The Eroticist (1972)

The words “Lucio Fulci” and “sex comedy” used together in the same sentence probably conjures up a number of horrible visions, but fortunately the reality of this particular film is somewhat less ghastly. It originally revelled in an Italian title which translates to something like The Senator Likes Women (Appearances Notwithstanding… and Provided the Nation Doesn’t Know), and which is a bit more descriptive of the film. Lando Buzzanca is the titular senator, Giacinto Puppis, the presidential contender who’s been more or less raised by the Catholic church, and who treats politics like the priesthood and lives a life of rigorous celibacy that naturally leads people to assume he’s gay. But the church’s attempts to instil him with a loathing of women haven’t completely worked. He still likes them in part… said part being their backsides. He’s got a thing for the female arse, the sort of thing that could hinder his political ambitions, and, more problematically, the ambitions of the cardinal backing him. A more forward-thinking Dominican friend sends him to a fellow priest’s convent, where he winds up receiving, if you’ll pardon the phrase, a 21 nun salute that only complicates things. What makes this somewhat less gormless and more palatable than you might expect from such a description is a combination of Buzzanca’s very careful playing in the lead and the political background of the story. Apparently Puppis was based on a particular figure in early 70s Italian politics, though the specifics will be lost on most viewers now (probably even on Italian ones); however the broader point Fulci evidently wanted to make about the damage wrought by the church, both on the personal level (turning Puppis into something of a frustrated freak) and the political (interfering with the process in collusion with the mafia), is perfectly clear and, sadly, probably universally applicable. The film didn’t make Fulci many friends at the time, and it’s probably a fair bit longer than it really needed to be, but it’s an interesting look at another side of him that’s been dwarfed by his gialli and zombie films…


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