A steamy, stylish giallo, Amuck! ranks among the sexiest entries in a pretty sexy genre. Doe-eyed, golden girl Greta (Euro-goddess Barbara Bouchet) arrives at an isolated Venetian villa to work as a secretary for hunky, but diffident writer Richard Stuart (Farley Granger, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train) and his slinky wife, Eleanora (Rosalba Neri). Once Eleanora spies gorgeous Greta in a flimsy, baby-doll nightie, she swiftly seduces her for a slow-mo tumble between the sheets that has become the stuff of exploitation legend (No less a connoisseur than Quentin Tarantino rates it his favourite scene ever). Greta becomes the Stuart’s plaything, but she’s really here to investigate the disappearance of Richard’s first assistant, Sally (Patrizia Viotti) – whom, it transpires, was her lesbian lover. Amidst an orgy, while perverse party guests fondle her fervently, Greta catches a stag reel featuring a fleeting glimpse of Sally, which Richard abruptly shuts off. Teaming up with a police inspector (Nino Segurini), she discovers Richard is a pawn in his wife’s sadistic games. Greta’s suspicions fall on Rocco (Petar Martinovic), a hulking simpleton forever ogling her legs, and she is drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with venomous Eleanora.
Amuck! takes place in a dreamlike, Euro-horror universe wherein the absurd becomes hypnotic, fantastical and compelling. It exists solely to provide titillation and as such succeeds admirably. Silvio Amadio sucks the audience in with a ripe, exploitation premise, then lulls them into an almost trance-like state with his languid pacing, seductive thrills, a delirious score from Teo Usuelli (particularly that catchy go-go number where a chanteuse purrs “Sexually! Again! Again!”) and lingering close-ups of, the frequently naked, Neri and Bouchet. Rosalba Neri delivers a commendably intense performance as evil Eleanora. Let’s hear it for an actress who, no matter what kind of exploitation tosh she found herself in, always chose to act rather than camping it up. Anyone curious about this sublime Euro-starlet should check out Slaughter Hotel (1971) or French Sex Murders (1972), although Lady Frankenstein (1971) is best avoided. Barbara Bouchet is a wide-eyed and loveable heroine. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in the much underrated, spooftastic version of Casino Royale (1967) (Had she been Moneypenny in the official Bonds, Connery’s 007 would never have left the office), Bouchet appeared in a string of great gialli and reunited with Neri for a cameo in French Sex Murders. Her finest hour came in Lucio Fulci’s masterful Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972), where she played an entirely unconventional heroine.
Although filmed in sumptuous Cromoscope, Eurovista’s limited edition DVD crops the image to full screen and, worse still, is drawn from a VHS tape resulting in a wildly uneven visual experience. Nevertheless it’s worth viewing for both the film and an additional treat – engaging interviews with Rosalba Neri and Barbara Bouchet. According to Bouchet, Silvio Amadio now resides in a monastery. The mind boggles.