Gialloween Day 17: Black Belly of the Tarantula
The rate of which this giallo increases in entertainment value this time around surprised me. Could it be because I’m growing more astute in genre conventions, I’m now picking up on every minute detail that the film gets right? Or rather, could it be that this month long marathon of giallo films has left my mind a gelato mush, its remnants only able to be scooped up with black gloves? Maybe, maybe not— maybe it’s a little of both.
A burnt out inspector follows a series of murders connected by a unique method of death— all of the victims were paralyzed with poisonous needles and subsequently ripped open, matching the way a tarantula hunts its prey. Another discovery uncovers that all of the victims are connected in some way to the luxurious health spa where the first body was found.
Immediately at the start of the film, we are treated to an auditory/visual smorgasbord of giallo-tastic delight. We are introduced to very striking Barbara Bouchet getting a massage in the buff. The music, which can be best described as an equal mix of the moody Seven Blood-Stained Orchids soundtrack with the breeziness of Death Walks on High Heels is equally enticing. Soon after, we are shown an equally swanky apartment and the first murder set piece. Happening all within the first 15 minute of the film, hitting all the marks of what makes a giallo so quickly and wonderfully makes Black Belly one of the best introductions in our gialloween series, if not one of the best in the genre.
Continuing on, the film goes through the familiar format of our protagonist following leads in the investigation of the killings. While the film loses its pace during the middle, there is another great highlight featuring our lead chasing a suspect. Fans of rad buildings and spiral staircases will be just as enthralled by the frames here as they are the very attractive female cast. In addition to the giallo hot shot Barbara Bouchet, this film is not lacking in the eye candy department. Including Bouchet, we have a total of 3 bond girls (!!!) in this film.
The ending reveal and killer’s motivation feels pretty tacked on given the build up and investigation. Almost Argento-esque in unbelievability and troll level, any other film I’d be a bit more annoyed with the conclusion, but Black Belly of the Tarantula was such a great ride to that point that I’ll look the other way. Released during the latter half of 1971 when the genre was just solidifying in the form familiar to most today, it shows that it knew what its predecessors had done before and was able to add enough innovative flourishes with a great presentation to put it in solid standing amongst the genre. A great giallo and good introduction to the genre for those who want something a little different that our boys Argento and Bava