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La Settima Donna

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Posted 21st May 2009 at 12:41 PM by Sam@Cult Labs

From the annals of DVDisgo (RIP) and DVDresurrections

La Settima Donna

This nasty slice of Italian exploitation will please fans of rough fare like Last House on the Left and They Call Her One Eye. In fact the movie was marketed in some territories as Last House on the Beach, which should give clued in viewers an idea of the queasy unpleasantness thatís packed into this stylish but depraved little movie.

Opening with a bank job that leaves a trail of murder, we join three criminals as they try to find a place to lay low until the heat dies down. Two of the scum bags are suitably scarred and ugly but their nominal leader (Ray Lovelock, The Cassandra Crossing) is disconcertingly good looking, resembling a cross between Robert Redford and a male member of 80s Eurovision champions Bucks Fuzz. These three ruthless and callous hoods pull up at a nice looking coastal villa which is occupied by a Nun (Florinda Bolkan from the Fulci Gialloís, Lizard in a Woman's Skin and Don't Torture A Duckling) and some of her female students, who are there to rehearse a production of Midsummer Night's Dream.

It's at this point that the movie starts to get uncomfortable, although, as a self confessed fan of films that leave a nasty aftertaste, I couldn't wait for the horror show to begin. This is classic home invasion material and plays on the same fears as other exploitation movies of a similar stripe like the racially dubious Fight For Your Life and Deodato's Last House riff, House On The Edge Of The Park.

Against an aural backdrop of Euro-cheese easy listening, abstracted disco and a bizarre re-working of Blues boogie group Canned Heat's track Lets Work Together, the band of desperate criminals proceed to spend most of the rest of the movie abusing the school girls and the nun who is watching over them.

The sexual violence in the movie is extreme, with rape scenes and grim assaults coming thick and fast. The rape footage is filmed in a weird, abstract way and never strays in hardcore territory, instead it feels like really sick out-takes from Clockwork Orange, with one particular slow motion defilement being really hard to watch. What makes films like this more grubby than say French shocker Irreversible is this removal of realism. In Irreversible you get to see the full horror of a sexual assault in all it's vile detail, here we are presented with rape as artfully shot entertainment. The effect is eye scorching and makes films like this true horror movies. There's no supernatural boogeyman to give the viewer the necessary distance from the reprehensible action, just a gang of sleazy hoods who could be driving through your town, looking for a place to hide and a few kinky kicks along the way.

Some comfort is to be derived from the fact that one of the girls, on being surprised in a bathroom while in a state of undress, sticks her would be assailant with the sharp end of a hair brush, leaving him with a nasty, infected wound and bad attitude for the rest of the movie. I couldn't wait to see him get his during the finale...

As a exercise in slow build terror and psychological torment, La Settima Donna is hard to beat. It's not for everyone and if your someone who likes a nice scary movie and a splash of gore but nothing really twisted then your going to hate this film. If, however, your a fan of grind house movies and like to be offended by your viewing choices, like me, then this film is a must. The performances throughout are great, with the two ugly bad guys playing up the melodrama of their pantomime roles. The smooth leader of the gang is more interesting, as he seems to let the other two wreck havoc with the hostages, getting off on the pain and torment while excusing himself from blame by claiming he has nothing to do with it.

As with all rape revenge movies, the film makers couldn't justify to amount of sexual depravity on screen without making sure that the abusers get their dues and when the nun and her charges turn on the robbers, it's an orgy of gunshots in the brain and ugly beatings... Most satisfying and of course, it allows the audience a get out clause in the final closing minutes.

Overall, this is a good genre entry and fans of the style will want to pick this up. For those not so well versed in the non-PC world of rape-revenge movies, caution is advised but I still think this is worth investigating.

This is the second release in the Sazuma label's series of beautifully presented 'Italian Genre Cinema Collection', the first being the wildly deranged cop thriller, 'Suspected Death of a Minor'. The company really know how to present these obscure cult items, making these releases highly collectable with decent packaging featuring original poster art in good quality, numbered digipaks.

La Settima Donna comes with an added soundtrack of the aforementioned bizarre score, which is a real plus that more of these 70ís movies need. Half the fun with retro exploitation is the fantastic score, so they are to be congratulated for unearthing the music for everyone to enjoy. Other extras include trailer, alternate credits and an informative featurette.
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