BR: No One Heard the Scream / Nadie oyó gritar (1973)

October 10, 2021 | By

Film: Very Good

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: Very Good

Label:  Severin Films / MVD Visual

Region: A, B, C

Released:  August 24, 2021

Genre:  Spanish Giallo / Thriller / Horror

Synopsis: After witnessing a murder, a woman is forced to help the killer dispose of the cadaver, and slowly gains an upper hand once the deed is done.

Special Features:  Featurette: “Eloy de la Iglesia and the Spanish Giallo: an interview with film scholar Dr. Andy Willis” (23:44).




After the grisly thriller Cannibal Man (1972), Spanish auteur Eloy de la Iglesia opted for a far less graphic thriller which is part giallo, and part homage to Alfred Hitchcock, plus an unsubtle undercurrent of very black humour.

Carmen Sevilla, star of de la Iglesias’ The Glass Ceiling (1971), plays Elisa, a Spain-based escort of sorts who makes monthly trips to London where she entertains a wealthy Spanish ex-pat, and uses her financial gifts to maintain an upscale lifestyle with a boy toy on the side. Part of Elisa’s upward mobility includes a flat in a new apartment complex that’s nearly completed, but with most units either unsold or unoccupied, Elisa is one of three inhabitants in this corner block edifice where there’s no security beyond the (presumably) live-in concierge.

When her next flight to her British benefactor is delayed, she opts to return home, and within a couple of hours sees her neighbour in the process of dumping a body into one of two very narrow elevator shafts. Miguel (Cannibal Man‘s Vicente Parra) immediately gives her the classic ‘It’s not what you think!’ look, and when she secures herself in her apartment, it’s inevitable the only other tenant (and her immediate neighbour) will find a way into her unit. With a gun and zero security in the building, Elisa reluctantly lets in Miguel, and echoing the shared ‘cross-crossing’ guilt in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), de la Iglesias has her ensnared in a peculiar bargain: Miguel will allow her to live and he will not divulge her precarious financial and social dependency on wealthy men if and only if she becomes his partner in crime.

The blackmail is highly far-fetched, but as the drama progresses, it’s clear Elisa has her own set of secrets, some discrete guilt, and she soon senses his forced offer may enable an escape from a hugely unfulfilling life and dependency on the kindness of srangers; showering in a giant golden bathroom is great, but Elisa’s daily life is devoid of genuine emotional connections and intimacy with a devoted partner.

Miguel suggests they dump the cadaver at her lakeside cottage, and although their road trip gets a little absurd, just as in Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry (1955) the wrapped cadaver offers a few mordantly funny circumstances which the actors play completely straight.

De la Iglesia’s tongue-in-cheek direction of these scenes is arguably softened by the pair’s  ridiculous carelessness as the pair handle a body in broad midday sunshine on sparsely treed land. It’s also impossible to believe the racket from Elisa’s attempted escape by mowing down Miguel with a noisy speedboat didn’t send a few vacationing neighbours to the water’s edge with binoculars, or call the police.

The screen entrance of Elise’s boy toy Tony (Tony Isbert, sporting a blonde Rassimovian hairdo) is especially amusing because of the wacky homoerotic tenor in which blonde Adonis Tony rides to the cottage’s front door on his motorcyle, removes his shirt, unbuttons his belt, and composer Fernando Garcia Morcillo scores the montage with a loose bossa nova cue and cooing vocals.

Similar to Cannibal Man, de la Iglesias handles eroticism in contrasting decisive, subversive, and fluctuating waves: Tony’s arrival and fixation on Miguel’s bruised chest and nipple are starkly homoerotic, but his jealousy of Elisa’s attention towards Miguel in a bar seems to stem from potentially losing his money ticket than a outright attraction to Miguel.

De la Iglesia’s handling of erotic desires doesn’t render his play-like thriller into a disjointed oddity; it’s a collage that elevates a drama about double-crossing and manipulation with intriguing intersecting characters. Restricting graphic nudity to appease Spanish censors also forced the writer-director to focus on ostensibly two characters trying to figure each other out without violence; it’s a relationship that’s initially forced into being by Miguel, but it becomes more intriguing when the pair reach a neutral stance, unsure of where they can progress after the body’s been (sloppily) deep-sixed in the lake. They understand they’ve connected because of an outrageous event, but any belief they can carve out some normalcy is naïve, especially when other factors and truths are in play.

De la Iglesia closes his drama on a wry twist that’s more Mario Bava than Hitchcock; whereas the latter would wrap up his suspenseful adventure with a romantic closing and a dollop of optimism, Bava’s dark humour mandates perpetual torment, which is more satisfying in NOHTS, since de la Iglesia’s characters are selfish: Elisa pleases wealthy benefactors for security and exotic travel; Tony pleases Elisa for financial security; Miguel pleases mean wife Nuria (Maria Asquerino) to cover extra-marital indulgences; and in flashbacks, Nuria relishes the moments she torments her husband and his less than beautiful lover.

No One Heard the Scream (1973) is a strange little film, packed with bright colours, an attractive pair of mature stars (both Parra and Sevilla hail from much lighter 1960s fare), and camerawork and editing that’s either steady and precise, or disjointed and shaky. Add Fernando García Morcillo’s weird blend of Stelvio Cipriani-styled themes and extremely odd rock source cues with unintelligible lyrics, and you’ve got what genre historians brand as the Spanish giallo, a sub-genre that offers different interpretations of the formal Italian giallo that relies on outrageously convoluted (and / or ridiculous) plotting and twists, bloodied breasts, corrupt / sleazy cops, and an overwhelming amount of music written by or written in the style of Ennio Morricone.

Severin’s source print is quite gorgeous, with rich colours and details so sharp one can see the nuances of the actors’ makeup. The audio mix is balanced, although bass was oversaturated in the original mono mix.

To contextualize de la Iglesia’s film within the Spanish giallo, film scholar Dr. Andy Willis proves a solid intro and overview, but be forewarned there are clips from other genre entries which may have important spoilers – so watch with some caution. The featurette also excerpts generous moments of over-the-top gore which, like Cannibal Man, supports the sub-genre’s substitution of gore over graphic sex & nudity; apparently Spanish censors during the Franco era felt gouged eyeballs, repeatedly punctured torsos, slit throats, and bisected visages were fine as long as the perpetrators were arrested, killed, or committed the acts under a spell.

Willis also spotlights co-screenwriter Anotnio Fos, who co-penned Il tuo dolce corpo da uccidere (1970), Naked Girl Murdered in the Park (1972), Una vela para el diablo (1973), and for de la Iglesias, Cannibal Man (1972) and Murder in a Blue World (1973).

Beautiful co-star Carmen Sevilla also appeared in the shockers La cruz del diablo (1975) and de la Iglesias’ The Glass Ceiling (1971), the latter hopefully already in Severin’s cross-hairs. It would be a suitable addition to the label’s current de la Iglesias releases: Cannibal Man (1972), No One Heard the Scream (1973), and the Quinqui Collection, featuring Navajeros (1980), El Pico (1983), and El Pico 2 (1984).



© 2021 Mark R. Hasan





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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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