Severin Films 5-disc set.
I’ve sung Kier-la Janisse’s praises earlier here about the “All the Haunts Be Ours” folk-horror boxset that she curated for Severin Films. I assume a good many of the people reading this are familiar with Janisse already from her book “House of Psychotic Women,” published in 2012. 2022, the book’s 10-year anniversary, saw the publication of an updated edition (new films appear in the book’s appendix) and this boxset of four movies. Though much smaller, this release is equal in quality to “Haunts,” if perhaps more niche-focused: all of the films featured could fall under the heading of “Eurocult.” This is the first American Blu-ray release of each.
Identikit (1974), directed by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi and based on Muriel Spark’s novel “The Driver’s Seat,” stars Elizabeth Taylor as Lise, a somewhat prickly woman on a trip from London to Rome on her way to meet up with a man. The film jumps around in time as Lise is apparently being pursued by the police, and we see the reactions of people who have encountered her and their interrogations. With incidents of terrorist activity in the background, it seems that Lise is on a mission that will end up in dire consequences—which indeed it does, but not all how one might expect.
Identikit comes at the end of what has been referred to as Taylor’s career decline, a period that included offbeat projects like Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), Boom! (1968), Secret Ceremony (1968), and Night Watch (1973), all of which were thoroughly roasted by critics at the time and no more successful with audiences. Those films are being reevaluated and are now considered to be among some of Taylor’s best work. Identikit stands proudly amongst that body of work. Lise is abrasive and disagreeable to most she encounters: service people; airport security (note that the movie was shot one year after airport security measures were put into place, which look quaint and lax compared to current times); and toxic men like Bill (Ian Bannen), a buffoon who thinks he’s just her type, and Carlo (Guido Mannari), a mechanic who gives her a ride to a hotel and attempts to rape her. But Lise shows some wistful vulnerability with an older woman (Mona Washbourne) with whom she goes shopping, a man she thinks might be the person she’s looking for (Andy Warhol in a cameo), and the man who is the one she’s searching for. As the movie skips around in time, Lise proves to be a totally enigmatic character, even as she achieves her goal.
The audio commentary by Millie De Chirico (late of TCM Continue reading HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN: RARITIES COLLECTION