The titles of classic 1970’s giallo can be quite abstract, so it’s something of a relief when Luciano Ercoli’s Barcelona-set drama turns out to be about forbidden photos of a lady above suspicion. The lady in question is Minou, played by Dagmar Lassander, who is introduced planning to tell her industrialist husband Peter (Pier Paulo Cappoli) that she’s leaving him for another man; she sees this as a way of keeping him keen.
Before Minou can get this plan into action, she receives a warning that her husband is a murderer, and is guided to a cassette-recording of him ordering the death of a man using the decompression chamber essential to deep-sea divers as a weapon. That’s only the first piece of bait in an elaborate blackmail plot; but who is responsible? Does mutual friend and lover Dominique (Nieves Navarro) have anything to do with it?
The prolific Ernesto Gastaldi is the screenwriter here, and he weaves a story of unusual restraint for a giallo; violence and murder take a back seat to intrigue and suspense, and a conclusion that’s both surprising and inevitable in Mametian terms. There’s also an air of sexual expression that’s fairly wild; suburban women coyly invite each other over to watch projected slideshows of their latest nude photographs, while incidental pleasures include a wacky nightclub straight out of Austin Powers and a groovy lounge-core score from the great Ennio Morricone.
If some giallos seem a little nasty, Forbidden Photos is a good example of a non-exploitive one; there’s a touch of Breaking The Waves about the way the female protagonist links her own potential degradation to her husband’s fragile well-being. It’s a stylish, perverse entertainment, and looks great on this fresh transfer, currently streaming on the Arrow channel.
Cultural experts have informed me that the trailer below is NSFW, so watch at your own risk.