Saturday, June 14, 2014

Honourable mention: Il Prato Macchiato Di Rosso

Let’s get something straight from the get go. There is no vampire in this Riccardo Ghione 1973 film, which was internationally called The Bloodstained Lawn. Certainly nothing supernatural goes on and the blood draining (which is there) is for profit. There is no suspicion of a vampire and so you might wonder why I am looking at this.

Sometimes a film uses tropes that are recognisable from the vampire genre and it is enough to see it as a take on the genre. I felt that this did, but it is entirely up for debate and I expect that many will disagree. The film is also very surreal – and I don’t just mean the flamboyant ties, tied as bowties, worn by Enzo Tarascio’s character Dr. Antonio Genovese.

checking the bottles
The film starts with two men carrying crates onto a ship. When they are on-board a man, credited only as UNESCO Agent (Nino Castelnuovo), picks up a crate and wanders off with it. He gets to his car and opens it up. Inside are wine bottles. He smashes the neck of one and pours the contents out, it contains blood. The blood, incidentally, is rather vivid red.

Claudio Biava as Alfiero 
A man drives his car, his name is Alfiero (Claudio Biava). We see him pick up a prostitute (Dominique Boschero) and then, with the prostitute gone from his car, we see him stop for a gypsy girl (Barbara Marzano). He goes to a wine sellers and asks for Genovese and is directed to a back room but he is looking for Nina (Marina Malfatti), his sister, rather than his brother-in-law Antonio. They leave the place, taking a drunk (Lucio Dalla) with them.

Max and his unnamed friend
Max (George Willing) and his unnamed companion (Daniela Caroli) are hippies who are hitching. Alferio gives them a lift. As they reach a town he suggests that, if they have nowhere to stay, they could stay at his sister’s home. He takes them there, through an electric security gate, and to a very posh home. In there are the gypsy, the prostitute and the drunk. Essentially what then goes on is that they are wined and dined for some time, but can’t help but feel that something nefarious is going on. Of course, it is.

drained bodies
Actually (beyond the occasional bout of foreboding) their sense of danger is right off: they take the rather camp looking robot as nothing more than a statue and they hardly blink when they see the gypsy tied naked on a bed and gagged – because she is epileptic. They find a skull in a garden oven and do not try to escape or make mention of it. They find the obvious hatred between Nina and her husband amusing. However they do eventually wake up to the danger enough to start searching through the house, and discover a walk-in freezer full of exsanguinated corpses with wounds on their necks.

blood draining robot
This forces them to face their fate – amply demonstrated on the prostitute when the robot uses a clawed appendage to pierce her neck and then suck out all her blood. The family are draining those who won’t be missed but it is not for sustenance in the standard vampiric sense. Rather they are smuggling it out of the country in wine bottles (apparently without refrigeration) and selling it on the black market in war zones. Nina married Antonio for his money (he also invented the robot) but has turned on him because she now makes enough money through the blood.

Marina Malfatti as Nina
Whilst it isn’t traditionally vampire we have the blood sucking, through the robot, the position of the wound, the need to drain for money (rather than sustenance), the fact that Nina is vampish in the wicked woman version of the word, the incestuous undertone between Alfiero and Nina and the mysterious man taking travellers to the mansion (rather than castle). It all felt like it owed a debt to the vampire genre. I got a vague feel of Hanno Cambiato Faccia though the earlier film is better than this as a film and more clearly vampiric.

Certainly of genre interest. The imdb page is here.

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