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Bajo la Piel

Under the Skin
Unter der Haut

Peru/Spain/Germany 1996
produced by
Inca Films, Pandora Filmproduktion, Tornasol Films
directed by Francisco José Lombardi
starring José Luis Ruiz Barahona, Ana Risueno, Diego Bertie, Gianfranco Brero, Jorge Rodríguez Paz, Gilberto Torres, Pierre Linares, Gastón Vizcarra, Agusto Varillas, Jorge Velasquez, Eduardo Yepes
screenplay by Augusto Cabada

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A series of gruesome decapitations, reminiscent of sacrificial rites of the once native Indians, keeps a provincial Peruvian village in its grip, & small-town police officer Percy (José Luis Ruiz Barahona) does his best to solve the murders, soon suspecting the local museum's curator professor Pinto (Gianfranco Brero), but alasw, he has no proof. So Percy turns to forensic doctor Marina (Ana Risueno), who not only fills him in with sme of the details he needs to fortify his case against the professor (like indentifying a ritual blade only a handful of persons, among them the professor, had access to), but Percy & Marina soon also become lovers.

Eventually Pinto is arrested, which becomes big news in the village & Percy becomes a celebrated hero, but when Marina sees him rather spineless in the presence of the town's pompous & sleazy mayor Don Fausto (Jorge Rodríguez Paz), she breaks off their relationship, instead falling for the mayor's arrogant womanizing son Gino (Diego Bertie). Percy however follows her from a distance, & soon enough spies on her & Gino having sex.

Devastated, Percy returns to the precinct, to see the men he left behind passed out on alcohol, & professor Pinto in his cell having hanged himself ... something Percy decides to use for his own advantage, as he hides the body & tells everyone Pinto has escaped - which of course puts the whole village into an uproar ...

Soon afterwards he invites Gino to his home ... & shoots him, then buries his & professor Pinto's bodies somewhere in the prairie, so they would never be found again ... except for Gino's head, which has to be found to tie in with the murders Pinto had committed.

The mayor is out of his mind over the death of his son & blames Percy for letting Pinto escape, but on the other hand, Marina does come back to Percy, & their relationship now starts to really flourish.

Everything seems to be okay until a nosey D.A. comes by & starts asking questions Percy would rather not answer, & he puts doubt in everyone else - including Marina - too, & eventually even an eye witness is found who saw Percy burying something out in the desert, & soon the D.A., the mayor, Percy's own assistant Faurra (Gilberto Torres) & even a reporter drag him out to his makeshift grave & have him excavate it ... & they find a body too, the dead body of Percy's dog, which Percy had the good sense to bury above the 2 men's corpses - & with the beast's body, all doubts are eliminated as everyone but Percy looks a fool.

Soon, Marina is pregnant from him & everything looks fine for Percy - until somebody would have the idea to dig up his makeshift grave again, but then again, who would do that.

 

A nice dark thriller with fittingly amoral touches a little reminiscent of Burt Kennedy's forgotten masterpiece The Killer inside me (1976) in story & the better Hitchcock films in style.

A point of critique though is that Bajo la Piel sometimes seems to fail to realize its full potential & goes for love story & melodram when the plot just cries out for hard-boiled crime drama - which does not make it a bad mocie though.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD