When a woman is enjoying her time with her secret lover, she gets a call from her daughter that her son has drowned. So together she and her lover rush to the car to go home but crash on the way. And her lover dies. She has a break down and is sent to a mental institution for a year. But when she comes back home she continues her romance with her deceased lover.
I often call Lamberto Bava one of my favorite Italian directors, but clearly it's not always because of his excellence in filmmaking, but because I get great entertainment out of his films. "Demons" is one of my absolute favorite films of all time and it has a sequel that I love as well. Lamberto might not be the meistro that his father was, but many of his films are great horror fun. "Macabre" is his directorial debut that started out as a joke when he and Pupi Avati started writing a script around a news article they found in the newspaper.
A woman is sent to a mental insitution for a year after she loses both her son and her secret lover on the same day. When she comes out she doesn't go home to her family, but go to live in her lover's old place. The place is owned by the same blind man who was there a year ago, and he starts noticing some weird things going on when he hears sex noises through the ceiling. In an attempt to figure out if she is bringing home men or if she's pleasuring herself he stumbles upon something much more depraved.
I find it hard to put "Macabre" into the horror category even if it has some horror-ish moments. It's a really slow-paced mystery that I would say is much closer to thriller and almost drama. The ending is really the only part that is horror (especially if you consider the final seconds). But either way, the story is fairly interesting even if it's slow. This was the second or third time I watched the movie and most of the mystery is gone when you know the ending but it doesn't make it a bad movie.
Lamberto Bava put a lot focus on the fear of sex and I could really notice that this time around - the woman having sex with something we don't know about and the blind man who can only hear the sex. The blind man is the most interesting character in the movie and his failed attempts at contact with the woman are probably some of the best parts. The car accident in the beginning is always a treat, it comes unexpectedly and is pulled off rather stylishly.
"Macabre" isn't Lamberto Bava's best movie, but it's a solid debut and clearly far from his worst. Many of his films are rather silly at times and should be viewed only for the entertainment, but "Macabre" is a completely serious tale of psychosexual nature. It's very slow and tries to keep a big mystery around it, but 30 years later it's probably not as mysterious as it originally was (and especially not after you've seen it once). The final shot in the movie could be called stupid, but with the text coming up straight after I think it works rather nicely in a way that it makes the true story it was based on a bigger mystery. Most fans of Italian cinema have probably seen this film but if you haven't then I don't see any reason to wait.