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Sean: Truthfully all those male cops run together for me. By the way, I thought the movie’s depiction of kids possessing a basically cruel nature was great and spot on. She is obviously an abject victim of her circumstances. Kristine: No, because she did think she was murdering those kids with her witchcraft. Plus, her speech (which was great) where she says, “I’ll break you, I’ll break you” shows that she is truly nuts, I think. She’s a total force of Nature (and of Supernature). Kristine: I would have been fine with her going full-sex-offender.

Especially how it was interlaced with their mixture of nervousness and innocence when actually confronted with adult behavior (Patrizia’s nudity, for instance) and not just playing at adulthood (smoking cigarettes, etc). Ok, so let me ask: Was Maciara the true “hero” of the movie? Sean: Is there no way at all to read her as a kind of radical figure? And remember how the movie goes to great lengths to point out that in this part of the world, “witchcraft” isn’t quite pagan? Just being like, “I’m bored in the sticks so let’s tear this place up!

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Kristine: I mean, it all boils down to one scene for me, and I think you know what I’m talking about. Pop music used to stage a scene of brutality and griminess is done to perfection in that scene. I thought there was a stark contrast between Michele’s mother (the good Italian matriarch) and the priest’s mother (witchy and suspicious) on purpose. Kristine: Remember when she sends Michele up to Patrizia’s room with… But even still, the minute a full-grown man comes along (Martelli, the reporter) she turns into a not-crazy, average lady who wants to save the children?

That graveyard beatdown was crazy and incredibly upsetting and spooky. Sean: I think the music is supposed to be diegetic (meaning it’s the music coming from the car, so the characters are all hearing it too, not just the audience). You know exactly what is going to happen, and the movie takes it’s time, so you get to feel the full weight of the dread. If it had been some ridiculously choreographed or elaborate sequence, it would have felt “directorial.” But instead I think the scene forces the audience to feel like voyeurs witnessing something real. Sean: I think that Italian cinema is totally obsessed with/fascinated by women in a unique way, and that giallos are really about staging confrontations with different kinds of women. I thought she was being held up as a kind of archetype of goodness. But before she was like, shoving her beaver into a 10-year-old’s face and pouring orange juice over her nipples? Sean: It was weird – the movie wants her to play the role of the slut and also of the heroine.

I know there are a lot of other things “going on” in the movie, but I am stuck on that scene and that’s all there is to it. Because during the beating, one song ends and then another begins. The men turn the music up to cover up the noise (of the beating). The premeditated feel of it all makes it so much worse. I mean, this movie overall has a more cinema vérité vibe to it. Sean: Well, there is a village idiot woman (named Stupid Ludmila) who is stomped to death and it is very similar to this movie. Kristine: Do you think it is significant that she was the one beaten to death, not Giuseppe? They are obsessed with: 1) the Seductress 2) the Mother 3) the Witch and 4) the Virgin. But overall I think that all women are distrusted in this world, for various reasons. Kristine: Oh, I thought Michele’s mother was terrible. But that duality is kind of interesting, because the movie doesn’t ever really punish her for being a nudist and a vamp. This is a perfect instance of the other side of horror’s depiction of women.

Sean: Well, why don’t you tell me what seems important about the scene to you? Sean: At this point in the story, also, Maciara’s been cleared of suspicion in the murders. And in the giallo, one or more of these is often revealed to be the killer. Are horror movies often pathetically retrograde and sexist, if not downright misogynistic? But there’s also this other side, where horror a space to encounter kinds of women that aren’t allowed to exist in other genres, or to permit female characters to express things – desires, interests, predilections – that they’re not allowed to admit in other genres.

So you know the real motive is that she’s just a non-traditional woman that needs to be exterminated. Sean: You’re right about the “effects on the body” being key to the sequence, I think. the lesson about what happens to “outsiders” in a community of distrust and ignorance. This is where I am interested in the gender politics of the giallo, in general. (Actually, for Bava I might add a fifth archetype: the Widow). Maciara, the Witch, is just one of three women that the village treats with distrust – there is also Patrizia, the Seductress from the city, and Aurelia, the priest’s Mother. Sean: I don’t think there’s a virgin in this movie. In other kind of movie (and, hell, in most other horror movies) “correcting” Patrizia’s character would be of paramount importance, if not just flat-out punishing her.

Her arrest simply gives the villagers the perfect excuse to curbstomp her. I mean, compared to Don Alberto falling down the cliffside with sparks flying off of his face… is just a woman being hit with a chain, and witnessing the effects on the body of that action. The murder of Maciara is the gore centerpiece of the movie, where Fulci is really showing off the practical effects they developed. Fulci’s juggling so many characters and subplots that’s he like, “A-we a-don’t a-have-a the time!

Kristine: Which character doesn’t want to release her from police custody right away, because their might be “trouble”? ” and just lets her scamper around, being a provocateur.

And then Martelli, the outsider (and city slicker) who thinks he is being moral, insists on her release because he doesn’t “get” the village the way the local cops do… You hate yourself for wanting to make out with him. Kristine: I think the movie takes great pains to establish her as someone who, through no fault of her own, is deeply fucked up and probably beyond redemption. I also want us to remember those swinger couples at the beginning (though those women are probably prostitutes)….

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