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  Trap, The The Ties That Bind
Year: 1985
Director: Giuseppe Patroni Griffi
Stars: Laura Antonelli, Tony Musante, Florinda Bolkan, Blanca Marsillach, Cristina Marsillach, Laura Troschell, José Maria Bastos, Achille Brugnini
Genre: Horror, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Michael (Tony Musante) has just spent the lunch hour in bed with his mistress Hélène (Florinda Bolkan), but now the fun is over, she wants to talk business, or at least the arrangements for the next few days when she has to look after her son for the Christmas holidays. Michael isn't particularly interested in what she does and essentially tells her to please herself, so he can see her after she has attended to her family matters, leaving Hélène disgruntled but compliant. When he gets back to his office, he is requesting a file from his put upon secretary only to realise he left it back at the apartment, but when he goes to fetch it he notes the woman across the hall looks strangely familiar...

The Trap, or La gabbia as it was known in its original Italian, was notable to cult movie fans for reasons of its cast, who included a trio of slightly past their prime stars of that sort of cinema, and the fact that hidden away in the credits was the name Lucio Fulci, that creator of trashy horror from Italy whose lack of hesitancy in pushing the envelope of violence in movies had won him a fervent following lasting to this day. Quite what he had to do with this isn't entirely clear for he was listed as one of four screenwriters, so he may have contributed a draft, but whatever he did the results were far from the sort of shocker he would have delivered and closer to the psychological thrillers proliferating in the eighties.

Seems you couldn't move for unhinged women around this era of film, and there were not one but two of them here making life difficult for unreconstructed chauvinist pig Michael, though not in a comedy 9 to 5 fashion, more in a hothouse melodrama style that could have seen the plot quite well adapted to the stage, should it ever have come to that (it didn't). It was also one of a gradually increasing number of thrillers to use sexual bondage as a plot point, something that started in porn then moved to arthouse, with stops along the way to such popular paperbacks as Let's Go Play at the Adams' or Stephen King's Gerald's Game, until the apex or nadir (depending on how you viewed its success) Fifty Shades of Grey in the twenty-first century.

So it was really back to porn for bondage in popular culture, but the character tied to a bed in The Trap was not a woman, she was the one doing the tying, the across the hall neighbour Marie, played by Laura Antonelli. She had been a megastar of softcore in the seventies, certainly in her native Italy but also abroad, though she sadly became more notorious there in her latter years for becoming a recluse after losing her looks, one of those stories which makes one a little melancholy for lost youth, in her case at least. What her role here amounted to was not really disrobing, though she did a little, but acting as the nemesis for Michael, for as we witness in brief flashbacks he warped her mind as a teenager when he seduced her, including tying her up for his own pleasure.

Now, although outwardly a sophisticated woman about town, Marie is actually corrupted by her experiences and having caught up with Michael she's dead set on turning the tables. One night of passion later, he is roped to the bedstead by his wrists; she allows him to go to the bathroom, but then ties him up once more, he thinking he's going to have more fun until her teenage daughter Jacqueline (Blanca Marsillach, the sister of Cristina Marsillach who plays the younger version of Marie) tells her she is wanted on the phone. Oh, just popping out says she, leaving Michael still at a disadvantage and with Jacqueline turning out to be just as kinky as her mother. If this sounds like some crude male fantasy, as if sure, it must be hell for him to have two attractive women lusting after him, the manner in which it plays out is far more sickly and dejected, especially when the ordeal takes its toll on Michael leaving him seriously ill before long. This vengeance scenario dreamt up by men for women is not without its points of interest, but it's all rather dour and relentless. Music by Ennio Morricone.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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