Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Four Times That Night (1972), Or Five Really If You Count Going Arseways

Greetings, friends! I trust my words are reaching you at your most dire hour of need, my musings uplifting your spirit as well as bringing heat to thy loins. Be not as your neighbor, moldering on his over-sized couch, the flickering glow of the telly burning his shadow upon the wall. Gaze with awe as he gets ponderously to his feet! What rough beast slouches its way towards the refrigerator to be born? It is Gargantua, and its hunger is absolute! Instead, be welcomed to the Ducal estate, whereupon we will dine on honeyed venison, glazed grouse stuffed up the pucker with garlics, the grouse then in turn fisted into the anal cavity of an unsuspecting pig, who is then roasted in a pit using moon rocks as coals.

As always, the Duke welcomes thee into his arms. Once again, we turn our royal attention to Mario Bava, that Italiano maestro who is both shiny and angular, as well as inert. We turn his works over in our hands, like a curio purloined from a passing merchant on the streets of Curacao. Sometimes dangerous, sometimes funny, but always sexy, Bava's works give us untold pleasures.

We journey once more, grip my arm with your palsied hand, and let us explore...

As most Bava-ophiles know, Mario did not just capture horror with his lens. Oh No, he did not! Bava was, instead, prone to make movies about everything, from randy socialites to a movie dealing with a suicidal cow in love with the farmer who milks it each day. (Ok, I made that up, but it should have been a movie Bava made!) Today's subject is his naughty Rashomon-esque masterpiece Quante Volte... quella notte, or Four Times That Night. The first thing that jumps out at you when this movie starts is the following fact: Mario Bava did a fuckton of drugs during the making of this film.

Put down the LSD, Mario, and back away.

The film opens with a trippy psychedelic montage of Rorschach-esque images accompanied with some hippie music. The overly-long credits are punctuated by random animated cartoon characters, including a Native American creeping along the ground. What do these mean? We don't know, and we don't WANT to know. What we do want to know is when are we going to get to see some hairy Italian playboy cruising a park looking at some hot chinchillas. Very soon it turns out!

Perhaps they admire his eye for composition?.

After the credits, we do indeed see a spicy Italian dude wearing a cheap suit and a cheaper smile, cruising around in his penis-lengthener in a park, chatting up chicks without even having the decency to get out of the car first. Something tells me this method of picking up chicks wouldn't work so well in the real world, but this is a Bava film and so of course the guy picks up a chick. Actually, he makes a date with her for later that night. Tina, it turns out, lives with her mom, who is naturally protective of her hot daughter, who no doubt has plenty of Italian poon-hounds doggin' her any time she leaves the apartment.

A rare photo from inside the Vicar's bedroom closet.

The garlic-breathed stud Gianni (ironically played by an American actor named Brett Hasley) comes by to pick up Tina (the stunning Daniela Giordano). The two head out to a happening joint, where people shuckle and jive to some spaced out music, no doubt the lot of them hopped up on goofballs, uppers, poppers, and anything else that they could drink, snort, huff, or inject into the vein underneath their penii. After dancing for a while like people with a severe brain injury, we cut to Tina arriving back home, dress torn, sobbing to her mother. This kicks off the Rashomon aspect in which we get a retelling of the night's activities from different points of view. Which is correct? You decide!

Remember fellas: just because you can wear a Speedo doesn't mean you should.

In Tina's version of events, Tina and Gianni head back to Gianni's swinging pad after dancing. And I do mean "swinging"! The dude has a fucking swing in his bedroom, beside his bed. What's it there for? Swinging, of course! Gianni leaves Tina in his awkward bedroom for a bit, coming back in a few minutes dressed only in a pair of skin-tight Speedo-esque underwear. Overcome with horror at the sight of his hairy body and "You know you wanna fuck me" smile, Tina panics. Gianni tries to calm her, with his penis. Rubbing up against her, he begins tearing at her dress while trying to slip her a length.

Tina manages to get away and flees, running back to cry to her mother. This brings us to the second version of events. We see an after-date Gianni hanging with his best buds at the club. Eager to hear all the lurid details of his exploits that night, they listen in rapt attention as the tale unfolds. In Gianni's version, he's being pounced upon by the sex kitten that is Tina. As soon as he picks her up for the date, she jumps his bones in the car, making out furiously. At the disco, she slinks around like a lioness on the prowl, bumping and grinding against the helpless Gianni, who is overcome with revulsion at the sudden bulge in his pants.

Pedobear alert!

They leave the club, heading back to Gianni's, who besides having a bachelor pad that looks like the Vicar's London flat, also has a killer shower in the center of his bathroom, which they also enjoy. In fact, there's a ton of showering in this film, so much so that I feel I must conclude that Bava has something of a shower fetish. Not that we blame him. Tina looks simply ravishing whilst naked. Gianni is reticent, however, to let Tina sink her claws so far in. He is saved by a couple arriving at this house to hang.

"Now open up--here comes the ovipositor!"

This brings us to Gianni's doorman, the superintendent fellow who hangs out in his back office, the walls covered in pornographic pictures, while he's not letting folks into the building. In his version of the night, he's basically a voyeur, using his access to maintenance areas to spy on his tenants. Gianni arrives home with Tina, only this time Gianni is a light-in-the-loafers knob-gobbler who is only bringing Tina home so his lesbian friend can have a go at her while he gets busy with some dude in the next room. The doorman goes into detail describing the lesbonic encounter, which unfortunately for us mostly involves a naked Tina (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong!) being stroked by a feather held by the older butch chick.

The typical male response, succinctly captured here.

This hot action, which contains at least two more shower scenes, is finally brought to a screeching halt by a scene with a psychiatrist who shows us more Rorschach tests and tells us that things only happen from your own point of view, depending on what you see and blah blah blah. For me this is where the movie jumped the shark (ok, that happened when Gianni came out in his underwear, but still). This doctor explains all this and then we get the final act, which is meant to be, from what I gather anyway, what did happen? I'm not sure, I was distraught from the lack of more naked Tina.

Busted water heater pros: lots of soapy snuggling for warmth. Cons: shrinkage.

We see that Gianni and Tina had a nice time out, neither over-sexing the other. Gianni goes to take Tina home and they can't get the front gate to the apartment building open (despite the fact that Gianni lives there). First they try to get Tina over the gate, with Gianni lifting her up, but this only succeeds in tearing her dress (so that explains that... I guess). They give that up and instead hide in the bushes until another couple comes along (the "lesbian" and "gay dude" that the doorman uses in his version of events) and then slip out the closing door. Gianni takes Tina home and all is well.

"Hey, I never noticed hair growing down there before..."

Four Times That Night is an interesting movie, that's for sure. It's very dated, but this works in the movie's favor. The mod furniture, the swing, the dance club, it all adds up for a spectacle that Bava's characteristic camera captures with aplomb. His tendency to zoom a lot is mostly absent here, but his love for framing a scene and using lots of color is highly evident. The movie fairly pops off the screen in some scenes. As for the movie's plot, I found it a mixed bag. There was some message being given here, but it was lost on me, other than the drivel that the psychiatrist was spouting.

"Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!"

That brings me to my biggest gripe, that of having the psychiatrist in this movie at all. His scenes confused me more than anything. I just wanted to see naked Italian chicks, not this bearded old goat! Really, I'm complaining about nothing, since these scenes aren't insufferably long, and do indeed set up the movie's main question: Which version of the night's events is correct? We can immediately throw out Gianni's version, because if Daniela Giordano wants to sex you, then no person on earth would resist.

In the end, though, this movie is worth watching. Sure, it isn't Bava's best, it was constrained by budget after all, but it's funny, sometimes sexy, and just MAD enough to make the cut around these parts. Two Thumbs Up.


Scare Sarah said...

Ahaha, great post. This film sounds awesome!

Richard of DM said...

When I got my Bava Vol. 2 set, I wasn't looking forward to this film at all. But damn it to hell, Four Times That Night is surprisingly great. Bava is da man!

Anonymous said...

God I love this film! Bava could do anything!

dfordoom said...

I haven't seen a Bava film for ages. I know it's heresy, but I think he's a bit uneven and even slightly overrated. Lisa and the Devil and Black Sunday were certainly masterpieces, as was Danger: Diabolik, but his giallo films leave me just a little underwhelmed.

JamiSings said...

This one seems too strange for me, like one of those "All films must have heavy meanings" things. However, if I ever get rich and famous I'm using that club set to design my living room!

The Duke of DVD said...

Thanks everyone! Except for you, dfordoom, the Debby Downer of Bava!

I'm just kiddin', come here you big lug!

Oh, and Jami, you do need to decorate your living quarters like that club, and I bet it wouldn't cost much. A plastic couch and a stuffed peacock would go a long way.

buy movies dvd said...

A great movie for people who likes to watch the Sex movies.

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