La Sanguisuge Conduce la Danza (The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance) (Alfredo Rizzo, 1975)
There are some movies that have been on my to-be-watched list for so long I not only no longer remember where I found out about them or why I put them there, I don’t even remember adding them in the first place. That list has moved house so many times I don’t have the faintest idea when most of the movies towards the beginning of it were added, but I know that La Sanguisuge Conduce la Danza was one of the first movies to hit it… so we’re talking about fifteen years, give or take, I’ve been staring this movie’s Amazon listing in the face without ever actually seeing it. Until yesterday. It recently popped up on Netflix Instant, and it’s one of the movies on my endless DVD queue, so as soon as I saw the little blue “Play” button I moved it over to the Instant queue and fired it up. I did notice, briefly, before I did that when I’d resorted the queue by average rating, as I do every couple of weeks, that this flick was the second-lowest movie on my Netflix Instant queue out of 351 entries (only Ian Merrick’s The Demon Within ranked lower). I should’ve listened.
First off, before you get to the actual movie, note that this [ed. note for clarification: the version currently (as I write this) streaming on Netflix Instant] is Redemption Video’s cut, and it includes an introductory video that I didn’t time, but I think lasted about ten minutes. I’m not sure you will ever spend ten longer minutes in your life, unless you find yourself in a Turkish prison. I know I should have just fast-forwarded through it, but I had this odd idea in my head that it was actually part of the movie, so I kept watching until the actual movie started, at which point I kicked myself for sitting through it. Don’t be this guy. Fast-forward until you see titles!
In any case, we then get to the actual film, which isn’t all that much better. (Spoiler alert: there are no bloodsuckers to be found in this movie. Hell, ain’t no dancin’, nuther.) Count Marnack (The Last Man on Earth‘s Giacomo Rossi-Stuart), a lonely feudal lord whose remote estate is now dirt-poor, has been attending a series of shows put on by a burlesque troupe. When the theater housing them closes down, instead of scattering them to the winds, he offers them his castle as a place to stay until they get a chance to find new digs because Sybil (Salon Kitty‘s Patrizia Webley), the head of the troupe, is a dead ringer for the Count’s wife who, he tells her once they’re on the island, packed up and left him some years ago. Eventually, after all sorts of dallying, we come to something resembling a plot: seems the Count’s grandfather and father both went crazy, beheaded their wives with an ornamental dagger, then killed themselves by leaping into the sea. Soon, members of the troupe begin turning up beheaded…
I’ll put it this way: I watched this movie less than twenty-four hours ago as I write this, and the climax left so little impression on me I can’t even remember who the killer was. It’s a tiresome, badly-done attempt at giallo that fails on pretty much every level (even including gratuitous nudity, of which Rizzo seems to have thrown in a token amount and then decided to abandon). If the movie is notable for anything these days, it is that it marks the final onscreen appearance of Krista Nell, who died of leukemia shortly after the film was completed at the tender age of twenty-eight. (Nell, who played a bit part in Godard’s Pierrot le Fou, is probably best remembered for The Red Headed Corpse, made three years before this.) She had originally been cast as the female lead, Marnack’s nosy housekeeper, but switched to a supporting role because the leukemia was advancing at a rapid rate; the role was filled by Femi Benussi, from Pasolini’s The Hawks and the Sparrows. Not that this is nearly enough reason to watch the movie, unless you’re a big fan of one of the principals, but it’s interesting. *
Trailer at IMDB.