Grindhouse

Paranoia

A Quiet Place to Kill

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Paranoia

“Love is the tool that strips a jet-set widow bare of her morals and her millions!”  This was the first of four giallo collaborations Carroll Baker did with Italian director Umberto Lenzi (Almost Human) and it remains the most popular. Lonely widow Baker flies to Italy with her lawyer, who is settling her wealthy husband’s estate, and takes up residence in a secluded villa. Soon after arriving, a penniless playboy (Lou Castel) suffers a car breakdown outside her gates. She allows him to repair it in her driveway. One thing leads to another, they end up in bed, and he insinuates himself into her life. Out of the blue, Castel’s bisexual “sister” (Colette Descombes) shows up, and Baker feels a growing uneasiness. Mind games escalate: debauched threesomes, playing a pop single repeatedly to annoy Baker, and finally drugging her and tying her to her bed. A mix of real suspense and Valley of the Dolls-style dramatics, elevated by Baker’s uninhibited performance (including a generous helping of gratuitous nudity) delivers, as do two – yes, two – wild twist endings.

Chris D. explores the career of Carroll Baker, acclaimed American actress turned Italian exploitation cinema queen, on the New Beverly blog.

Director
Umberto Lenzi
Starring
Carroll Baker, Lou Castel, Colette Descombes, Tino Carraro
Year
1969
Country
Italy/France
Format
35mm
Running Time
91 minutes

A Quiet Place to Kill

Carroll Baker is Helen, a race car driver (you heard me right) living in Spain who suddenly spies her former lover (Jean Sorel) on the track during a practice run, causing an accident. Slightly hurt, Helen needs rest, and coincidentally Sorel invites her down for a vacation at the coastal cliff side estate of his wealthy new wife (Anna Proclemer). Already sick of Sorel’s philandering, Proclemer tries to enlist Helen in a murderous plot. Things don’t go as planned. Accident? Homicide? Emotional chaos and paranoia envelop Helen’s existence. Then Sorel’s sexy stepdaughter (Marina Coffa) arrives, amping things into overdrive. Loud colors and groovy fashions are in a constant swirl of early seventies delirium, and once you are halfway through this sexy psychological thriller, you’ll understand why in some European territories it was released as A Drug Called Helen (it was also called – to the confusion of many Lenzi/Baker fans – Paranoia!). It rivals Mario Bava’s Five Dolls for an August Moon in ultra-mod, unwholesome goodness.

Chris D. explores the career of Carroll Baker, acclaimed American actress turned Italian exploitation cinema queen, on the New Beverly blog.

Director
Umberto Lenzi
Starring
Carroll Baker, Jean Sorel, Luis Dávila, Alberto Dalbés
Year
1970
Country
Italy/France/Spain
Format
16mm
Running Time
94 minutes

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