Friday, 1 February 2013



What the cluck is going on? A baffling avant-garde arthouse movie disguised as a second-tier giallo (or possibly the other way around), set in the glamorous environs of the factory floor of a hi-tech chicken farm with one of the most unsettlingly inappropriate music scores imaginable and a you're-not-serious English title; it doesn't work for a moment but the bizarre fusion of rubbish dialogue, gloved maniacs, mad scientists, kinky sex and chickens makes for a genuinely unusual film nonetheless. Small wonder it's commercially unavailable in the UK; it's available as an import but it has never had a British release in any form, so don't go hunting for it round Cash Converters or Blockbusters. If chickens could make a film about human greed, lust and venality, this is probably what it would look like.

The cockamamie bonkersness of Death Laid An Egg begins with its gialloesque title and its offputting score. No groovy lounge music or bossa nova rhythms here: it's an experimental noise soundtrack consisting mainly of solo guitar or violin, not accompanying the visuals but by the sound of it just randomly playing whatever comes into the soloist's head. Most of the plot - in which perverted poultry farmer Jean-Louis Trintignant is torn between rich chicken magnate wife Gina Lollobrigida and hot secretary Ewa Aulin while seeking favour with The Association (the chicken trade organisation) - is melodramatic soup opera tosh that's mostly lacking in thrills and suspense and, crucially, an unseen homicidal maniac bumping off the rest of the cast. Meanwhile, the resident mad scientist has created a mutant superchicken that has small bones, lots of meat and no head!

It's a pity, but the jarring, awkward soundtrack, the vaguely comedic overtones of the machinations of the Chicken Marketing Board and the countless close-up shots of chickens (alektoraphobics beware) rather defuse the already minimal giallo content, while the tinges of sex and murder detract from the difficult arthouse feel of the rest of the film. It sort of wants to be two things at the same time and ends up not really succeeding at either. If nothing else, it's an intriguing curiosity with a little bit of leftie comment: the rich bastards either humping or plotting against each other while the poor peasantry, recently made redundant by advances in chicken farming technology, huddle defiantly together outside. Definitely an oddity.


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