Man, when it comes to horror movies, the Italians really know how to do it. Sure they can bake a good Marsala and some say that their culture and wine are worth looking into but for me, I tip my hat to their wacky way of scaring the pants off me. Seriously, one time it took me an hour to find my pants after a three hour “My Ghost Story” feature on the Bio Channel. Anyway, Italian horror is well known for graphic gore and suggestive scenes but in a certain three-part movie, starring the late, great Boris Karloff, they go for a more psychological sting that leaves the viewer wanting to crawl behind the couch in the 1969 classic, Black Sabbath. Although this feature has three different stories, there is always the one that stands out and this cream of the crop is “Drop of Water.” Let me explain.
After the title screen we are met by the great face of horror, Boris Karloff, doing his "Alfred Hitchcock" style of hosting. The one thing I never knew about this guy until watching him speak close-up is his “Ralphy from The Christmas Story” lisp. Interesting.
So, Boris gives an absolute dynamite introduction as if he is addressing you as an individual by saying such fantastically cheesy lines and warnings like “Vampires…Is that one of them sitting behind you now?” I love that. Wait, is there one behind me?! Nope.
So after a fun few minutes we jump to the first of the series and the only one that I am reviewing today because it is the best and so are you. Let me introduce to you an amazing tale and an Italian Bada-Bing of scary, Drop Of Water.
The story begins with a single woman sitting in a small apartment which is strangely illuminated by a different colored and ever-changing fluorescent sign from a really cool oval window. This is pretty important because the whole movie is different shades of blues, reds and yellows that does give an uneasy feel much like other Italian horrors (Suspiria). She mills around from what appears to be an exhaustive day of work doing the usual: smoking and drinking. This “zen time of a blond Italian girl” is interrupted by a phone call and we see a slightly over-acting part and oddly dubbed-over voice but get the message that she is being put out by some sort of an emergency. Time to swig a shot and put out the ol’ cigerrta; duty calls.
We then jump scene to an old woman cleaning up broken pieces of something on the floor from what appears to be signs of a struggle. She is obviously very edgy with a constant look of worry. Looking around the room we can see why. Again, the colors in this film are amazing and every area is a different shade of red, purple, blue…anything that is unnatural. Soon there is a knock at the door and her look goes from one of worry to that of “well it’s about fucking time.” Reminds me of when Time Warner finally shows up.
Nope, not the cable company. It is the "put-out" woman from the apartment and this is the point when we find out that she is a nurse and one of her duties is to dress recently diseased, er, deceased people and get them ready for a funeral. But listening to the old caretaker, this is a special case and she is in a hurry to get the hell out of there. The nurse seems to be a little brash and not at all concerned with the old woman’s story about her former employer’s death. She warned the nurse not to touch anything or she would suffer a terrible curse and have the same face…fate as her. Did I mention the dead woman we are about to meet was a medium? Yeah, she was chatting with spirits before she was abruptly killed and made into a hideous thing. I think that holds some sort of merit. So, the nurse is in no mood for ghost stories or warnings from beyond. She wants to dress the corpse and go back to boozing and smoking. Then she looks at the task at hand.
Yup! Nothing wrong with that at all! I have to say if I pulled the curtain back and saw that thing staring back at me I would have just sat Indian-style and cried. (Is that okay to say? I feel like Indian-style is no longer a P.C. saying) Matter of fact, I believed the great Final Girl said the same thing. But no, the nurse just sort of gazed at this…thing with a look of, “Well, that is kind of gross,” and didn’t even bat an eye.
I, myself, would have made a look similair to this:
The nurse looks away from the grotesque and huge evil-faced dead medium and spies something a bit more attractive. Her eyes go right to a huge sapphire ring that oddly has a fly which likes it too and is buzzing around, mostly on the ring itself. The warnings of the old caretaker go out the window and we all know that this dead chick isn’t going underground with that ring on. She leaves the room to get the burial dress and a few shots with the old woman and that’s when she learns more about the curse and the how the dead took her. Having just seen that awful face of the expired medium, the nurse is still reluctant to think it is anything more than just a heart attack and scoffs at the caretaker’s warning of ghosts and evil and curses and imminent death. The nurse just wants to get the task of changing the dead woman’s clothes over with, snag the ring and go home quickly. And truth be told, I would be the same way. Except I wouldn’t take the ring after witnessing all that. I am a better-safe-than-sorry sort of guy. I also believe in things that go bump in the night. And Sasquatch.
Deleted kiss scene
While working to strip the dead medium’s clothes and dress her for the funeral the nurse is tormented by the ring and plots to take it but has to distract the caretaker so she asks for stockings and shoes while she works the ring off the rigor mortis-ed finger. That is when we notice something even more unsettling. There are a fuck-load of creepy dolls all over the house. Take a look!
Really? In the drawers too?
So, with the caretaker distracted, the nurse manages to pry the ring off the finger of the dead woman but when it comes loose she loses it on the floor and searches frantically to find it. This is when we, the audience, can tell that this nurse has just sealed her fate. And also a good jump scare. I can’t imagine being in the theater in 1969 watching this when the options for a Friday night feature was this or Beach Blanket Bingo. Anyway, while on the floor this happens:
Hmmm...where did that ring go to?
Shit! Pants! Shit in my pants!
Yeah, the supposed dead woman’s arm falls on the nurse's head causing everyone to shriek. The nurse jumps, spilling a glass of water that causes an echoing drip onto a metal pan. This is an ominous sign of things to come. The nurse finds the ring, stuffs it down her shirt and composes herself right before the old woman comes in with the last required items. She sees the noticeable change in the nurse’s demeanor and asks what she saw. Of course the nurse denies anything unusual but her stride definitely quickens and the two are now in a hurry to leave. She puts the shoes on the corpse and does the terrible task of touching that face to close the medium’s eyes. But when the nurse turns around one more time before they both leave she is greeted with this:
Hello. I am terribly terrifying. How are you?
Could be doing better thanks
Seeing how the dead woman’s eyes refuse to shut is a sign to leave and they both hurry out the door. What could possibly happen now? The medium died in a weird way while communicating with the dead, there are maniacal dolls everywhere, the caretaker warned of a curse, THE FUCKING FACE OF THE DEAD WOMAN, the fly that refuses to leave the ring, and the eyes will not shut so I am not a betting man but I will go with the nurse having a rough night. That’s just me, though.
The next scene we are back at the nurse’s ever-color-changing apartment. She is sitting at the table smoking and drinking and gazing at her recently acquired ring after, what most would say, an odd night. But soon things start to happen and it becomes apparent that perhaps taking this ring wasn’t the greatest idea this nurse has ever had. It starts with that darn fly landing on her finger and she freaks out as if an African blue hornet was in the house. After her flailing around eveything goes quiet except a constant drip of water. In a heighten sense of paranoia the nurse cautiously and slowly searches out the drip and stops it only to hear another from an adjacent room. Strange? Absolutely.
Happy thoughts. Wish I had a TV.
But soon the drips turn more menacing and slowly sounds of shallow wailing and scary noises begin. Is she going insane? Has the curse come to claim her too? Does she know that she left the teapot on the stove? All these questions are racing through not only her mind but ours too. The tension builds to a roaring climax and just when you think it couldn’t get anymore more intense she wakes up and it’s all a dream.
Just kidding. No, she opens up the door to her room and finds this:
Horrified at the sight that her old friend dropped into visit her, she freaks out, runs, trips over the carpet and lands hard. I would have done the same. Well, no, I would have done what my friend, Final Girl said and “squat in a corner and cried.” This scene is the worst part for me because it has everything that could make for a perfect nightmare. Not only is the dead woman back but she is really not quite dead. She slowly sits up defining what my definition of scary is. Maybe it isn’t to some but it is to me.
So, the nurse composes herself, so to speak, and goes back to the kitchen now that the dead woman is in her room, cries from beyond fill the apartment, the lights mysteriously turned off. But it turns out that her friend also has the ability to appear in her rocking chair holding a cat. A cat that doesn’t mind being pet by a dead woman apparently.
For my next trick, I will magically put Indian food in your underwear!
The old woman disappears in front of the nurses eyes leaving a rocking chair rocking solo. At this point I think I would give the ring back but the nurse is too frantic to think of such simplicities and meets the pestering spirit…ghost…demon…thing one last time and she begs for mercy. The dead woman floats towards her and raises her arms slowly causing the nurse to involuntarily bring her own hands to her throat. In a move right out of the playbook to Full Metal Jacket, she chokes herself. To death.
Well, the next day the police and forensic investigators are there piecing together a plausible explanation for why the nurse is dead and choking herself. The landlord is there explaining that this isn’t the first time she has found a dead tenant and she went by the book on reporting it right away. As the investigator tries to pry her hands away from her thoat he states that the look on her face is that of one being scared to death. He also notices the ring missing and her finger is bruised in such a way it looks as if had been torn off. The landlord’s eyes open wide as we soon see that she was tempted the same way the nurse was and took the ring. Uh Oh…
Ring? What's a ring?
And that is how we end the story. Now that I have described one of the more fun and disturbing stories I have seen I can’t help but noticing some similarities between this movie and the later-made Japanese film Rigu. I know this is a jump but look, it has the same basic plot of a cursed item that is passed from person to person and there isn’t really a way to repent. And not to mention the fact that they both have RINGS! Well, who knows? I have never heard the link between the two and as far as I know the director and writer for The Ring made no reference to getting inspiration from this film so perhaps I just make the link myself. Regardless, this is a fun story and the visuals will make a 12 year old go to therapy. I love the cinematography more than I love watching someone breaking their hip in a Jazzersize class (because I really love that). Above all, Boris Karloff and an Italian trio of terror will go down as next to Godliness and for that I say thank you for reading this and if you want to watch this masterpiece of horror, check it out on Youtube. It’s there.