HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
   
 
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
   
 
  Unnaturals, The They've been expecting youBuy this film here.
Year: 1969
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Stars: Joachim Fuchsberger, Marianne Koch, Helga Anders, Claudio Camaso, Dominique Boschero, Luciano Pigozzi, Mariane Leibl, Giuliano Raffaelli, Marco Morelli, Gudrun Schmidt-May
Genre: Horror
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: On a dark and stormy night somewhere in England in the 1920s a group of party-loving rich folks are stranded when their car breaks down near a spooky old abandoned mansion. Ben Taylor (Joachim Fuchsberger), his closeted lesbian wife Vivian (Marianne Koch), her lust object Margaret (Dominique Boschero), the latter's lover Alfred Sinclair (Claudio Camaso) and egotistical aristocrat Archibald Barrett (Giuliano Raffaelli) venture inside where they discover creepy caretaker Uriat (bug-eyed Euro-horror staple Luciano Pigozzi) and his mother (Mariane Leibl), a spiritual medium who is in a trance. Claiming these guests were expected, Uriat invites them to join a séance that will reveal the truth behind a terrible crime in which they were all involved.

The late Antonio Margheriti was more capable at handling multiple genres than his contemporaries Mario Bava or Lucio Fulci but does not command the same fervent fan-base. Perhaps because unlike those two he never crafted a distinctive identity as an auteur. Nonetheless Margheriti himself rated Contronatura, a horror film he wrote and directed, as his finest work. Carlo Savina's classy score conjures a jazzy variation on Hammer horror but while the plot takes a supernatural turn there no ghosts, witches or even masked murderers here. Instead of garish gothic thrills The Unnaturals deals in subdued psychological terror laced with social satire.

Few Italian horror films revolve around innocent victims. In most cases the haunted are guilty of something. Here flashbacks fill in the blanks for each character, detailing their past sins. We learn Alfred abandoned his wife Diana (Gudrun Schmidt-May) for a fling with his boss' mistress Margaret, Vivian lusted after the lovely, doe-eyed Elizabeth (Helga Anders) with fatal results while Archibald tricked a trusted friend into believing he was guilty of murder. Halfway between an Amicus horror anthology and an arty, disorienting murder mystery, Margheriti's unusually structured story is an eerie exercise in suspense. It roots its horror in the protagonists' own guilt and anxieties, be they greed, infidelity or repressed sexual urges. This being an Italian production from the Sixties the script has scant sympathy for its lesbian character and no problem lumping her in with the other 'unnaturals' although Marianne Koch, who played a notable supporting role in Sergio Leone's seminal spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars (1964), invests Vivian with some sensitivity. What is more Margheriti stages the mild lesbian love scenes (one intercut with a sinister fox hunt across the English countryside) for tasteful eroticism, closer to D.H. Lawrence than, say, Jess Franco.

With embittered, vengeful working class characters exposing the torrid secrets of devious toffs the script exhibits a mild social agenda yet displays some flawed logic. The most guilt-ridden character suffers the ghastliest demise while the most blatantly self-serving and evil gets one last shot at revenge. A lack of any sympathetic characters renders the story a bit cold but Margheriti keeps thing compelling throughout, masterfully mounting suspense with his prowling camera while milking the spooky atmosphere of the haunted house, with its dark empty spaces and creepy stuffed animals, for all it is worth. Though it seems to be heading towards the kind of twist ending indebted to Ealing Films' seminal Dead of Night the plot scores points for not recycling the same punchline that graced every Amicus horror anthology of the Seventies and lingered well into the twenty-first century with The Others (2001). Instead the spectacular denouement showcases Margheriti's celebrated skill with miniature effects. Contranatura is perhaps less fun than his other kitschier comic book horrors - e.g. Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye (1973), The Virgin of Nuremberg (1963), The Long Hair of Death (1964) - but more substantial.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2314 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Antonio Margheriti  (1930 - 2002)

Italian writer and director who worked in a variety of genres throughout his career, although largely horror, science fiction and western. Some of his films include Castle of Blood, The Wild, Wild Planet, The Long Hair of Death, Take a Hard Ride, Killer Fish, Cannibal Apocalypse and Yor, Hunter from the Future.

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: