Interesting to watch.
Director Tinto Brass has created a film that I will never, to my last dying breath, ever understand. This is pegged as a “surreal cult classic” and it most surely was surreal and has enough bizarre and incredibly sensational scenes full of artistic shots. In addition, a warped scenario featuring random mind-fuck sets in which I truly had no idea what the hell was going on. Seriously, Brass himself could explain each scene as I viewed it and I would still never “get it”.
The story begins with actress Tina Aumont (a.k.a. Torso, 1973 by Sergio Martino) – who, by the way, is extremely sexy and I will now fantasize about every night along with many other vixens of film – playing the character of Anita, who runs off from her fiancé, Berto Burtuccioli (Nino Segurini) in the middle of their wedding. Again, the wedding was the most abstract one anyone has ever seen. I can only try to describe what I saw and that may not be enough to give one an idea of what the hell was going on. The film is littered with nudity – both bush and breasts, asses and penises – all rampant throughout the film. Brass has no problem with nudity, sexuality, art, and overall confusion in this film. I listened to the commentary by Brass and there still were so many scenes that I was utterly confused upon. I had to take the film for what it was worth; something that just messed with my head throughout the whole experience.
If one is a lover of animals, this may not be your movie. There is a nice scene of a bird getting its head chopped off and I am pretty sure it was an actually bird getting decapitated. The film is raw, visceral, artistic, mind-bending and utterly filled with one bizarre scene after another. At one point, I just wanted to watch the visuals of the film and throw on some heavy-duty instrumental rock or metal and lose the soundtrack and music that they had playing (which sounded like marching music at times).
By my understanding, which is almost nil, Anita goes on with Coso (Luigi Proietti) on a bunch of ridiculous adventures that never turn out for the better. In one such scene, they pretend that they are riding horses and go galloping along the countryside following a half-naked philosopher that preaches about nature. His family is either completely naked or wearing partial clothing and living in and around a tree. They also happen to be cooking and eating a man that was once a missionary. They offer the meat to Coso and Anita who enjoy it until they are told that it was a man that they killed off for food. Of course, why would it be animal meat when it could be a man that was eaten by a cannibal family? So many scenes that normally would be dark or have a certain edge to it are complemented by happy and corny music.
Until I had seen this film, I thought Alejandro Jodorowsky or David Lynch films were going to be the strangest films that I would ever see. I was wrong. Even Shinya Tsukamoto films have more of a linear storyline than this Brass film does. The only saving grace that this film had for me was the gorgeous Tina Aumont being in almost every scene, usually with less than more clothing being worn. I had seen Aumont in only one other film, and that was a film, Jean Rollin‘s , in which she played a ghoul, but the film was later in her career and she was well into her fifties. She was not quite the beauty anymore at that point in her career. I have to say that The Howl has a fair amount of violence and bloody deaths in the film. There are some scenes that would be classified as borderline nasty, such as the man that was run over by the soldiers driving their motorcycle throughout the village while enforcing their martial law.
The bottom line in this review is going to be that this film was interesting to watch, once I realized it was not really made to be understood by anyone, except of course, by Brass himself. Once I quit trying to make heads or tails of this film, it actually let me focus more on the unique scenes and the beautiful Tina Aumont and just admire her sultry shape and figure in all its glory. This film was originally heavily edited and cut (probably due to its high level of nudity) and Cult Epics has released it in a wonderfully clean and restored 16×9 enhanced wide-screen version.
If I had a choice to watch an erotic Brass film or this whacked-out, acid-tripping, mind-melting type of cinema, I would take boobs and bush with a light storyline any day. His erotic films are what won me over as an admirer of his films, not this surreal nightmare that I had to endure for 93 minutes. I felt overall that watching The Howl was a wholly unique experience and one that I will never forget, no matter how hard I try. Brass‘ visual images are ones that will have a lasting effect on me, for better or for worse. Now, I am going to scour the net to see how many Tina Aumont films I can find.
Cult Epics DVD cover: