Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971)

In the 1971 Italian giallo thriller “The Black Belly of the Tarantula,” we meet a very unusual policeman, Inspector Tellini. He is unusual, insofar as these gialli are concerned, because he’s unsure of himself, not certain if he should stay with his job, and makes many mistakes. Then again, his adversary here is a bit unusual, too: a killer who paralyzes his victims with an acupuncturist’s needle in the back of the neck before ever so slowly (and excruciatingly…for this viewer, anyway) slicing their abdomens open. For the life of me, I could not figure out where this picture was headed or what it had on its mind; forget about figuring out the identity of the killer! Thus, I just sat back and enjoyed the ride, and was pleased when everything did congeal, plotwise, at the end. And there ARE many things to enjoy here. Tellini is played by Giancarlo Giannini, a year before he would commence a string of some half dozen hits with director Lina Wertmuller that would catapult him to international stardom. He is as fine an actor as has ever appeared in a giallo film, and he is here surrounded by some truly gorgeous women, including no less than three former/future Bond girls: Barbara Bouchet (whose exposed, superperky buttocks automatically earn this film 5 stars!), Claudine “Domino” Auger and Barbara Bach, here looking younger than I’ve ever seen her. Other things to enjoy: a creepy, arrhythmic, discordant score by the great Ennio Morricone, flashy direction by Paolo Cavara, some good action scenes (I love that three-way rooftop chase) and, like I mentioned, a meaty story to sink your mental teeth into. Not to mention those grisly murders!