Directed by Paolo Cavara [Other horror films: Mondo cane (1962), E tanta paura (1976)]
Giallo is one of those genres that I enjoy in small doses, and as such, there are still many quite well-known gialli that I’ve not yet seen. La tarantola dal ventre nero, better known as Black Belly of the Tarantula, is one such film, and I have to admit that, while it was decent, I was expecting a little more.
In part, I think this has to do with the lack of characterization some individuals get, not to mention a lack of as many suspects as one might hope for. There’s also elements that I don’t think are fully explained (what the link was between Giancarlo Prete’s character and Ezio Marano’s character, for instance), and the whole finale, while okay, was just that – okay, and largely unspectacular.
Admittedly this came as a surprise, as I have heard this is one of the more popular gialli out there, and perhaps one of the better ones not done by Mario Bava, Sergino Martino, Lucio Fulci, or Dario Argento. It’s a perfectly fine mystery, and the kills are decent, but even as a fan of these movies, I do feel that large portions were somewhat sluggish, and not getting the hang of the whole picture (at least as clearly as other films do, such as Deep Red) just made it feel weaker.
As far as the cast goes, the only ones who really stand out are Ezio Marano, Eugene Walter, and Giancarlo Giannini. I don’t think we really get that much information on Marano’s character, but he does well with the role. Eugene Walter had almost no relevance whatsoever to the plot, but his character appeared a few times, and he amused me. Giannini (who would pop up 30 years later as the Italian cop going after Lecter in Hannibal) was pretty solid as the lead, which is good, because otherwise, we wouldn’t have had much.
I’m always the type to enjoy mysteries mixed up with my murder, which is why giallo films appeal to me. They’re not always great (such as Mario Bava’s Five Dolls for an August Moon), but sometimes they can be quite good (Don’t Torture a Duckling and the aforementioned Deep Red). Black Belly of the Tarantula is an okay movie. It’s certainly not bad, even if it does perhaps drag a little. But there’s not enough here for me to think of the movie as necessarily good, and while I’ve wanted to see it for some time now, I can admit that it doesn’t do as much for me as I’d have hoped.
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