“Giallo” is slang for “stylish Italian slasher.” Giallo movies are a lot like cannibal movies. They’re repetitive, simplistic, and defined by over-the-top sleaze. If you watch enough of them, they become indistinguishable from one another. A giallo needs something special in order for it to make a lasting impression.
For instance, a killer who appears to be jumping out of a tree when attacking people, even when there is no tree in sight.
Thirsty For Love, Sex, And Murder is a Turkish shot-for-shot remake of The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh. The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh is one of the films that set the bar for the giallo genre. But Strange Vice isn’t E.T. or Ghostbusters — it was not a world-wide phenomenon, like the source material for most Turkish rip-off movies. To put it another way, making a Strange Vice rip-off is like making a License To Drive rip-off. Both movies might be masterpieces to a small group of people (i.e. me), but wide appeal is limited. That’s probably why the filmmakers added that 1962 hit, “Sealed With A Kiss,” to the soundtrack of this movie. You’ve got to pull them in somehow.
A man wearing a black trench coat, black gloves, black fedora, and sunglasses is jumping into frame and killing naked women with a razor. The naked women are naked because none of them own underwear. Meanwhile, a woman named Mine is married to a man named Metic, but it’s a sexless sham. Mine is haunted by a sadomasochistic relationship she once had with a rapist name Tarik, so she doesn’t have sex. Metic can’t have sex because of an “accident.” Mine’s best friend, Oya, sometimes wears nothing but a red ribbon before sex. Oya has a boyfriend named Yilmaz who falls in love with Mine. Yilmaz says, “Doors cannot stop my love!” after appearing in the foyer of Mine’s house at random. Mine and Yilmaz fall in love and have sex. The killer has nothing to do with anything. Soon, there are mod dance parties, carnations being delivered in the middle of the night, double-crosses, gunshots, nervous breakdowns, backflips, and jump kicks. If this is hard to follow, don’t worry about it. You can just watch The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh and this movie still won’t make sense.
Thirsty follows the Turkish precedent of storytelling without logic. That’s expected. It’s one of the traits that makes Turkish filmmaking so enjoyable. We don’t have to pay attention. We know that these bigger-than-life cartoon melodramas will feature Turkish Spider-Man as a serial killer, the theme from Jaws, Turkish Oliver Hardy punching children, or any combination thereof. Those details are what fuels our amazement — not the plots. And typically, the cheap filmmaking techniques complement the details. The methods in Thirsty aren’t just complements. They’re fist-pumping revolutions.
The soundtrack for this movie feels like it was pieced together by a deaf orangutan with OCD. Every five seconds, a new song begins. Most of the time, these snippets overlap. In the rare instance that a song plays for more than ten seconds, it’s just a foundation for five other songs to be playing on top of it. The effect is similar to someone hitting “record” while five people randomly drop the needle on fifteen different turntables at the same time. It’s confusing and insane. And it never stops. The editing works in a similar way, like a blitzkrieg of schizophrenic motion. Things move so fast, and cuts happen so randomly, that there’s barely time to understand anything. It’s like someone picked out their favorite parts of a longer movie and spliced everything together in chronological order. It’s also clear that the filmmakers were manufacturing their own version of Italian Style. Shots originate from under a steering wheel, from behind a cocktail glass, and in long, empty zooms. Flashing green and red lights accompany a kill scene, while a lovemaking scene is photographed through a funhouse mirror.
Thirsty For Love, Sex, And Murder is not on the level of all-time best Turkish hits, like Casus Kiran or Death Warrior. It lacks variety, despite the fact that it’s only 58 minutes long. But whatever. If every giallo was as ridiculously constructed as this one, I’d watch more of them.