Synopsis

A New Orleans housewife leaves her daughter and son home alone to meet her lover. While with him, she receives a call that her son has died. Wreckless driving rushing to her house results in a horrible accident. The lover dies and she is sent to a mental institution to recover from the psychological trauma. Upon her release a year later she moves into the boarding house where they would rendezvous. The landlord has passed away and her blind son is left to maintain the house. With every day that passes, his lust for her grows while she remains true to her lover. The situation comes to a "head" on a weekend visit with her daughter. All secrets will be revealed and no one will be the same. Inspired by actual events.

Director

Lamberto Bava

Cast

Bernice Stegers
as Jane Baker
Stanko Molnar
as Robert Duval
Veronica Zinny
as Lucy Baker
Roberto Posse
as Fred Kellerman
Fernando Pannullo
as Leslie Baker

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gavin6942 7 /10

The Finest Work of Lamberto Bava I've Seen Yet

Italian horror director Lamberto Bava's directorial debut, "Macabre" (sometimes called "Frozen Terror") is a tale of passionate obsession, murder, madness and some blind guy who fixes saxophones. A mother has a secret love, and the blind man slowly but surely stumbles upon it... which takes a bit longer when you're blind. And when he finds out who it is, things get a little creepy. Okay, a lot creepy.

This film has received some heavy criticism from horror historians Travis Crawford and Jim Harper, and for my review I'd like to address their concerns, as I believe they've made some crucial points.

Crawford is mostly praising in his words, calling this film "a humid hothouse hybrid of Tennessee Williams and Edgar Allan Poe", but questions Bava's ability to create his own work. He points to Bava's own words, giving credit to Pupi Avati, a more accomplished Italian director who co-wrote this film. Crawford says Avati "had a significant degree of input into the overall creation of the film", "shaped the stylistic approach" and even "dictated" the "restrained, subtle technique". With Avati also being the one to find the newspaper article on which the story is based, it seems as though this should be credited as his work, with Bava as more of an assistant or apprentice.

Crawford notes that it would be "cynical" to point out that Bava's best work came under the guidance of an accomplished director, or even to say that his other notable film -- the "Demons" series -- were supervised by Dario Argento. But cynical or not, and as much credit as Bava deserves, it's a fair statement to say that his collaborations are much stronger than his solo career. (With regards to "Demons", the style is certainly not like Argento's other work, so how much credit he deserves is debatable.) Harper is also critical. While highlighting this as "a complex and increasingly bizarre tale", he pins the style as reminiscent of Mario Bava, Lamberto's father. Like Crawford, he also notes that Bava's films went downhill after "Demons 2" (1986), when Bava went solo. Where I agree most with Harper is his labeling of the "unfortunate" ending as the "only truly sour note". I can't reveal what the ending is, but it doesn't fit the film at all and takes what would otherwise be a great film and lowers it to slightly better than average. A shame... perhaps it would have been best to cut the last few minutes entirely.

If you're looking for a mystery that paces itself and has a few very gory moments, "Macabre" is a worthy choice. While not on par with Argento's work, or Fulci's, it's a solid effort from Lamberto Bava and any Italian horror fan will like it. Others may be turned off by the slow pace, poor dubbing and inferior sound and picture quality (a staple of Italian film for some reason). Why won't more Italian films come with subtitles? Enjoyment of this film is a matter of taste. But the rich depth of these characters is a welcome change of pace from the splatter scene.

Reviewed by Jonny_Numb 5 /10

Mario Bava's son gives us (a) head...

You gotta admit, the idea is ingeniously twisted in its simplicity...

Jane (Bernice Stegers), an adulterous New Orleans housewife, is involved in a car crash that decapitates her lover. One year later, she is discharged from a mental hospital and returns to her lover's former residence, where she is lusted after by blind caretaker Robert (Stanko Molnar) and plagued by visits from her Greyhound-faced daughter Lucy (Veronica Zinny).

Questions arise: What is the explanation for those lustful, lovemaking noises coming from the upstairs apartment? Why is Jane so protective of her freezer? Will Robert ever get a chance to tap that action? Will Lucy ever shut the f*ck up? With strong location shooting in New Orleans and an accompanying jazzy score, you can practically feel the sweltering menace in the air.

True to its title, "Macabre" is generally restrained in tone, instead opting to create a very effective mood of overall bizarro. At its best, it has the feel of a polished anthology entry (such material would be right at home on "The Twilight Zone" or even "Masters of Horror"); at its worst, it feels overlong and silly. The third-act twist, while pretty predictable, works because the cast is so ravenously committed to the material. As a result, "Macabre" is a finely polished debut from Lamberto Bava (son of Mario), suspenseful and mysterious (in a supernatural kind of way), but just too overdrawn.

Reviewed by coldwaterpdh 7 /10

It's warm in New Orleans, let's head for the freezer.

For a debut film, "Macabre" is really impressive! After so much work with his father and with Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava really nailed down the horror genre with his first effort. The ending is so wicked. I'll never forget it! I also like the setting. In my opinion, it's hard to beat New Orleans for a horror movie setting. The city somehow just gives off the scary vibes. The acting is above par for Italian horror films of the early 80's, but it's still a little cheesy.

That having been said, "Macabre" moves excruciatingly slow in parts. I'm talking three minutes for one of the characters to open a door. It's tough to stay focused. But, if you can, the ending is pretty rad.

I've seen this for sale with another Lamberto Bava film, "A Blade in the Dark." I'd recommend getting it that way. I think it's actually cheaper than buying it solo like I did.

7 out of 10, kids.

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