Saturday, August 6, 2016


After a comic book prologue with two detectives discussing a murder case we open on a future Barcelona being evacuated due to nuclear threat. An academic who casually lets his wife leave without him, listens to a tape of his lecture about killers and victims being drawn to each other. Meanwhile a beautiful model, Gim, roams the streets through the cat calls of men to meet a friend. Here we see another woman inspect a steel object d'art in the shape of a fish. Pressing a button on it she finds it is also a switchblade. A group of young men but out Gim's image from a billboard and take it to their flat where they put it on the wall and dance to a looted jukebox. The academic delivers his lecture to a group of dozing or dead middle aged people and outside the murders continue.

I had kept myself from finding out too much about this one. Partly because I prefer to start as fresh as possible with a film but partly, also, as I had a sense it was a thriller in the school of 60s European exploitation cinema like the movies of Jess Franco or Mario Bava. Not so. By the time Gim's street suitors had increased in personal power from a young try hard to an older wolf to a sealed van broadcasting safety warnings which it abandons to proposition her (even trying to follow her up a set of steps) I began to understand that we were in for something very different.

If there seems to be too loose a weave with the different threads and the certainty that there will be no suspense and that there might be more thinking about thrillers than thriller substance. This is not to say that its aloofness from the genre makes it snootily academic. The near constant reversal of the male gaze alone as Gim moves through the near empty city is enough to make this 1965 outing compelling. From the predatory blind street beggar to the gang of fans gathered at the zoo and indistinguishable from the animal exhibits, we are given a tale of sexualised murder in which the perpetrators are more hunted than the victim. Bava's nastier films, and all of Argento's and Fulci's were not privy to the challenges of this one.

Fata Morgana is offered as part of the 60s Spanish new wave, films under General Franco's radar. The industry is an intriguing one giving us the bizarre Blind Dead series as well as Jess Franco's tough and bloody excursions. That this antidote to those was off the ground so early in the development is nothing short of faith creating.

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