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us title: The Black Belly of the Tarantula
italian title: La tarantola dal ventre nero
year: 1971
director: Paolo Cavara
composer: Ennio Morricone
full details: IMDB
overall score: 75

Bottom Line: Entertaining
Nothing ground breaking here, but a fun time nonetheless.

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

**2016-01-27 - Revised review**

Two and a half years have passed since I originally reviewed this film and now after a few additional viewings I can honestly say that I was a bit harsh. Some Gialli take time to fully resonate with me and the mood I bring with me to the viewing is always a factor in my evaluations of these films.

While it's true that the film shares some similarities with the Poliziotteschi, deep down it's a classic Giallo. And despite my original review stating that the murder sequences were void of style, repeated viewings prove that this simply is not true. 

In fact, I would even go as far as saying that there are more memorable set pieces in this film than some of the most popular Gialli. The opening murder of Maria Zani, the follow up murder of Mirta Ricci, the roof top chase and Jenny's murder are all very well crafted and I can imagine myself looking forward to these scenes on subsequent viewings.

There's no denying that the over abundance of young female flesh and the catchy Morricone score lend a big hand in pushing the narrative along. But the script is fairly solid on its own (by Giallo standards anyway) and Giancarlo Giannini is a very likable protagonist.

As far as the Giallo Score goes, the film gained and lost points in a few areas. But considering the three major omissions (no black gloves, no amateur detective and the killer is taken alive) Black Belly is one or two script decisions away from a score that rivals Argento.

So now that I've gotten over whatever was blocking me from liking this film, I'm going to upgrade it to the "Entertaining" category and move it back into my rotation.

In the interest of accountability, my original review of the film is below.


HorrorView is cited for adorning The Black Belly of the Tarantula with the title "Best Giallo Ever Made". Clearly a marketing tactic, which is prominently featured on the US DVD cover released by Blue Underground, this claim should be difficult to swallow by Giallo fans with even a small amount of exposure to Argento, Fulci, and Martino.

While the film does bare some resemblance to Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Case Of The Scorpion's Tail, it seems to lack enough originality to make it memorable (other than Morricone's brilliant but overused themes which easily get stuck in your head).

My biggest gripe with the film is that it bares more resemblance to a Poliziotteschi (Italian crime film) than a Giallo. The main protagonist is a police inspector, not an amateur detective. And this major distinction trickles down into the very straightforward and slow-paced story line.

The murders sequences are void of any major stylistic qualities, and the reveal of the murderer is a bit disjointed as he continues to hover over his current victim and calmly explain the psychological reason for his murder "gimmick" out loud. Once Tellini arrives, the confrontation that ends with what appears to be the killer's death is just plain silly, and the final explanation of the killer's psychological profile seems like an afterthought.

But it's not just me; the Giallo Score reflects this criticism as well:
  • The iconic black gloves are replaced with tan surgical gloves

  • The protagonist is a professional policeman, not an amateur detective

  • There is no accomplice, no mistaken identity, and no definitive list of suspects
The film might have dropped into the 60s had it not been for the fact that Paolo Cavara is credited for another film (Plot of Fear, 1976) that also blurs the lines between Giallo and Poliziotteschi. Since I haven't seen the film yet, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt but I reserve the right to change the score later!

Black Belly does have a few good points with no shortage of attractive women and the aforementioned score by Morricone, but I wouldn't consider this film mandatory viewing for genre enthusiasts, and would recommend skipping it until you've run out of options.

Return to the Score Listings

score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 40/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Classic Period (1970 - 1975)5 points
Motivation: Psychological Trauma/Revenge10 points
Director > 15 points
Standards : 25/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Italian Location3 points
More than one killer or accomplice4 points
Morricone/Nicolai/Ortolani3 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Urban Location4 points
Signatures : 12/10
Airplane1 point
Animal, Number, Color, or "Death" in title1 point
Chase scene1 point
Comic Relief Character1 point
Death from Falling1 point
Dolls/Dummies1 point
Gay/Lesbian1 point
J&B1 point
Odd Clue1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Psychologist1 point
Spiral Stairs1 point
Total Points : 75/100



Wonderful film. It drives in an opposite Tarantino and spaghetti genre a la mode. It's made for a different recensor. 9/10 and more

It's absurd define it in a poliziotteschi style. What does it mean? Nothing!

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Published: 2012-09-13