For want of a strange horror film, look no further than Lamberto Bava’s Macabre released in 1980. It begins innocently enough as audiences follow a woman on her way to an affair, leaving her kids at home. That is when things take a turn into the horrific as the little girl named Lucy drowns her brother in a tub in a scene that is both disturbing and somewhat graphic. One frantic call later and Jane is rushing back home with her lover driving the car when they get into an accident and he is decapitated. After a period of time in a sanitarium, Jane is released and moves back into the house where her lover once lived and that is where the abnormal soon comes into play.
Though it is a bit of an oddity, Macabre is definitely riveting as Bava keeps his viewers glued to the screen as he slowly paints his picture of a woman who, unbeknownst to the audience, is coming apart at the seams. He does this through Robert as played by Stanko Molnar – her blind landlord and a man who has a bit of a crush on Jane despite not being able to see her. More than anything, Robert wonders just who it is that she is seeing up in her room because he hears nobody come in or out of the house and to say his curiosity is piqued is putting it lightly. At first, he simply believes that Jane is pleasuring herself due to the sounds she makes up in her bedroom but as time goes on and she begins talking to the long-dead Fred, he knows that something is not right. Bava also brings the little girl back into the picture as she wants to visit her mom and that too rings the alarm bells for the audience because Lucy is not at all a normal child.
With a plethora of screenwriters in Pupi Avati, Roberto Gandus, Antonio Avati and Bava himself, they keep things moving slowly but surely as this mystery unfolds and it is not long before the mystery turns into horror and it is realized that Jane should have stayed in the sanitarium. Bernice Stegers who stars as Jane does a great job at playing the mentally ill woman for who else but someone truly ill would have sex with the frozen head of their dead lover? Even that is not the strangest thing to take place in this film as the closing shot reveals something even more startling and more than rewards the audience for their patience. One has to feel sorry for poor Robert as he has no idea just who Jane really is and though he is fooled for a period of time, when he finally decides to do something about his suspicions, he is far too late.
Filled with a sometimes jazzy, sometimes moody score, Macabre is just that – a film that comes from the more peculiar parts of a man’s mind and it is one that deserves a look if in the mood for some horror that is a little different than the norm.
3 out of 5