Virginity (1976)

Also known as PURE AS A LILY, VIRGINITY is about a successful London restauranter Anthony M. Wilson (Vittorio Gassman), an Italian immigrant who moved to England from Sicily leaving behind his Italian name Antonio Mantuso after his father had seemingly abandoned he and his mother.  Life seems to have turned out pretty good for Tony; he owns several restaurants in London and has a knockout of a lover Vanessa (Madeline Heinde)…even though she is engaged to be married to another man.  His uncle is Don Gerlando current head of the family in Palermo and is sending a relative to London and entrusts Anthony to look after her.  It is his cousin (so many times removed) Lucia (Ornella Muti) and he is to ensure for her well being and protect her dignity by making sure she maintains her virginity.

This light sex comedy is a British and Italian co-production and includes a good bit of the dry wit and fish out of water that one can expect from a BBC comedy.  It also plays up it’s Italian pedigree as the upper middle class protagonist is caught up with his powerful family and the way his life appears to be a satire of manners as he tries to fully embody the English ideal.  The young Lucia is a free-spirited teenager who proves to be a handful for the stodgy businessman and he keeps doing his best to curtail her flights of fancy.  He even hires a private detective to follow her around.  As this adventure with the girl continues, he finds more and more strands of his family’s mafioso lifestyle creeping into his own.  He finds out that the sultry young lass is after him and he ends up marrying her.  She begins to run his restaurants while he is de facto owner, Anthony prefers to spend his time at leisure.  This is well enough because now the family has a good entry point and cover for whatever they may decide to export to England.

VIRGINITY is a fish out of water tale, that British and Italian comedy styles lend themselves to, about an immigrant who has not quite fit in despite years of effort.  Gassman does quite well in this role and Muti is fantastic as the dry witted Lucia.  Alas, this is a role where she remains securely clothed but no less alluring to be sure.  Antonio’s family is also a hoot when we see how they interact back in Sicily.  The locations and settings used all look great and the mid 1970s London is always a welcome site.

The Code Red DVD is pretty bare bones with a forced trailer for FAMILY HONOR which leads straight into the feature.  There is no menu.  The picture quality is excellent and sound is good as well.  Fans of light comedy will enjoy VIRGINITY and it makes a good partner to THE FACE WITH TWO LEFT FEET for an Italo-comedy movie night.  Not everyone’s cup of tea but another acceptable entry int the Code Red catalog.  The DVD is Region 1 and is available at Code Red’s Big Cartel webshop.

Corruption (1968)

Sir Peter Cushing would have been 100 years old this year and to celebrate the event Grindhouse Releasing presents the sleaze fest CORRUPTION aka CARNAGE in a fully restored and deluxe Blu-Ray/DVD special Edition.  The two disc set will be available October 8th. 

Sir John Rowan (Peter Cushing) is an extremely talented and renowned surgeon.  He is also a very jealous man.  He is engaged to gorgeous red haired fashion model Lynn (Sue Lloyd) whom he meets at a swinger’s party where she is doing a shoot.  He quickly becomes uncomfortable with her work as it seems to be moving towards a nude shoot and gets in a fight with the photographer that leaves Lynn disfigured when an arc light falls on her.  His devotion to his fianceé is tested by her devastation and he tries a unique and experimental procedure to restore her beauty.  He uses a combination of laser and a balm made from the pituitary gland of young females.  The first gland he uses is from a corpse in the morgue but it doesn’t work as well as it needs to and Lynn pushes him to find a better treatment.

Needless to say the film draws a bit of inspiration from EYES WITHOUT A FACE and THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF in the theme that a doctor kills young women in order to restore the beauty of someone he loves.  Instead of a daughter it is John’s bride-to-be.  He reluctantly sets to the task and goes to the home of a prostitute.  She strips down expecting him to do the same only to find him wearing a jacket and surgical gloves.  She thinks he is leaving and not going to pay her but she is a little off in her assessment because he is there for her head.  In a drawn out brawl he stabs the nude girl in the stomach and then begins to cut off her head.  Keep in mind this is the International presentation of the film.  The set also includes the US/UK version which includes a much tamer and clothed murder. 

Each treatment seems to be only temporary and the good doctor has to figure out more ways to entrap young girls.  Lynn is consistently becoming more and more unhinged and though reluctant at first, Sir John is a slavering enraged maniac when he does spring into action.  We’re talking Frank Zito levels of nuttiness here.  It all leads up to a bizarro scuff up with a gang of mods, John and Lynn, and a couple of their friends… It is such a weird orgy of violence full of fire and lasers it is something you have to check out.  The denouement is a real headscratcher leaving the viewer wondering if Sir John was truly mad or at least has the tendency within him.  

CORRUPTION is also known as CARNAGE, both of which are fitting titles.  Peter Cushing gives an over-the-top sweaty, grimacing and maniacal performance and Sue Lloyd is equally unsettling as Lynn.  The mods that showed up at the end are a hoot especially the disturbing performance of David Lodge as Groper.  Doctor Who fans will recognize Val as Kate O’Mara who played The Rani in the serial Time and The Rani.  

The picture and sound quality are excellent and both versions look great.  The film can be viewed in the original US/UK cut or the “International” version with more nudity and blood.  Audio Commentary by Jonathan Rigby and David Miller.  Alternate scenes, interviews with: Billy Murray, Jan Waters, Wendy Varnals, and Peter Cushing (audio).  There are Trailers, still galleries, Hartford-Davis Filmography and the director’s shooting script.  There are a plethora of Grindhouse Releasing trailers with AN AMERICAN HIPPIE IN ISRAEL, THE BIG GUNDOWN, THE SWIMMER, MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE, GONE WITH THE POPE, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, DEATH GAME, FAMILY ENFORCER, ICE HOUSE, POOR WHITE TRASH 2, CAT IN THE BRAIN, THE BEYOND, CANNIBAL FEROX, THE TOUGH ONES, PIECES, and I DRINK YOUR BLOOD.