Vacanze per un massacro (1980)

A perfect example of EXPLOITATION ACTION. Holiday Massacre is a fucking trip. It is truly amazing the quality of film that Fernando Di Leo made on such a small budget. This movie is truly fucked up. I think Di Leo was really trying to show the ugly-bloodlust-perverted side of people. It shares the same kind of intensity and setting as “The Last House on the Left” and “House on the Edge of the Park.” In a remote area where no one can hear you scream. The story is simple: A killer escapes from prison, and goes to retrive the 300,000 lira he stole. It is in a hunting lodge, and there he meets the owner, his wife, and her nymphomaniac co-ed sister; madness insues. Starring the lovely and oft naked Lorraine De Selle (which you know from Umberto Lenzi’s Cannibal Ferox aka Make Them Die Slowly). Di Leo also reuses the music from Milano Calibro 9. I was saving this for the end of the month. A kind of “Christmas isn’t over ’till Italian Action moth is over” present. Enjoy!

The film was based on a subject by Mario Gariazzo, a director who in the seventies, gravitated into the orbit of Daunia and to whom Fernando di Leo “lent a hand” by offering advice for his script – for his detective film, The Bloody Hands of the Law – and for the production of his western, Holy Water Joe and the tear-jerker, The Balloon Vendor, a story vaguely inspired by William Wyler’s famous film, The Desperate Hours. At the start it was Gariazzo who was to direct it but at the producers’ insistence he was finally replaced by di Leo.

The budget was very low (the film was shot in a remote house in the Abruzzo mountains) and the means and number of actors (only four in all) were scarce, but di Leo managed to exploit those limitations in a creative way. He focused on the desolate setting to make the plot oppressive and claustrophobic and developed the psychology of the characters in a negative and neurotic sense in order to produce a constant tension, both in the dialogue and in the action. Although the director considered the film a minor entry in his filmography, Vacation for a Massacre (the original title belonged to an old script for a western which di Leo had written in the late Seventies: it must be said that in the reprints and the home-video market, the film also circulated under the title, Madness – Vacation for a Massacre), over time earned a certain admiration from the audience, especially abroad and particularly due to the violent and morbid pulsations which characterized it.

A word must be said about the leading actor, Joe Dallesandro, who came from Andy Warhol’s famous Factory and who on the set, maybe because of an intake of mysterious drugs, was capable of amazing physical feats.