Film4 Frightfest the 13th - Day 3
#12 - Tulpa
rating: 2No film at Frightfest so far has attracted such a bizarre audience reaction as Federico Zampaglione's Tulpa, a film so irredeemably misguided in its intent that it is a rare case of a knowing audience elevating a dreadful film, transforming it from a vapid navel-gazer into quite possibly the most riotously entertaining flop this side of Tommy Wiseau's The Room. Lisa Boeri (Claudia Gerini) is a business executive at the top of her game, but at night, she visits a seedy sex club called Tulpa, where she engages in all manner of carnal desires. However, when her various lovers start turning up dead, she has to uncover the identity of the killer herself because, of course, it's not worth losing her job over if her superiors knew what she got up to at night... Tulpa does admittedly begin promisingly, and Zampaglione deserves credit for concocting a visually lavish film that helps keep it more interesting than it otherwise would be. After the opening murder sequence, however, things quickly begin to deteriorate, as the Italian performers are forced to try and act in English, which is then horrifically, hilariously dubbed over. Michela Cescon, playing Lisa's friend Joanna, suffers the brunt of the embarrassment; though her physical performance is itself hammy and exaggerated, it is the gut-bustingly funny dub - in a posher-than-posh English accent - that provides a good number of the film's belly laughs. Of course, the script itself does these actors no favours; how can you not laugh at lines like "I don't know much about him...except that he's a hermaphrodite". The Empire in Leicester Square was a strange, electrifying place to be on Saturday night. The audience laughed their way through this shockingly self-serious, unintentionally hilarious riot of a film, which while gorgeously shot and sexy to a point, is also overlong and impossible to regard in the grand tradition of Giallo filmmaking. If Tommy Wiseau were to ever have a go at making a Giallo film, it would probably end up something like this. That is to say, as a film almost exempt from applying an arbitrary review score to - but we've done it anyway - Tulpa is a horrible film at what it attempts to be, but a massively entertaining one for what it actually is.