Wednesday, March 18, 2015

AFF ’15: The Editor

Obviously, editors are important to horror movies. They get to do all the cutting. Of course, these days, it is mostly done digitally, but for 1970s Italian giallo movies, it was all about sharp cutting implements. Unfortunately, journeyman editor Rey Ciso has somewhat lost his touch since a mysterious accident left him with four wooden fingers. In accordance with giallo genre conventions, Ciso will find himself tipped as the logical suspect when a psycho stalker starts knocking off cast-members of his latest film in Astron-6’s spoof, The Editor (trailer here), directed by Adam Brooks & Matthew Kennedy, which screens during this year’s Atlanta Film Festival.

After his freak accident, Ciso either spent time in a private clinic or a looney bin. He and his doctor apparently have very different memories of that time, but that does not necessarily mean Ciso is wrong. Regardless, his new student-intern Bella worships the editor. His past her prime actress wife, not so much. She seems somewhat obsessed the up-and-coming star, Claudio Calvetti. Inconveniently, he is also very dead, along with his frequently naked co-star, Veronica.

Since the killer hacks off the same four fingers from his victim that Ciso has lost, the violent but incompetent Det. Peter Porfiry naturally settles on him as the prime suspect. To make matter worse, the killer has taken an unhealthy interest in Ciso, sending him tapes of his work. At least good Father Clarke believes in his innocence, not that a sexually confused materialist like Porfiry takes much stock in what priests have to say.

The Editor might be a comedic send-up, but it outdoes Cattet & Forzani’s Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears with its loving attention to giallo production details. It looks and sounds terrific, incorporating the sinister Goblin-esque soundtrack, over-the-top bloodletting, and plenty of gratuitous nudity. The way Ciso and Porfiry never change their hideously 1970s outfits is also a nice touch. Clearly, co-writers Brooks, Kennedy, and Conor Sweeney understand what makes giallos tick, right down to the bafflingly incomprehensible finale.

Brooks also serves himself well as Ciso, the cracked up everyman. He is sort of like a straight-man for the gags, except he constantly gets to freak out. Kennedy’s Porfiry also gorges on plenty of scenery, looking like an appropriately low rent Donald Sutherland. Tristan Risk (a.k.a. burlesque performer Little Miss Risk) and Sheila E. Campbell duly vamp it up like good sports as the ill-fated Veronica and Porfiry’s ex-wife Margarit, respectively. Laurence R. Harvey scores some of the biggest laughs as Father Clarke, while the appearances of Udo Kier and Crime Wave’s John Paizs need no explanation.

In terms of tone and substance, The Editor is maybe seventy percent giallo and thirty percent Troma, so it is certainly not for the overly sensitive or easily offended. However, it makes you want to go back and re-watch classics of the genre, which attests to its legitimacy and the cleverness of its satire. Shamelessly lurid, The Editor is quite enthusiastically recommended for giallo fans when it screens this Saturday (3/21) at the 2015 Atlanta Film Festival.