Lamberto Bava’s feature debut was the grisly, sick & twisted necrophilia-filled “Macabre”

By on October 9, 2019

We’re still so excited about the first ten cult horror titles we recently added to Night Flight Plus — you’ll find them on in our “Horror Month: Gothic & Erotic Thrillers” section — that we’re going to tell you about one more, Lamberto Bava‘s grisly, sick & twisted necrophilia-filled Macabre (Macabro, 1980).

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This very Hitchcockian film — also known as Frozen Terror — was the acclaimed debut feature from Italian horror master Lamberto Bava (son of horror maestro Mario Bava), who later directed such classic shockers as the great giallo A Blade in the Dark (1983), Demons ( Dèmoni, 1985) and its sequel, Demons 2 (1986), a.k.a. Demons 2: The Nightmare Returns.

Macabre takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana, and it features an opening sequence (including a creepy cemetery) shot mostly — by Director of Photography Franco Delli Colli — in Crespi d’Adda, an industrial village near Bergamo, built in the last quarter of the 19th Century.

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The twisted fucked-up plot here concerns a disturbed unhappily-married 40-ish woman named “Jane Baker” (Liverpool, England-born actress Bernice Stegers, fresh off her appearance in Fellini‘s City of Women).

She’s having an affair with a man who lives on the other side of town named “Fred Kellerman” (Roberto Posse).

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Jane’s daughter, the malevolent “Lucy” (thirteen year old Veronica Zinny), is left at home with the responsibility of taking care of her brother “Michael” while Mom’s out fucking someone who isn’t Dad (Fernando Pannullo).

She finds out about her mother’s affair and decides to punish her mother by drowning her younger sibling in the bathtub.

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Lucy then calls up Mom and tells her to come home as soon as possible because there’s been a horrible “accident.”

Jane and Fred are frantically driving back to the Baker’s home across town when they’re involved in a horrible car accident which leaves Fred dead, a bloody decapitated mess.

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A year passes, and Jane spends the time recuperating in a mental asylum before she’s released.

Jane, estranged from her husband, moves into Fred’s old apartment in the two-story suburban Italian villa where they used to have their sexual trysts.

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The apartment is still owned by a blind young man named “Robert Duval” (Croatian actor Stanko Molnar, who beat out Italian director/actor Michele Soavi for the role) who lives there with his elderly mother, “Sally Duval” (Elisa Kadigia Bove).

Robert is pretty much in love with Jane, but it’s really too bad he can’t see her in her sexy negligee or splashing around in the tub.

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Then, but when he’s in her apartment he hears weird noises that sound like Jane’s having sex, so decides to investigate, discovering that Jane has kept something of Fred’s left behind, and she’s using it as an object of erotic sexual fetish.

Read more about Lamberto Bava’s Macabre below.

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Lamberto Bava — born in Rome, Italy on April 3, 1944 — had co-directed his father’s Italian TV film, La Venere d’Ille ( The Venus of the Island), and assistant directed Planet of the Vampires; he also worked on Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1966), Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971) and Shock (1977).

He’d contributed to the story for Italian director Ruggero Deodato’s films Ultimo mondo cannibale (1977) and Cannibal Holocaust (1979).

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In the summer of ’79, 35-year old Bava was summoned to the office of the Avati brothers, film producers Pupi and Antonio, who wanted him to direct his first feature film.

They even had an idea for it, showing him an American newspaper clipping they’d saved about a woman who’d kept a keepsake of her dead lover’s.

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Within a week, Bava, Pupi and Antonio Avati, and Roberto Gandus had written a 15-page film treatment.

The story — chock-full of good ol’ cinematic stuff like child murder and child murderers, necrophilia, madness, middle-aged lady nudity and a blind dude groping around in the dark — hinged upon the idea that the audience would be just as blind as poor Robert about what was going on.

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While the Avatis worked on securing film financing, Bava went back to work in America on Dario Argento‘s Inferno.

Six weeks later, in November of 1979, he was back in Italy, and now that financing was in place, he was about to shoot his first feature film.

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A screenplay had to be written first — that took another week and a half — but when Lamberto showed it to his father the legendary director refused to read it.

He did see a rough cut of the film, however, in late January of 1980, before dying after suffering a heart attack on April 25, 1980, in Rome, at age sixty-five.

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Macabre‘s production took another four weeks, the New Orleans exteriors being shot in just four days.

Most of the film was shot in Northern Italy, namely the Cardone Riviera, near Salò, on the Lake Garda, in the villa once owned by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s lover Clearetta Petacci.

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The film’s score — by Ubaldo Cotiniello — features a lot of sax-soaked sex jazz that fits right in with the New Orleans setting.

In Italy, the film’s tagline proclaimed Macabre was“Il film che ha terrorizzato anche Dario Argento” (“the film which frightened even Dario Argento”).

Macabre — a “horrific tale of murder, madness and perverse passion” — was released on DVD/Blu-ray by Blue Underground in 2007.

Watch Macabre and nine other cult horror titles in our first batch, which you’ll find in our “Horror Month: Gothic & Erotic Thrillers” section, and keep an eye out for ten additional titles for our next batch, “Horror Month: Cannibals, Vampires & Psycho Killers,” which were adding on Friday night to Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.