he struck gold with Demoni and Demoni 2, he was approached to make 5 made-for-TV films in a collection called Brivido Giallo. Only four were ever made. One of them was 1988’s Until Death, based on an unused script from horror maestro Lucio Fulci and originally intended as a sequel to The Postman Always Rings Twice!
Can a TV horror film hold up to the standards set by Lamberto’s previous films? How will Lucio Fulci’s script be handled when filmed by another director?
Being a big fan of Baby Bava, I had high expectations for this movie. It’s an intriguing premise, even if it is a bit standard and cliche. Linda and Carlo are lovers who kill Linda’s husband and hide his body. She gives birth to her husband’s baby and eight years later, the three of them are running some kind of hotel near the lake. A mysterious stranger, resembling Dean Winchester’s and Ryan Philippe’s illegitimate love child, shows up and threatens to blow the whole thing wide open.
Meanwhile, the son has nightmares about his father coming back from the dead, of which he wasn’t even born when his father was murdered. I doubt Linda and Carlo sat him down for his 8th birthday and said, “hey, son, wish your dad was here to celebrate, but Carlo beat him over the head and killed him when you were a wee peanut in your mama’s womb.”
Italian Ryan Winchester/Dean Philippe knows a little bit more than he should, dropping hints towards the couple, and instilling paranoia and fear into their quiet little guilt free life.
Who is this guy? Why does he quote the inside of Linda’s wedding ring? Why does he cook fettucine just like her ex-husband? Do we care?
Really more of a thriller or mystery film, hence the name of the series, Brivido Giallo, I was disappointed by the lack of violence and gore. It’s hard to tell if it was written this way or if it was simply due to the nature of a TV film and its lack of budget. Either way, I have a hard time seeing this as a Lucio Fulci film.
From a style perspective, the film is beautiful. I love the blue hues that permeate the picture. Entire scenes are bathed in deep blues and shadows, leading you to truly feel the color through the screen. There’s even a beautiful scene where the screen is flooded in blue, only for Carlo to hold a flashlight exuding a red light, while carrying a bright green fruit of some kind. It’s a wonderful color contrast. There’s also a deep red filter used and I am sure that if I cared a little bit more, I could figure out the significance of the two uses of color. But I don’t.
Overall, the film isn’t very good. There’s no real love or romance between Carlo and Linda. He’s kind of a douche and she’s way out of his league. And her husband was an old balding man! She is way too hot for either of these boneheads. She’s very much an Italian Kirsty Cotton.
It’s a basic story that Baby Bava tried to spice up with his stylistic approach to colors and shadows, but it just isn’t enough. It isn’t scary. It isn’t cheesy. It’s slow paced. The re-watch factor is low. And I wouldn’t recommend it even to fans of Lamberto’s. Many of the twists are easily spotted and the ending is just nonsense. The payoff just simply isn’t worth the runtime.
3/10 Stab wounds