Wednesday, April 4, 2012

88. DEATH LAID AN EGG (LA MORTE HA FATTO L'UOVO, 1968)

Somewhere between Mario Bava's temporary abdication from the giallo to embrace pop and op cinema, and Dario Argento's arrival on the crime scene, Giulio Questi made this truly aberrant yet fascinating thriller set in, of all places, an automated henhouse.

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Ewa Aulin, fresh from Tinto Brass' DEADLY SWEET (COL CUORE IN GOLA, 1967), join Gina Lollobrigida for a bizarre romantic triangle: Anna (Lollobrigida) rules the high-tech roost in albumen-colored suits while spineless, brooding husband Marco (Trintignant) woos secretary Gabrielle (Aulin) on the side, and further asserts his manhood by reserving a room in a highway motel where he dons leather gloves and stabs and slices a procession of prostitutes to death. When Anna and her resident chemist succeed in producing a species of meatier, headless, digestible-boned chickens -- shades of Chicken McNuggets! -- a repulsed Marco slaughters the monstrosities and gets a stern dressing-down from The Association, a faceless corporate autonomy who, in effect, own Anna and are hellbent on making chickens the most important element in the national diet and consciousness. Marco attempts to run away with Gabrielle, not realizing that she is leading her own double life as well.

Made in a deliberately abrasive way, with aggressively abstract and mobile framings grating against brittle music by Bruno Maderna, and arhythmical ADS cutting and the occasional bizarre non sequitur cutaway, DEATH LAID AN EGG is fairly singular in Italian cinema -- years ahead of its time as a giallo, and still comparatively unique as an example of Italian surrealist filmmaking.

Viewed on DVD-R.  

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