(Directed by Lamberto Bava)

Plot: An adulterous woman loses her son and love in the same day. After being released from a mental hospital, she moves into a boarding house in New Orleans and her blind landlord begins to suspect she may have a dirty secret. She might be into necrophilia. Also known as “Macabro”.


This is Lamberto Bava’s first directing credit that he did solo(He co-directed “Shock” with his dad, Mario Bava). Oddly, this film was made the same year Mario Bava died. I’m sure this intrigued many horror fans, as Lamberto might be Mario’s successor as the big horror film maker. Sadly, this was not to be the case. Lamberto only directed one film that people tend to remember, which is “Demons”. It blended Mario’s color palette style with annoying techno crap that became popular in mid-late eighties horror. I have to wonder what Mario would’ve thought of his sons movies. He wasn’t a fan of nudity or gore, so I imagine he wouldn’t be too thrilled with Lamberto, as “Demons” is VERY gory. I had mixed thoughts on “Demons”, and I have mixed thoughts on “Macabre”, which just isn’t macabre enough.

The movie deals with necrophilia. Actually, this isn’t completely true. It deals with possible necrophilia. You don’t really know until later in the movie, so I’d avoid reading descriptions about this(netflix kind of spoils it). In truth, you don’t really know what’s going on throughout the movie. Is she committing necrophilia, having an affair with her dead lovers ghost or is she just in denial about his death and is imagining his presence? Unfortunately, to me the answer was obvious. It takes way too long answering an obvious question, which is probably the movies most annoying drawback.

Oddly, the film claims it’s based on a true story. I don’t know how true it is, but I’d be interested to find out. We begin with Jane, a wife and mother of two. Unfortunately, she isn’t a very good wife or mother. When her husband is away, she goes to meet with Fred and has an affair with him. Fred isn’t a very good looking guy, which makes this sort of baffling. However, he isn’t portrayed in a negative light, which is kind of shocking. When she leaves, she neglects her children. Unfortunately, her daughter is even more messed up than she is. Her daughter, who is very intelligent, figures out what her mother is doing and drowns her own brother just to get Mommy’s attention. When Jane finds out, she and Fred quickly drive to her home. Unfortunately, Fred gets distracted while driving and they hit a curb. Fred is killed in the process. Skip to a year later, and Jane has been released from a mental hospital. She moves into the boarding house, where the subplots begin. Robert, the blind owner of the place, seems to be in love with her. Furthermore, Jane is reluctantly reacquainted with her daughter, who is intent on getting her back together with her ex-husband. What follows is just sexual tension and ambiguity.

The first thing I noticed was that there is barely enough material to make a full feature movie. Yes, the concept of possible necrophilia is intriguing and twisted, but how do you drag that out for an hour and a half? Well, they make this into a character understudy. Most of the screen time has lots of sexual tension, between Jane and…well, apparently her dead lover, as well as between her and Robert. Then there is flat out tension between her and her daughter. Robert becomes suspicious so begins to investigate the death of Fred, and upon learning that Freds head is missing, begins to think that Jane has kept it. It goes on a bit too long, making the whole thing feel a bit bloated.

Even though sexuality and necrophilia are major themes here, this is far from being a soft-core porno. Although the music during the opening credits can lead you to think this way, the movie simply focuses on its characters and the big question. The characters are surprisingly well written. Jane is an adulteress, which is always kind of hard to redeem in cinema. But her obsessive passion for Fred and her guilt for her son makes her into something pitiful. You really can’t help but feel bad for her. Robert is in love with her, and arguably is the true main character, as a lot of the story focuses on him trying to find the truth. At first, I thought he was just kind of weird, but he grew on me and became very likable. Lucy, the daughter, is quite an evil little girl. Thankfully, this movie isn’t like “Impulse” or “Sweet House of Horrors”, in that the evil kid isn’t meant to be a protagonist. She is ultimately the true villain, so we can hate her anyway. Every scene she appears somehow turns nerve wracking just because she’s there.

I’m actually surprised that Lamberto didn’t try to copy Mario. You see Mario’s style present in “Demons”, but not here. Lamberto does a good job. He throws us some great cinematography(the cemetery), and keeps the tension high. He does offer us some creepy shots(the POV bit) and the mysterious deep breathing is quite scary. He handles the suspense well, and it’s pretty nail biting near the end. The score, for the most part, is good. The harmonica bit was very Morricone, and it was quite haunting in its own way. I also liked how it was edited. The death of the son was very interesting, as it was cut in with scenes of Jane having sex. Basically, it’s a way of saying that because the mother is doing this, this death is happening.

The ending left mixed impressions on me. On one hand, it was quite unnerving and definitely shocking. On the other, it’s kind of silly. So while “Macabre” failed to excite me, I do admire it for its boldness. It’s both ingenious and idiotic, boring and interesting, shocking yet not very exploitive. Lamberto Bava reaches far, but doesn’t exactly grab a hold of much.

Bernice Stegers(Jane) had a difficult role to tackle and mostly nails it. She carries the movie admirably. Stanko Molnar(Robert) shows lots of range and if he was a lesser actor, the character probably wouldn’t work. Veronica Zinny(Lucy) is pretty unnerving as the kid. The acting is surprisingly good, although the dubbing doesn’t always work.

Violence: Some grisly moments.

Nudity: Stegers shows it all throughout the movie and there is one sex scene. You hear a lot more though.

Overall: “Macabre” definitely went out of its way to be a taboo breaker, but it was ultimately overlong. Lamberto shows a lot of skill, but it deserves to be in a better movie. I’d recommend this to anyone who thought this review was interesting. But if it sounds boring to you, I’d avoid it.

2.5/4 Stars

my reviews of martial arts and horror films


this film was very good, like you said, he took a short story and became a full lenght movie with several well develoment characters and one piece of intriguing story. kudos for the good acting of the leads too!