Lando Buzzanca plays Senator Puppis, a telegenic young politician on track to become Italy’s next president. He’s been groomed for the part practically from birth by the Vatican, which plans to re-exert social control over the country through its presidential puppet. But plans go badly awry as Puppis suddenly develops an uncontrollable urge to fondle women’s buttocks (Stephen Thrower has aptly described the character as a “repressed heterosexual”). Even as he seeks help for his condition, various parties around him begin to panic, as the police think Puppis is planning a coup without telling them, the military think they are being left out of the loop by the police, and the Vatican, along with its Mafia catspaws, starts whacking everyone in sight in a desperate attempt to keep everything from completely unravelling.
How’s that for a sex comedy plot? Not exactly of the been-there-done-that variety, is it now? Behind the nonsensical UK release title is one of the most interesting Lucio Fulci films to reach these shores. Fans wanting the Fulci gore will have to look elsewhere, but those open to something new will encounter a level of filmmaking absent in too much of his later work. The sex gags are rather dated (though the moment of the Puppi’s first goose is a bit of wonderful deftness I’ve never seen in Fulci), but the black political satire, which makes up the bulk of the film, while being very tied to the specific Italian context, has lost none of its bite. This is an angry film, one that builds to an utterly appalling resolution, all the more sour for its comic framing. Without going so far as to compare Fulci’s filmmaking skills to Kubrick’s, one might think of this film as Fulci’s Dr. Strangelove – a bitter, hopeless indictment that can only fully express its venom in the form of farce.
Only the Italian mono is present, which is as it should be. Some international cast members notwithstanding, seeing this dubbed into English would have killed most of the comedy. The sound is clear and clean, with no hiss. The post-synchronization is apparent, but not distracting.
The print is in generally in very fine shape, with no damage or blemishes. Some scenes are grainier than others, but these are also in a distinct minority. The black-and-white tones of the television sequences are excellent. The colours are rather inconsistent, and here is where the age of the print is most apparent. There are some rather pale shots, others tinted pink. Most of the time, though, the colours look good.
One feature, but it’s a good one. “A History of Censorship” is a 42-minute feature with Buzzanca, cinematographer Sergio D’Offizi and long-time Fulci collaborator and make-up artits Gianetto De Rossi discussing the film at length.
As different a Fulci film as I have seen, and a strikingly heart-felt (and furious) one. Not to be missed.