Orgy of the Dead

Color, 1971, 100 mins. 6 secs.
Directed by José María Forqué
Starring Analía Gadé, Jean Sorel, Rosanna Yanni, Tony Kendall, Maurizio Bonuglia, Julio Peña
Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray) (US RA HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Though The Fox with a Velvet Tailits title is The Fox with a Velvet Tailclearly inspired by the flamboyant, often baffling names found in Dario Argento's landmark animal trilogy and its imitators, this Spanish-Italian co-production is more of a sexy, sunny entry in the run of twist-filled but less explicit upscale thrillers from the '60s (Paranoia, A Quiet Place to Kill, The Sweet Body of Deborah, etc.). In fact, excellent French actor Jean Sorel, a fixture in a handful of those films, is on hand here for another tale of adultery, deception, and murder among the European jet set.

The new marriage between Ruth (Maniac Mansion's Gadé) and Michel (The Whip and the Body's Kendall, stuck with a really terrible coiff) seems destined for disaster -- not because of their tendency to wear matching gold outfits, but because she announces she fell for another man two months ago while he was out of town. Michel protests she should think twice about tossing their union aside since she couldn't possibly get to know someone that quickly, but right on cue, the new paramour shows up in the form of Paul (Sorel). A huffy Michel doesn't put up much resistance as Ruth and Paul take off for the seaside, where their romantic idylls are soon interrupted by apparent murder attempts involving car brakes and scuba diving, the presence of eccentric military buddy Roland (Bonuglia), a smoldering neighbor (Yanni), and the unexpected arrival of Michel. When death finally does strike, it's clear that something very shady is going on in this seemingly tranquil paradise.The Fox with a Velvet Tail

Sumptuous to look at and nicely cast, The Fox with a Velvet Tail is low on actual violence (most of it occurs off screen) but high on cheap thrills and smoldering The Fox with a Velvet Tailsexuality, even if the nudity is kept to a '60s level of coyness. Gadé and Sorel make for an interesting pair, and it's a sleek, somewhat strange experience right from the start with its animated opening credits playing off the use of a swan (which turns up as an unlikely pet later on). One major asset is the lush, memorable score by the great Piero Piccioni, who was still in his prime here (just after Camille 2000 and The Slave) and delivers a frequently used theme song performed by regular vocalist (and one-off giallo actress) Shawn Robinson. (Much of his recorded score didn't make it into the film, but what's left here is still gorgeous.) The supporting cast is an intriguing batch as well, with Argentinian-born Euro horror fixture Yanni (Kiss Me Monster, Count Dracula's Great Love) making a strong impression (including one of the strangest three-way scenes in '70s cinema) and a very young Bonuglia (The Perfume of the Lady in Black) getting the most colorful role here in the second of his three gialli (between Yellow: le cugine and The Fifth Cord).

A fairly popular title on the Eurocult VHS-swapping circuit in the '80s and '90s, this film was circulated under a variety of titles including Lusty Lovers and, most frequently, In the Eye of the Hurricane. The 2017 Blu-ray release from Mondo Macabro is the first opportunity most viewers will have ever had to view this film in prime condition, and it's a real beauty from start to finish. The glorious The Fox with a Velvet Tailbeach settings really pop here, and when the film tries to go for outrageous visual style (such as a great extended bit in which Paul rents out a colorful discotheque for the The Fox with a Velvet Tailevening), it's eye candy of the first order. The film itself bears the original Spanish credits under the title El ojo del huracáne. Both English and Italian LPCM mono options are included, with optional translated English subtitles for the latter included. The English track generally fares better and sounds less canned, though your mileage may vary between the two.

So Deadly, So Perverse author Troy Howarth contributes another fast-paced, fact-filled audio commentary here, interjected with his usual welcome touches of good humor as he offers his own take on this film's giallo classification (dubious due to the heavy Spanish involvement and Spanish director), the similarity of one swirling shot to the later Carrie, the backgrounds of the actors, the varying involvement of the Italian and Spanish participants behind the camera (which accounts for its different credit sequences), and the tradition of upper crust gialli. A music-filled English trailer (3m50s), a silent alternate scene (1m54s) scored by Piccioni music, and the English opening and closing credits are also included. However, the biggest video extra is "So Sweet, So Perverse" episode (25m18s) of the great UK Eurotika! TV series, with actresses like Dagmar Lassander, Daniela Giordano, and Erika Blanc chatting about their glory days of sexy Italian films. A limited 500-unit edition sold directly via Mondo Macabro was released a few months earlier, featuring a red case and liner notes by Pete Tombs.

The Fox with a Velvet Tail The Fox with a Velvet Tail The Fox with a Velvet Tail The Fox with a Velvet Tail The Fox with a Velvet Tail

Reviewed on October 1, 2017.