WFMU Ichiban, Rock and Soul with Debbie D

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Psychotronic Movie of the Week: PARANOIA (aka ORGASMO) (1969)

Fanfare, Italy

Produced by Salvatore Alabiso

Directed by Umberto Lenzi

Michael J. Weldon wrote in Psychotronic Video #2:

"Caroll Baker was nominated for an Oscar (BABY DOLL, '56), studied with Strasberg, co-stared in GIANT (also '56), and was on the cover of Life Magazine three times, but says she was blacklisted by her studio, Paramount, after '66. From '68 and until the early 80's, she worked only in Europe, starring in some pretty sick movies, which she ignored in her autobiography. She starred in two back to back Italian features directed by Lenzi, now known for MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY and other controversial cannibal movies. This one was also known as ORGASMO, and received an X in America when released by Fanfare. The other, A QUIET PLACE TO KILL, was also called PARANOIA, causing a lot of filmography confusion.

This PARANOIA has Baker as Mrs. Katherine West, an alcoholic rich ex-New York artist, arriving at her late Italian husband's villa. A sarcastic hustler (Lou Castel, who later showed up in Wender's AMERICAN FRIEND) worms his way into her life and home. They have sex in the shower, on the lawn, by the pool,... He brings his sexy short haired "sister" (Colette Descombs) along. They both have sex with the confused widow and each other, drive away the servants, drug her, tie her up, blackmail her with photos, and torture her by playing the same bad rock and roll song over and over.  At that point she's suicidal. "When I think of myself, I want to vomit!" Like most 60's Italian exploitation movies, this one has jerky camera work, with lots of fast zooms, and funny music with female voices merrily going "da da dee dee....". Lenzi throws in thunder and lightning, some psychedelic sequences, a discotheque scene, and Baker being served a toad by her captors.