The Curator of Schlock #191 by Jeff Shuster

Black Belly of the Tarantula

Another score by Morricone? He’s the James Patterson of film composers!

Did any of you ever watch The Wonder Years, that stupid Jean Shepherd wannabe reminiscence show about three kids growing up in the 1960s, a time of turbulent change. There was the everyboy, Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage), girl next store, Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar), and dorkus malorkus, Paul Pfeiffer (Marilyn Manson). There was one episode where Kevin Arnold befriended some weirdo named Margaret Farquhar only to throw her to the mercy of their cruel middle school classmates at his earliest convenience. Before that happens, Margaret told Kevin a story about how the tarantula species got its name, something to do with them being named after a dance. Fascinating. Rolling Stone ranks The Wonder Years as the 63rdgreatest TV show of all time so I guess that would make it the winning loser.

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Speaking of tarantulas, this week’s movie is called The Black Belly of the Tarantula, a 1971 giallo film from director Paolo Cavara. Get this: the killer in this movie sneaks up behind women, sticks them with a needle dabbed in wasp venom, temporarily paralyzing them. He then proceeds to carve them up with a knife while they’re conscious of what’s happening to them, but unable to move. That’s pretty sick! I mean, come one. We learn later that it’s a sexual thing for the killer, driven by the fact that his wife ridiculed him over his impotence.

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That is sufficiently disturbing. This time around, the police are actually trying to solve the case! I think the serial killer’s first victim was smuggling cocaine so that piqued their interest. Inspector Tellini (Giancarlo Giannini) is leading the investigation, a world-weary cop with a young wife named Laura (Claudine Auger) who wants to sell the old furniture in their apartment so they can buy new furniture. There’s a hilarious scene where the furniture movers show up right as she’s about to serve dinner. If the movers take the furniture away, she and her husband will have nothing to sleep on that night. Laura tells the movers her husband is a detective and they’d better come back the next day to pick up the furniture. The movers acquiesce to her demands. Mr. and Mrs. Tellini sit down to a tasty roast chicken dinner.

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But yeah, there’s a killer on loose. Again, we have a killer wearing a black trench coat, fedora, and latex gloves instead of black ones. You know, if a guy walks around in a black trench coat, fedora, latex gloves, and an optional tarp over his face, he still may not be a serial killer. Maybe it’s just a fashion statement. Maybe that sharp knife in my front pocket is for scraping the gum off of trees in the park. Uhhh…I’m getting off track again. What’s left?

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There’s an awesome 70s rooftop chase scene where the detectives are chasing after a suspect. Someone falls to his death. Detective Tellini lays a beat down on the killer at the end of the movie. I was jumping up and down in my seat as Tellini repeatedly bashed the killer’s head against a wall. You never saw anything that awesome on The Wonder Years. Sigh.


Jeffrey Shuster 1
Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

 

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