Libido (1965) – Giallithon #3

Libido (1965)This was to be the legendary scriptwriter Ernesto Gastaldi’s first foray into the world of Giallo, and here he actually gets behind the camera and directs this early Giallo under the alias of Julian Berry. He actually co-directed this with Victor Storff aka Vittorio Salerno. The script was written by Gastaldi’s wife Mara Maryl, who also is one of the four main stars of the film, the others being Giancarlo Gianni, Luciano Pigozzi (here as Alan Collins), and Dominique Boschero.

This was also the first Giallo to bring up the much used theme in the Giallo genre of a primal scene (thanks Freud), where something that happened to one of the main characters in their childhood goes on to have a big significance in the film.

In this case, our main protagonist is Christian (Giancarlo Gianni) who as a young boy witnesses his sexually depraved father murdering his mistress in his secret sex room full of mirrors. His father then apparently committed suicide by jumping off the cliffs into the sea at the family home… although his body was never found.

 Libido (1965)
Libido (1965)

We then find ourselves back to present day 20 years later (well the mid-60s here) and we have our 4 main characters driving towards the cliff-top mansion of Christian. We have Christian’s fiancee Eileen (Boschero), his best friend and legal guardian Paul, and Paul’s girlfriend Brigitte (Maryl). In the years after Christian’s father killed himself, Paul has taken guardianship of the estate and looked after the interests of Christian. As they head towards the mansion, we find out that Paul has arranged it so that Christian can finally claim his inheritance including the mansion.

 Libido (1965)
Cue the worst camel toe ever in a Giallo!
Libido (1965)
Once we arrive at the house, the trauma of the past events starts to haunt Christian, and his friends start to get dragged into a vortex of sleaze and violence. Can Christian overcome his demons?

The plot is pretty simplistic compared to later Gialli but you have to remember that this was one of the first films to treat this ground, and it does so very well. Gianni perhaps overcooks his acting a bit with a wild and frenzied performance, but the real stars here are the two lady leads. Maryl does the blonde but mysterious role excellently, and the beautiful Boschero is both lovely and tragic.

Libido (1965)
Libido (1965)

This is a highly recommended essential early Giallo, and as such must be seen by all fans of the genre. Unfortunately it’s one of those classic titles that still languishes without any DVD release, and the only versions that seem to exist are very ropey hard subtitled VHS rips (as you can see from the screenshots). These are also badly cropped from the original aspect ratio, and are missing the sides of the picture.

Libido (1965)
Libido (1965)
Libido (1965)

It’s criminal that it hasn’t had a proper release yet, and I can only hope that someone who will do it a lot of justice will get hold of a good source and give it the release it deserves.

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