Monday, 11 June 2007

The Devil's Honey/Il Miele Del Diavolo

Il miele del diavolo, 1986. Directed by Lucio Fulci. With Brett Halsey, Corine Clery, Blanca Marsillach, Stefano Madia.

Jessica (Blanca Marsillach) has a passionate relationship with Johnny (Stefano Madia). He pushes her to do more and more kinky things and although she often protest, she gives in every time...
Dr. Wendell Simpson (Brett Halsey), whose marriage is as good as over, likes to visit prostitutes and treats them with disrespect. When his wife Carol (Corinne Clery) learns of this, she wants a divorce.

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Johnny playing saxophone. In the reflexion on each side one of his lovers.

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Dr. Simpson, bland...

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...without emotion. (Much like the quality of the VHS copy I took these screenshots from, sorry for that.)

After being injured in a serious motor accident Johnny is hospitalized and Dr. Simpson performs the operation on him. But with Carol’s divorce plans on his mind, Simpson is unfocussed and Johnny dies. After this, Jessica is stricken by grief and starts to stalk and threaten Dr. Simpson, unintentionally ruining a change of reconciliation between him and his wife.

Then Jessica goes one step further and kidnaps Simpson. Holding him hostage in a seaside mansion, she threatens and sexually tortures him. But she also starts to remember more and more about her relationship with Johnny, and maybe not everything was as good as she thought...

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"Here's Johnny..."

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"Then I'll huff..."

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"...and I'll puff..."

In the first half of what many consider to be Fulci’s last good film, jealousy and sexual degradation play important roles in the lives of both couples. But where Johnny seems satisfied with his life, Dr. Simpson is obviously emotionally detached: when we see him first, in an effective scene, he’s standing still, expressionless, while an assistant takes off his operation-clothes. And later, an encounter with a prostitute isn’t a very joyous affair either.

The women in their lives also seem to be opposites in the same position. While one gets too much “love” and doesn’t protest, the other gets too little, i.e. none, and does protest. And the couples also keep affecting each other: Simpson “kills” Johnny; Jessica “kills” the Simpson-marriage.

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"How about lending the driver a hand?"

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She: "You don't love me!" He: "Yes I do."

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She: "I can't sleep." He: "I can...so go to the next room."

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An iconic image: arguing in the car.

And then, in the movies second part, Jessica and Simpson, the characters we’re left with, play their game of humiliation, degradation and extreme emotion together. It takes the sexual extremes Jessica inflicts on Simpson and his eagerness to submit, to somehow redeem both of them.

The cinematography by Allejandro Ulloa, who also shot Fulci’s One on top of the other (1969, Una Sull'Altra/Perversion Story) may not be very spectacular, but it somehow avoids the TV-movie feel of most Italian 80s outings. The same with the music: not good, but ok. Although some of the “erotic” scene’s in the movie’s first part are really corny, they seem to work much better in the last part. Another big plus is the well structured script and the good performances by the four leads. Blanca Marsillach is obvious the least effective, but Halsey and Clery are well matched. All-in-all a pretty good film, worth seeking out.

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Torture...

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...and sexual degradation.

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Lucio Fulci as a street vendor: "And cut!"

2 comments:

herman said...

Excellent review and great new blog. Have linked this.

N. Kuiper said...

...And so have I.
Thanks.