Oasis of Fear (1971)


Director: Umberto Lenzi.
Starring:Irene Papas, Ornella Muti, Ray Lovelock. Italy. 1h 30m.

What a chance find in CEX helps me find one of the missing items from my Shameless collection, they can’t be all that bad right!?

A couple of hippies are bumming around creating an artistic mayhem until they get caught at a gas station for trying to sell porn photos, they go on the run but soon run out of petrol. Luckily for them, they are near a lush house and grounds (the Oasis) and try their luck at the house, initially all they discover is a frightened woman awaiting the arrival of her husband but what other secrets are locked away in this house!? The hippy couple are used to having the upper hand and out numbering the fragile woman they try to befriend her while also trying to rip her off. But gradually she starts showing her true colours and can play them at their own game, be it fueled with erotica or intense conversation she’s quite a vixen and a cat and mouse games unravels everyone’s plans.

Ingrid (Irene Papas) looked ravishing her role as the dark and sultry house wife, coming across convincingly as both the scared woman and femme fatale and looking like she just got chucked in set from a Spaghetti Western, the younger actors did what hey could to keep up with her amazing screen presence but mostly tried to out dazzle her with their good looks. They don’t appear to be total amateurs but with such a small cast it’s hard not to notice the differences.

The film is quite rich and colourful which keeps it within the vein of lavish Giallo films, it’s on the fringe when the story is concerned, there is murder and beautiful women but it’s not a slasher and the violence is mostly threats, it’s like the early stages of House at the Edge of the Park (1980) but doesn’t progress past some sassiness and bravado. The hippy couple were quite flirtatious and managed to find some brilliant costumes, Ingrid (Ornella Muti) dressing up as a belly dancer and the iconic union jacket her lover Dick (Ray Lovelock) wears makes the movie poster all that much daring although her costumes in Flash Gordon (1980) after she has dropped some of her puppy fat were much more lavish and appealing.

The house is pretty impressive, and the filming often makes it seem huge and expansive, there are lots of odd ceiling views that dwarf the characters and show off the rich lifestyle of the owners. The clash of lifestyles is both admired and scorned.

It’s interesting to see the ideas of free love melt into jealousy and the wife transforms into widow and in the vivid textures of this thriller everyone loses their mind temporarily. The hardest character to unravel is ??? she’s so uptight and changes her mood and story constantly, it’s quite often to see a woman play the field in this wy in Giallo, especially ?? () in The Night Train Murders (1975), when she plays the innocent card to save her own skin.

There’s much intrigue going on within the winged eyeliner and swinging hips, Lenzi is no coward when it comes to showing violent acts but he really reigned it in here as the aim wasn’t to shock with blood and guts. this is much more psychological a creeping fear that lies behind a smile.




Rating 6/10

RThe Night Train Murders (1975), House at the Edge of the Park (1980),
L – A-Z of Giallo, Hippies, Home Invasion Films, A Corpse in the Trunk,
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