Trying to describe Amazon Prime’s ever more esoteric collection of foreign movies is like some kind of Mad Libs game; Paolo Cavara’s 1976 giallo features James Bond star Corinne Clery, veteran star Eli Wallach and Alien’s Tom Skerritt. The latter two are dubbed, of course, which is never promising, but Prime’s description of the film overdoes the intrigue; ‘Reminiscent of Eyes Wide Shut and told through ingenious flashbacks’ reads the blurb, so why not give Plot of Fear a spin?
To digress for a moment, that title isn’t great, although better than the other alternate title, Bloody Peanuts. One supposes Hitchock’s Family Plot from the same year had some influence, but Plot of Fear doesn’t conjure up images of anything in particular. Yet what a plot there is here; in some sense, it riffs on the domino-effect featured in Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood, where we’re not talking about one killer, but several, and the cops are struggling to work out who is doing who. The big clue comes in the form of pages from a real children’s book, Shockheaded Peter, which are left beside each victim.
One the trail is Milan cop Inspector Lomenzo (Michael Placido) who has a great hairstyle and moustache combo, and works for Tom Skerritt’s fantastically dressed cop-boss. He’s solving a series of murders which seem to be crystallising around a series of high-class sex-parties. This is where Prime are getting their Eyes Wide Shut comparison, and there is some merit in the comparison, which pays-off in a confrontation between the innocent and the guilty which resembles the Cruise/Pollack billiards scene in Kubrick’s masterpiece. Did I mention that a tiger features in the kink games going on at the villa? Or a very, very strange animated sequence that’s supposedly a film shown at an adult party but is pretty hard to justify in this context? No matter, Inspector Lomenzo is on the case…
Plot of Fear holds the attention with weird flourishes and a solid, complex mystery to solve. Cavara’s film stands on the edge of exposing institutional perversion, and certainly bears out the idea that Kubrick’s film was tapping into eternal corruptions. Violence and sex are largely kept off-screen, and while the dubbing is a little hard to take at times, Plot of Fear is worth cautiously recommended to giallo and mystery fans alike. Viewable at the link below….