Director: José María Forqué
Mondo Macabro

Mondo Macabro gives first-class treatment to one of the more obscure examples of the giallo with their Blu-ray of THE FOX WITH THE VELVET TAIL.

Ruth (Analia Gade, EXORCISM'S DAUGHTER) is about to jaunt off to her seaside villa with new lover Paul (Jean Sorel, SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS) when her estranged husband Michel (Tony Kendall, THE LORELEY'S GRASP) shows up wanting to work things out. Although he is not pleased when she tells him that she is going to pursue a divorce, Michel does not make a scene (even when Paul shows up to be introduced). While Michel was not a wealthy man before meeting her, Paul showers Ruth with extravagant gifts, including a live swan that she discovers in her bathtub. Their time alone, however, prove to be short-lived as Paul's globe-trotting war buddy Roland (Maurizio Bonuglia, TOP SENSATION) turns up unexpectedly and makes himself a fixture on the estate, and slinky stranger Danielle (Rosanna Yanni, FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR) rents a bungalow on the estate. When Paul gets a business call and Ruth takes the sportscar out on a ride along the cliffs, she is nearly killed when the brake line is revealed to have been punctured and then nearly drowns while scuba-diving with a faulty oxygen tank. When Michel turns up, Ruth begins to suspect that her jealous husband was not trying to kill her but Paul. Surprisingly enough, Paul comes to Michel's defense and posits that her guilt over taking up with a new lover has caused her to interpret two coincidences as a murderous plot. Soon enough, Ruth does discovers that someone is indeed trying to kill her, but to what end?

A Spanish/Italian giallo from prolific jobbing José María Forqué – whose other exploitation efforts included BEYOND EROTICA with David Hemmings and TAROT (released stateside on video as AUTOPSY) with LOLITA's Sue Lyon – THE FOX WITH THE VELVET TAIL has an Italianate post-Argento giallo animal title but is more akin to the jet-set gialli of the late sixties with Carroll Baker (among them Umberto Lenzi's A QUIET PLACE TO KILL co-starring Sorel). Nothing of much consequence happens for the first twenty-or-so minutes but the film manages to hold our attention with the attractive presences of Gade and Sorel frolicking in ornate villas and lush grounds (including an upside-down kissing scene that far predates SPIDERMAN) or shopping for vacation accoutrements as prettily-photographed by Alejandro Ulloa (THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z) – second operator Giovanni Bergamini (CANNIBAL FEROX) is given credit on the Italian and English prints (although he assisted Ulloa on a number of Spanish and Italian films) – and the lush score by Piero Piccioni (CAMILLE 2000) that includes a silkily-voiced theme song by Shawn Robinson. Gade and Sorel get the bulk of the screen time in and out of bed but character development is pretty basic, with Kendall's ex a rather noncommittal character who seems neither a threat or the better choice. At first it seems as though Yanni is just window-dressing but it is ultimately Bonuglia who is given next to nothing to do but literally "hang around" while Yanni easily upstages Gade throughout the final act which does include a nice series of twists to a rather basic giallo plot. Spanish horror fans will recognize Julio Peña (WEREWOLF SHADOW) as the police inspector.

Released in the UK theatrically as LUSTY LOVERS, THE FOX WITH THE VELVET TAIL has only been available on the gray market as a rip of a Dutch VHS tape of such terrible quality that the highlights blow out with almost no detail in faces and bright scenes. An Italian TV recording became available more recently in better quality but Mondo Macabro's Blu-ray is derived from a new 4K restoration and the 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 widescreen transfer puts some studio titles to shame. Even without the luxury of a dual-layer encoding, the image is crystal clear with bold colors and a wealth of detail in faces, knit clothing, and the setting from the plush villa interiors to the rustic exteriors. The LPCM 2.0 mono Italian and English tracks are fairly clean throughout with only a few moments after the hour mark evincing distortion on the high end. The optional English subtitles are provided for the English track and illustrate some differences between the two dubs. THE FOX WITH A VELVET TAIL is a translation of the Italian title, although it has been known in English as IN THE EYE OF THE HURRICANE. Incidentally, the titles that accompany the feature are the Spanish ones EL OJO DEL HURACÁN which superimposes the title over a whirling vortex animation over a woman's eye while the English title sequence included as an extra imposes the HURRICANE title over the image of the titular "fox with a velvet tail" of the Italian title sequence (which places the vortex animation later in the sequence). Yanni is credited correctly on the Spanish sequence and as "Rosanna Gianni" on the English/Italian titles while Bonuglia becomes "Mauricio Bonuglia" on the Spanish sequence.

Film historian Troy Howarth, author of "So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films", provides an audio commentary that includes quite a bit on Forqué who maintained his stance as a journeyman director of popular genre films even after establishing his own production company Orfeo – the company behind Jess Franco's highly personal and darkly erotic THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR – and provides a survey of his credits from his genre work noted above to his comedies and television productions. In discussing the film's genre aspects, he touches upon the use of "giallo cad" Sorel and the more ambiguous use of Bonuglia, its surface production value the genre milieu of the rich and idle, as well as the rather familiar plot turns. "So Sweet, So Perverse" (25:18) is another of the Eurotika TV specials, this one focusing on Italian genre starlets and the period in which a pretty girl could end up in the movies by chance, with Erika Blanc (THE DEVIL'S NIGHTMARE), Orchidea de Santis (THE WEEKEND MURDERS), and Daniela Giordano (FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT) relating how they were discovered by agents on the street while Dagmar Lassander (THE FRIGHTENED WOMAN) recalls that she had gotten married and divorced at an early age and needed to make a living. They, along with Brigitte Lahaie (FASCINATION), discuss their roles illustrated with clips while the narrator also touches upon the careers of French erotica starlets Sandra Julien (I AM A NYMPHOMANIAC) and Joelle Couer (LES DEMONIAQUES). The included trailer (3:50) is curious in that it has English text but is in Italian with English subtitles, while the alternate title sequence (3:12) is the aforementioned English one which should have been used for the main presentation since, despite having the HURRICANE title, it does feature the graphic of the release title's animal. The extra scene (1:54) is an alternate version of the bedroom scene between Gade and Sorel for which audio does not exist. Extras are rounded out by the Mondo Macabro promo reel. (Eric Cotenas)