Copyright Company and Date: Copyright 1978, Written by Morando Morandini Jr., Massimo Pirri, and Federico Tofi; directed by Massimo Pirri, Produced by Ducale Film and Una Cinecoop
Submitted by Nakuyabi
Simona: At eleven years old, this girl is the not-incredibly-heroic last main character standing.
Simona's Father: Credited as "Vera's Husband" which shows how high he rates on the casting list. He shoots himself.
Simona's Mother Vera: Somehow, she manages to be both a major ice queen and the town bicycle. She gets shot.
Frederico: A kiddy-fiddling serial killer who gets a little sympathy from Simona, and none from anyone else. He gets shot.
Lieutenant: A crooked cop and one of Vera's many conquests who still seems more decent than most of the cast. He gets shot.
Antonio & Company: Thoroughly despicable vigilantes with mafia ties who are after Frederico. They haven't gotten themselves shot yet by the end, but it might be only a matter of time before they do.
If you're a child rapist and murderer, never join any club that wants you for a member.
Italians do not believe in gun control. Period.
A child killer is not necessarily ruthless enough to be a hitman.
Blackmail and bribery are a lot more effective than interrogation.
Even if a girl wants to have your baby, that doesn't mean she plans on keeping you.
Never let both a mother and her daughter seduce you; this never ends well.
Being both frigid and slutty is entirely possible.
If you ever threaten someone with a knife, don't stick around to apologize afterward.
No matter how nice a whore is to you, she still does expect payment.
Suicide is not the answer to your problems; violence is.
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
0 mins: Nothing quite compares to starting with a guy holding a corpse.
10 mins: Begging a girl for help this way sounds a lot more romantic in theory than it looks in practice.
14 mins: She painted this tortoise yellow for some reason. (A visual pun? Giallo is Italian for yellow.)
16 mins: RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A DOLL!
19 mins: Is he offering to pimp one of his men out to her? Yes, I think he is.
30 mins: The realistic extraction of a bullet. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
31 mins: Now there's a solution even he probably hadn't considered before.
34 mins: The conversation sure took a nasty turn right here.
39 mins: Threatening a little girl is not turning out to be the winning strategy Antonio hoped.
40 mins: RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A RADIO!
42 mins: This wouldn't be the first time she's pointed a gun at him, I guess.
43 mins: You're setting huge steel traps for your pursuers? Way to keep from calling attention to yourself, Frederico!
45 mins: Apparently, someone asked him "How can we convince you you're not a pedophile, just confused?"
50 mins: Uh, did he just do what I think he did with that candle?
51 mins: What exactly did they do? They're still fully clothed...
57 mins: People really shouldn't leave candles burning unattended like that.
58 mins: Did she just steal a gun? Yes, she did.
61 mins: RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOTS!
62 mins: Uh, yeah, that's real subtle... (I'm guessing most exported versions cut out the next half-minute or so.)
65 mins: Dude, she's on your side! Is this how you show your gratitude?
67 mins: Frederico, you are an IDIOT!!!
68 mins: Antonio, so are you!
69 mins: That's lame, Frederico; lame, lame, lame, lame, LAME!
82-83 mins: RANDOM GRATUITOUS PEEP SHOW! That does it, everyone: just die, already.
95 mins: Apparently, he thinks he's got a vampire to kill.
96 mins: RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
99 mins: RANDOM GRATUITOUS WING-WANG!
100 mins: Right down to business. Goodbye, Lieutenant. Somehow, I don't think we'll miss you all that much.
101 mins: Goodbye, Vera. I know we won't miss you.
103 mins: Ciao, Frederico. If you wanted to live, you really should have split a lot sooner.
Credits: And so they all died. Yay! A happy ending.
Even if you don't speak Italian, it shouldn't be too difficult to guess what the title means. L'immoralità is what's called a giallo, a rather loosely-defined category of artsy Italian cinema that typically includes a lot of sex and violence, but in a rather understated way. This particular example of the genre is a crime drama which plays out something like a cheesy juvenile horror flick, but without so much as a hint of humor, even of the unintentional kind. The point of virtually all the sex and violence is not to titillate you, but rather to make you squirm very uncomfortably in your seat, and at this it succeeds all too well.
As with most giallos, L'immoralità also racks up quite a body count, although more are implied than actually shown. The very first scene, for instance, shows Frederico digging a shallow grave to bury his latest victim, a young (as in barely pubescent) girl he's indicated to have raped and strangled. He buries the shovel along with her, gets back into his van, and is almost immediately spotted by his pursuers when he gets back on the road. Of course, most of us are probably already rooting for the police to catch him at this point, but if they did, this would be a really short movie, wouldn't it?
To be sure, Frederico is having a bad day; the cops avoid a lengthy car chase when they promptly run him off the road, forcing him to flee on foot as they fire their sidearms after him. Though their aim isn't all that great, one of the officers does manage to wing him before he escapes into a lush forest with swampy undergrowth nearby, and he's also forced to abandon his overcoat at one point while wading through the water. On the other hand, the first person he meets on the other side of this forest is the young and seemingly naive Simona, who takes pity on this sick puppy of a man much the same as she might on a literal sick puppy and puts him up in a small storage shed where she keeps some of her other pet projects.
Even more to Frederico's advantage, as is gradually revealed to us and as he discovers while recuperating, is that Simona's parents are both very wealthy and very miserable, and nobody in her family gets along very well with any of the neighboring townspeople or each other. The town is a wretched hive of corruption and hypocrisy where very nearly all that distinguishes the local law enforcement from the mafia's enforcers is the uniforms. Simona's mother Vera is a brazen slut as contemptuous of all her paramours and all of the gossips in town as they are of her. As for Vera's husband and Simona's father, he's an old man in a wheelchair who's evidently well aware of his wife's wanton ways, and is mostly holding on to his life just to spite her as she's waiting for him to die.
From this situation arises the particular personal intrigue that keeps Vera from turning Frederico over to his pursuers immediately the way most people would when she discovers him. She knows all about his crimes, as she makes clear from the start when she questions him about his past. In one chilling scene, she even gets him to offer up his rationalization for why he does what he does: he insists he didn't really want to kill his victims, but they wanted to stay young and beautiful forever and he obliged. As for why he raped them, he explains that he doesn't "feel manly" with women his own age. (This inspires another rather sickening thought: is the order of those questions and answers meant to imply Frederico is a necrophiliac as well? Ugh.) While Vera is appropriately skeptical of everything he says, she has some chilling intentions of her own: she plans both to make Frederico her latest sexual conquest, and manipulate him into killing off her husband for her.
With such a wretched lot surrounding little Simona, you might be guessing that she's the one providing the moral anchor for this movie, but here you'd be guessing wrong. Certainly, she is by default the most sympathetic character, in good part because everyone dumps on her for a lot of things that aren't really her fault. Also, while it's horrifying to see the prey welcoming the predator into her home and tending to his injuries in ways that must be sorely tempting to him (such as—memorably—giving him a pair of her panties to use for a bandage while he's removing the bullet from his arm), one can hardly help but admire her compassion, however badly misplaced it may be. We can even muster some sympathy for her stubborn refusal to reveal anything she knows about Frederico to the police and the vigilantes when they bring her into the station and show her pictures of some of his other victims, considering how harshly Antonio in particular interrogates her.
What keeps Simona from being at all heroic is that, as her interactions with everyone else in this story gradually reveal, she's also remarkably cynical and jaded for her age. The only person for whom this little girl has any genuine affection is her father, who's shown giving her some firearms training when we're first introduced to him and for whom she regularly goes into town to buy ammunition and equipment to help him maintain his impressive gun collection. Her mother Vera, in contrast, seems to have passed on some of her worst personality traits, and it's obvious that Simona knows full well about her mother's many affairs even if she doesn't know all the specifics, and that the mother and daughter hold each other in mutual contempt. It's also clear that Simona is well aware her family is the talk of the town, and though she never hears anything they're saying behind her back, she surmises their attitudes and despises them just as much as they despise her.
Worst of all, Simona is shown to have already picked up Vera's perverse attitude toward sex as a means to an end, and she ultimately manages to outdo her mother for sheer depravity in what may be the most notorious sex scene of all time. Knowing full well that her mother has brought Frederico into the house and is planning to seduce him, Simona decides to seduce him first. While poking around the house, he catches her taking a bath and she lets him stay to watch as she gets out and dries herself off. Then, laying herself out on the bath mat, she tells him she wants to have a baby and—to put this as delicately as possible—he does everything he can to give her one. Dare I mention, by the way, that I'm not spoiling anything except maybe your desire to see this film by telling you this? A still frame ripped from this sordid scene (in which a body double filled in for the eleven-year-old Simona, of course) is shown in the upper-right corner of the cover art on the official DVD case.
Believe it or not, everybody manages to get even more despicable in the scenes that follow. Following what leads they have, the Lieutenant and his police show up at the family mansion accompanied by Antonio and his vigilantes. After their search of the grounds around the mansion turns up nothing, Vera tells them off and sends them on their way, but Antonio and his goons circle back on their own soon afterward carrying big guns and demanding to be let in to search the house. As if to remind us that they're no heroes either, the vigilantes casually proceed to run roughshod over the family's property rights and privacy, forcing their way in over Vera's protest and ransacking the house until her husband finally scares them away with a couple of well-placed shotgun blasts. Frederico, who's still in the bathroom with Simona during this raid, pulls a knife and threatens her with it (just in case you had any scrap of sympathy left for him) even though he doesn't really need to; she sides with him against the home invaders anyway.
After the vigilantes are gone, Frederico makes a rather lame apology to Simona for threatening her (though to be honest, I can't think of any way he could have apologized that wouldn't have sounded lame), while Vera gets into an argument with her husband when she starts taunting him for failing to hit anyone with those shotgun blasts. He responds in kind, goading her for not having the guts to kill him herself. Later, Vera tries once again to convince Frederico to murder her husband, and later still she sneaks down to the cellar where she's keeping him and does the horizontal mambo with him while a horrified Simona watches them through a key hole. Yeah, you'd never have guessed a child-molesting serial killer would be such a chick magnet, would you? In case you still have any sympathy for either of them, Simona later calls her mother out for her vile behavior, and Vera in turn chews her out for having behaved no better.
The next day, the Lieutenant turns up again to remind us there are truly no heroes in this movie. To be sure, like the hero of a mystery, he's deduced with a little help from Simona that Vera is hiding Frederico in her house, and has come to talk her into turning him over to him. However, he's also trying to blackmail her into giving him a free roll in the sack with her. Treacherous slut that she is, he doesn't have much difficulty closing both deals with her, and she locks Frederico into his room before taking the Lieutenant up to her room with her. While Frederico hammers on the door and screams at her to open up and curses her for selling him out, Simona heads up to her parents' rooms only to have the door to her mother's bedroom slammed in her face (of course) and then find the door to her father's study locked with no response to all of her knocking. Climbing out on the roof through an adjacent window, she makes her way through the window into his study...
Frankly, were it not for the final twist to the story (which is also sort of given away in the cover art on the DVD case), I might seriously have considered giving this movie a skull rating. However, after watching this movie establish how perverse and vile pretty much everyone in it is, I couldn't help feeling a certain powerful satisfaction watching so many loathsome characters finally meet a richly deserved demise. Also, where other movies uses the hypocrisy of the characters as an excuse to promote sexual libertinism or some such nonsense, this one uses it to deconstruct that excuse by showing just how far down the road to total depravity an argument from hypocrisy might take us. The title is apt, considering that were it not for everyone else's immorality, Frederico would never have found refuge from his pursuers for as long as he did.
All of this is not to say L'immoralità is a good movie, or that you'll find much to enjoy in it. You'll need some patience and stamina to watch it all the way to the end, and a good deal of intellect to parse out the point to all of this depressing depravity. Still, it does arguably have a happy ending if you like seeing despicable people get shot. (Working from a certain point of view, one could make the case that Easy Rider had happy ending using the same kind of argument.) For that, and for having a unique twist at the end that only a giallo could have, I believe this movie to be worth the pain and discomfort one must endure in order to watch it all the way through to that end.