Ostensibly a derivative giallo, Rivelazioni earned a bit of infamy when it was chopped down and recut with porn footage for a secondary U.S. release, using footage of Harry Reems and Tina Russell, and released under the title Penetration, with poor Farley Granger's name still retained in the credits because bits of his performance were used for a reconstituted storyline.
In the original Italian version, Granger played a city detective being bounced around by his superiors who want the case details of murdered adulterous wives of prominent officials hushed before a hungry media can spill any further details, and damage what's left of the mens' careers.
It's hard to tell whether director/co-writer Roberto Bianchi Montero is paying homage to the genre's iconic elements (the killer's wardrobe of black gloves/coat/hat/stocking mask is identical to Bava's murdered in Blood and Black Lace) or just larding his scenario with popular conventions (a procedural investigation, a high bodycount, perverted behaviour, and guilt-ridden characters) out of laziness, since Montero's direction is so completely workmanlike.
Whether it's a 1.66:1 version broadcast on Italian TV or a Japanese laserdisc edition matted to 1.85:1, the compositions are bland and largely unmemorable. The interior lighting is harsh, and, and the visuals blossom with colour only when Montero trains his camera on nude bodies, which perhaps isn't surprising, since he directed a number of mondo nudie documentaries, and his final work flipped between B-movies and erotica. (Coincidentally, Montero's son, Mario Bianchi, evolved as an assistant director on a few Bava gialli before trying his hand at whatever was in vogue during the early seventies, and eventually settled into porn.)
The murders are badly conceived and show little personal style, and Montero's best effort to erotocize a killing is to film a beach slashing in slo-mo, which merely reveals his limitations or virtual disinterest in conceiving any kind of kinetic montage. The beach killing has bad day-for-night photography, and the slo-mo reinforces the dreadful acting by a largely bland cast.
Equally problematic is the outright amateurish use of score. Montero tracks Giorgio Gaslini's exquisite title music ad nauseum over whole scenes whose dramatic needs aren't supported by the cue's pervasive melancholic design, and Gaslini's ‘killing theme' is often applied as generic underscore, with maybe three or four genuinely distinct variations barely heard in the final mix. A film score is only as successful as the discourse between composer and director, and when the director is a facile hack, the results stink.
On the plus side, Granger plays his part with concentrated severity, and Susan Scott delivers a straightforward performance as a bitch who screws her married neighbour while her invalid husband hobbles around the bedroom, but Scott's character is also symbolic of the film's narrow view that women are untrustworthy creatures who deserve to die when they philander – even if their adultery stems from a rotten husband.
Misogyny isn't new to the giallo – the most celebrated deaths are usually allotted to beautiful women – but Montero's film presents women as vacuous and duplicitous, and bereft of any personality. The film's moral stance is virtually prehistoric in that adulterous men can remain noble fathers, affectionate husbands, and remain anchors of power in their community, but women are deservedly branded whores and aren't just killed for their transgressions, but cut in specific areas reflective of their femininity and sexual allure – a slash to the breast, a slice across the neck, and cuts below the belt, all of which Montero shows, namely in post-mortem poses, with nude cadavers sprawled across the screen, beavers and all.
Whether alive or dead, Montero also constructs scenes to show naked torsos, which reaches laughable levels in a coroner's examination room – his loopy assistant (character actor Luciano Rossi) massages dead boobies – and in a health spa where wives of elite men discuss their fears of being victimized while hands massage their bodies, and Montero angles his camera to expose a few nether regions.
All of the above has been seen before and exploited in varying degrees; even Bava's Blood and Black Lace more or less has (clothed) pretty models brutalized and killed. Where Rivelazioni achieves its infamy of sorts is in the final scene, where the killer is confronted by the detective.
[FINALE SPOILER BELOW ]
The detective is confident his wife (Sylva Koscina) is completely safe from the killer because of her fidelity until the killer calls him and brands her a whore. The detective then finds clues which take him to a lonely roadside shack where he finds her waiting for her lover. Standing by the front window, the detective arrives just as the killer is about to begin slashing his wife, but overcome by seething revulsion towards her infidelity, he lets her be killed.
When he mentally flips back to reality, the detective enters the shack and kills the murderer. Montero ends the film with the detective going through the motions of calling his superior and alerting him of the killing, but the detective is rather ambiguous about possessing any guilt in having allowed a second party mete out his own moral judgment.
Granger's performance seems to suggest the detective's rage is almost justified because the killer's calling card – scattering photos of the illicit lovers around the body – don't seem to evoke much inner turmoil or furious guilt. And as Montero's script has shown, the death details of a prominent ‘whore' is something the investigative police machine will deny to the media, inferring the detective, as part of a low-level elite, has now earned the support of his career peers, and will suffer less humiliation than a working class Joe whose two-timing wife was killed by a an avenging sicko.
Some gialli are incoherent yet remain notorious for audacious twists or killings (Pupi Avati's House of Laughing Windows, for example, is a somewhat impenetrable shocker with a bizarre revelation and ambiguous final shot), but Rivelazioni, a completely derivative production, at least possesses a fairly straightforward scenario. The reasons this film endures is its bent morality, but badly executed films with controversial elements tend to linger, and that's probably why Rivelazioni will continue maintain interest among giallo fans.
© 2008 Mark R. Hasan