Not to be confused with Renato Polselli's even more warped giallo of the same name from 1972, this is still a seriously bonkers giallo from Lamberto Bava – with girls with big breasts and girls with bulbous insect heads! Add to that a thick veneer of camp – made only more arch by the hideous late 80's fashions – plus that great old trash aesthetic of pitching models against monsters (or a looney murderer in this case) then you have an entertaining, if not completely successful genre entry.
Depending on which version you're watching, Gloria (or Gioia in the Italian version) (Serena Grandi) is the busty ex-supermodel of the Pussycat erotic magazine empire. After the death of her porn magnet husband, Gloria returns to an executive position on the magazine – which mostly seems to involve her laying on a sun lounger watching models massaging each others breasts in an azure swimming pool. Circling her is her dead husband's sister, Evelyn (Daria Nicoldi – Argento's ex, here wearing shoulder pads that even Alexia Carrington would collapse under the weight of); the gay photographer, Roberto (David Brandon – who was also seen the same year in Michele Soavi's far superior STAGEFRIGHT); Tony (Vanni Corbellini), her playboy brother; and the teeth gnashingly embittered teen cripple in a wheel chair, Mark (Karl Zinny), who watches Gloria sunbathing (and can't help call her and say things such as “I want to penetrate your flower – and explode!”).
So far, so peachy. However, Kim (Trine Michelsen), the model who was having her breasts massaged in the pool, comes a cropper when, leaving Gloria's house after cocktails, she is is stabbed in the gut with a pitchfork by what looks like a woman in a blonde wig. Continuing his peeping Tom bit, Mark sees the whole thing and frantically phones Gloria. At first she thinks it's another one of his sick jokes, but she goes to check the pool – only to find the dead model nowhere in sight. Things go back to normal until Evelyn is sent a photograph by the killer, who has posed the dead girl's body in front of a giant poster of Gloria is a skimpy red swimsuit.
The stung is somewhat taken out of Kim's murder when the issue of Pussycat with her on the front becomes a best-seller. However, any hope that this is a one off is quickly blown away when the next issue's cover girl is also knocked off ...
DELIRIUM is blessed with a very colourful cast. The busty Ms Grandi (a veteran of Italian sex comedies, and often called the Italian Dolly Parton), does pretty well as the troubled heroine. Italian genre legend George Eastman (aka Luigi Montefiori) (Mr ANTROPOPHAGUS (1980) and Mr ABSURD (1981) himself) here plays a Latin lothario who has designs on Gloria – and in one particularly confusing scene appears to humping her thigh during a frothy bath tub scene. Then there's the predatory lesbian publisher, Flora (ex Hollywood starlet Capucine), who is trying to buy Pussycat magazine; Gloria won't sell, which illicits the acid bon-bon, “I warn you, the hate of a woman can be very bad!”.
DELIRIUM is also blessed by a seriously loopy killer, who cackles like a chipmunk on helium, saying things such as, “Ha! Ha! - Gloria, it's your turn to die!”. The killer also hates women so much that beautiful models transform into monsters with an insect head or a face with one single giant eyeball. Bava apparently said that he'd had enough of the knife – as giallo murder implement standard – which leads to the killer employing some serious warped methods, such as the 'infamous' bee attack. Bava said that DELIRIUM is less extreme thematically and in its visual graphicness than many other gialli - which might explain the modest bodycount. So much so that it plays regularly on Italian TV, even to this day. Having said that, I found the scene where the killer rips off Gloria's clothes, and then barfs blood all over her blindingly white panties pretty out there - and certainly not something that happens very often to Jessica Fletcher!
Not a classic by any means, but DELIRIUM is an entertaining excursion into late 80s Italian horror madness.
female:2 / male:2
1) Female stabbed in stomach with pitchfork
2) Female stung to death by bees
3) Male found killed (method unseen)
4) Male killed in car crash