6/8/12

The Lonely Violent Beach (1971): Bikers, Beaches, and Not So Bloody Revenge

If you laid out brochures for a number of vacation destinations, many people would choose to go to Sandals or Atlantis. Some might pick an iconic locale like Muscle Beach or head off to Atlantic Beach for some gambling, and Bikini Beach Resort in Panama City, Florida might tempt a number of folks. The one brochure that would never be touched is for The Lonely Violent Beach. No matter how stunning the photographs of waves on the beach might be or how many assurances there were about the area being devoid of roving biker gangs, people simply wouldn’t want to go. There could be pictures of beautiful sunsets and wide open, deserted stretches of beach laid out under a legend claiming less rape this year than ever before, and I just don’t think anyone would be convinced. Unless, I suppose, you were a member of a roving, raping biker gang who didn’t buy into the hype.


Today, I want to talk to you about a pair who decided to get away for a few days to rekindle the spark in their relationship, and I’ll tell you one thing, they should have looked at a few more brochures. Harry and Jane (Walter Maestosi and Mara Maryl) are a couple at the edges of a strained relationship. On arrival, the woefully wedded duo find out the beach is not so lonely when they are confronted by a quartet of fur and leather clad bikers. The leader Fred (Robert Hoffman) has Harry tied up and rapes Jane. Jane, who is unfulfilled sexually, resists but eventually succumbs and enjoys herself. Fred also feels something for Jane, but when challenged by his rival Thomas (Joshua Sinclair), he allows Jane to be raped again. From there a psycho-sexual struggle begins between Harry, Jane, Fred, Thomas and the rest of the gang.

Unlike a typical rape-revenge film like House on the Edge of the Park, Last House on the Left, or Last House on the Beach, The Lonely Violent Beach avoids the cliché by clever shifts in power among the characters. Writer/director Ernesto Gastaldi had already penned a number of the classic gialli including Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have The Key, The Case of the Bloody Iris, All the Colors of the Dark, and I could literally go on and on. That’s not even getting into his output as a writer on Westerns, Peblum, Action, Horror, and again more. Gastaldi penned 121 films in his career, but he only directed five features with The Lonely Violent Beach (La lunga spiaggia fredda) being the third. All of them starring or costarring his wife Mara Maryl. Just as Gastaldi had brought so many other genres to new heights, The Lonely Violent Beach is assuredly more philosophical and acutely psychological to its counterparts. What it isn’t is all that violent.

Let’s leave behind the fact that Jane, the director’s wife, Mara Maryl, gives and enjoys her rape in a scene that is the stuff of a feminist’s nightmares. Misogyny runs rampant in The Lonely Violent Beach, and Jane is portrayed as vicious, unfaithful, scheming, and willing to use sex as a weapon. It’s not like the men are portrayed any better.  Harry is a bewildering clod, Fred and his buddy Speed (Fabian Cevallos) are proved to be hypocritical gurus, and Thomas and Jonathan (Riccardo Salvino) are nothing more than sex crazed time bombs. Even with this cast of psychos, wimps, and peacenik rapists, the violence never ratchets up beyond the mild rapes and a few fistfights. The real violence done is in the mind, but I suppose The Lonely, Psychologically Terrifying Beach wouldn’t look good on a postcard.  

Robert Hoffman (Spasmo, The Sea Wolves) and Mara Maryl form the center of the film with their unlikely love story, and while Hoffman is entertaining and Maryl is easy on the eyes, neither leaves a huge impression. For my dollar, the star was Walter Maestosi as quivering, spineless Harry who eventually finds a kind of strength, even if it is of the sneaky, sniveling variety. Maestosi’s every move was fascinating to watch, and he provided the most dynamic of any character in the film. Make no mistake, he starts and ends as a shit, but I believe they are two very different shits. The normally clean cut Riccardo Salvino (Your Vice is a Locked Room, Swept Away (1974)) disappears behind mats of facial hair and long dark locks, and his perverse biker who gets off on watching the rapes, is perhaps the most revolting of the characters. Joshua Sinclair (Keoma, Inglorious Bastards) spends most of the film gearing up to be the threat, but when he gets there, The Lonely Violent Beach takes its only stumble by not delivering on the film’s climatic moments.

The mental misadventures of The Lonely Violent Beach make for complex movie watching, and the swinging score by Stelvio Cipriani (Colt 38 Special Squad, Rabid Dogs) provided a perfect counterpoint to the bad times onscreen. By failing to provide an adequate climax, which yearned for the titular violence, The Lonely Violent Beach came up quite lonely indeed. Gastaldi reinvented the wheel, but he forgot that people like to watch it spin around. The film’s limited cast and locations hinder the action as well, and cinematographer Benito Frattari, who usually shot mondo films, presented nothing creative or particularly stimulating. So now you know. In a sense now you have read the brochure for The Lonely Violent Beach. If you plan a visit, you know all the pitfalls you might encounter, but, in the end, despite the name, it’s a pretty interesting beach to visit. Just, you know, lock your window, lock your doors, hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband cause bikers are rapin everybody out there.

Bugg Rating

I can't find a trailer so in lieu, Bed Intruder.

 

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