Director: Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy
Writer: Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney
Producer: Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks
Stars: Paz de la Huerta, Adam Brooks, Samantha Hill, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Laurence R. Harvey, Udo Kier
A giallo film editor with a wooden hand becomes the top suspect in an occult-related mystery as those associated with his latest movie are murdered and their fingers severed.
Forget “The Equestrian Vortex.” “Tarantola” is where it’s at. That’s the latest giallo film under the editorial stewardship of Rey Ciso. Once considered the top craftsman in his profession when he was cutting such splatter crime masterpieces as “The Cat with the Velvet Blade” and “Color Me Sin,” Ciso is now derided as a laughable cripple since severing his own fingers during a fit of temporary madness. Hobbled by a wooden hand, Ciso’s life is made more miserable by an insufferable starlet wife oblivious to her increasingly fading has-been status.
True trouble for Ciso comes when actors, assistants, and associates at the studio begin turning up as corpses with missing fingers, an injury suspiciously reminiscent of the editor’s peculiar malady. The chief inspector, whose wife is stricken with sudden blindness from the hysteria of discovering one such bloody body, concludes that Ciso must be guilty. Before the investigator can solve the crime however, he’ll have to contend with crawling legions of Brazilian hissing spiders, arrogant actors, insane asylum sexual seductions, and an occult exploration into the ancient Roman belief about film editors being bridges to the netherworld.
From the mad minds of the fiendish filmmaking team collectively known as Astron-6, “The Editor” is a wittily funny parody born of an affectionate appreciation for the giallo genre. This isn’t a lowbrow jab at easy targets. This is a smart Friar’s Club roast of an entire cinema subsection. Every gag, joke, howl, and insult is underscored with a reverence that makes the film as much of a loving tribute as a satirical send-up.
Between its severed head and severed limbs, “The Editor” overflows with enough whispered voices, turtleneck sweaters, razorblade slices, and colored gelatin lights to fill the filmography of any Italian horror auteur whose name begins with Dario, Lucio, Lamberto, or Mario. “The Editor” makes plenty sure that all jokes are in plain view for the taking; it’s impossible to miss something like the bevy of butt cheeks offering off-to-the-side sight gags. Yet no matter how outrageous the goof, nothing is so supremely over-the-top as to become a pastiche itself.
It would be easy to echo Bill Murray as Hercules to put across the absurdity of shockingly shoddy dialogue dubbing. Here, such typical trends of seventies sub-cinema are no more exaggerated than when they were en vogue. “The Editor” taps directly into the inherent lunacy of giallo filmmaking staples themselves without teetering too far overboard into snickering slapstick.
Credit the stability in its style to a wall-to-wall roster of perfectly pitched performances. Writers/directors and co-stars Matthew Kennedy and Adam Brooks, the latter of whom resembles Lance Henriksen with Sam Elliott’s mustache, set the range with one role more straightly subdued and one more prone to bug-eyed expressions. Everyone else is free to run the playground in between as each scene sees fit.
As much as some like lobbing complaints in Paz de la Huerta’s direction for varied reasons, her mix of Melanie Griffith meets Jennifer Tilly is on the money for an actress of questionable talent ignorant to her own irrelevance. Some additions like Udo Kier and Laurence R. Harvey are unnecessary, or rather their characters are, certainly not the actors. Although in satirizing a genre partially defined by non-sequiters, there may not be such a thing as an unnecessary inclusion of anything.
Laughs start arriving less frequently as “The Editor” winds into its final third. The gags don’t become any less funny, but “too much of a good thing” comes into play as the steam begins hissing into a controlled wheeze. Even those who “get” the humor can only guffaw at commonplace misogyny and niche “New York Ripper” in-jokes for so long.
The plot also feels the burn around the same point. Even with heavy swaths of comedy, “The Editor” doubles as a satisfying giallo in its own right until a mostly sensible structure drops entirely out the window. It might be part of the point to amp up the madness so much that the storyline loses coherency. Though the looseness in the resolution creates an impression of the last 30 pages of script not trying as hard as the first 70.
But “The Editor” is an experience so fun that its sincerity and its high entertainment value smooth out the bumps with a hammer of good humor. Spend a weekend with “Deep Red,” “The Beyond,” or any combination of preferred Argento, Fulci, et al. films. Let them inflate for a moment. Then give “The Editor” a go with an open mind to pinprick that balloon. Add in an absolutely killer soundtrack whose closing theme you are guaranteed to beatbox randomly for hours after the fact, and you have one of the most enjoyable movies of the year.
NOTE: There is a brief scene after the end credits.
Review Score: 85