I wish more boutique labels would follow suit with Severin and do a podcast. It’s a great way for the curators of the label to not only keep fans updated on what’s going on with the day to day workings of the label, but to help give us context as to why they chose particular films and why they’re worth picking up. I mean, given how deep some labels are digging for these hidden gems nowadays, it’s a great way to deliver some context for the film fan who may not be up on that particular sub-genre or director. I am not even going to lie, that podcast was the first time I heard of Spanish filmmaker Eloy De La Iglesia and I immediately wanted to seek the Spaniard’s films out. Severin was kind enough to send over a few of the director’s films, one of which I will be reviewing today.
No One Heard the Scream (1973) is a Spanish Giallo that very much takes place in Spain. Given the reputation for these Italian thrillers in the 70s, Spanish filmmakers were notorious for making it appear their Gialli were Italian, by either casting actors or shooting exteriors in Italy. Ironically this practice was also common in Italy, shooting exteriors in the US in an attempt to pass films off as American. This film however, very much transpires under the Franco regime in Spain and digs into some common themes of De La Iglesia. The film follows Elisa (Carmen Sevilla) a late 30 something high class escort, who after canceling a trip to London to visit one of her clients, happens upon her neighbor Miguel (Vicente Parra) trying to dispose of the body of his dead wife down an elevator shaft.
Rather than killing the beautiful witness, Miguel forces Elisa to assist him in getting rid of the body, thus implicating her in the crime and making her an accessory. From there, Scream is part Giallo, part road movie and part twisted romance as the two characters find something dark, twisted and similar in each other on their adventure to dispose of the corpse. Along the way we meet Elisa’s young sugar-baby boy toy, discover how deadly the woman is with a speedboat and like all Gialli the film delivers one final twist that will have you scratching your head long after the big reveal. It’s an odd mix, that plays out through the queer gaze. De La Iglesia was openly gay and so was the star of the film Vicente Parra and it really gives this Giallo a different feel. There is an erotism to the lens of the Giallo that usually sexualizes the damsel in distress, but Elisa isn’t helpless by any stretch of the imagination and instead we see the men through this prism and by accident this offers a refreshingly feminist take.
Severin released the film that has never seen an English release before today. Previously the film was only available through a Region 2 DVD, without English subtitles. The Blu-ray presented here from a fresh 2k scan looks like it was shot yesterday and is only viewable with English Subtitles, but a film like this really should be see in its native language. Along with the film there is a short doc about De La Iglesia and the Spanish Giallo, to further contextualize the film within the time and within the director’s filmography. It’s an informative deep dive that gives you some insight and some homework for other films to track down. Also while it was recorded before the film’s release I would highly suggest checking out Episode 11 of the Severin Films podcast for even more info on the director and his other works.
For Giallo fans No One Heard the Scream is a worthy watch, the film’s probably closest relative in more recent cinematic offerings would be Knife+ Heart with its Giallo through the queer gaze. While the narrative aspect was well executed and that last twist really throws you for a loop, I found the cultural nuances supplied by the dictatorship equally fascinating. For instance, there’s a subplot where the couple en route to dispose of the body are stopped by police at a bus accident and charged with transporting bloody survivors to the hospital, in a bizarre detour on their mission. While No One Heard the Scream traffics in the expected luridness and trappings of the Giallo, it’s the perspective and locale that makes this film stand out in the genre. Personally I found it very refreshing because of how its casts aside the woman in peril trope, that such a hallmark of these films and instead has a female who we soon discover has the same appetites and abilities as her captor.