Other times characters are placed with their backs towards the camera. The mirror reflection shows us their face – where we can read their emotions - and brings them into the piece, and at the same time their true feelings can be projected.
Lurking in the background is a clear favorite composition of Umberto Lenzi’s. It’s featured in a majority of his movies, and I can’t help but think of the Medusa, who with her fatal stare, kills her victims as they turn to stone. The only way to avoid death was to look upon her reflection, which disarmed her lethal stare. One could see these mirror compositions as metaphors for the deadly gaze, as the people staring at each others reflections frequently have sinister motifs in their game of deception. Instead of talking directly to each other they talk via the mirror, or in the worst case not at all, it’s the all said through mimicry and body language reflected through the mirror.
Ironically, there is no reflection in the mirror of the blind Martha Caldwell [Carroll Baker again] in Il cotello di ghiaccio (Knife of Ice) 1972.
After the pre-gilli thrillers, Lenzi worked with D.P. Alfio Contini – know for his work on Lilliana Cavani on Il portiere di note (The Night Porter) 1974, Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point 1970, and awarded for his cinematography on the Antonioni/Wim Wenders co-production Beyond the Clouds 1995. Un posto ideale per uccidere (aka Oasis of Fear) 1971, tells the story of two youths, Dick Butler [Ray Lovelock] and Ingrid Sjöman [Ornella Mutti] who scam their was across the country peddling dirty photographs and sordid materials. By chance they come across the seemingly wealthy Barbara Slater [Irene Papas] who lives all alone in her huge mansion… a potential gold mine the two conartist can’t walk away from. With the theme of pornographic images and selling smut as one of the image systems of the movie, Lenzi uses the mirrors as a confirmation of the leading characters vanity. Almost every mirror is used for the lead characters to gaze upon themselves. The Greek myth of Narcissus comes to mind. Blinded by his own beauty he was completely unaware of his own pending doom, and walks right into his own demise. Just like Dick and Ingrid do in Oasis of Fear.
Off-screen secrets, nudity, tension builders and shocking reveals, almost every one of the areas discussed above come into play in Paranoia, and at times in several layers.
So there you have it, the mirror fetish of Umberto Lenzi, finally revealed and exposed … now it’s up to you to find the cracks that reflect his mind in the mirrors of his movies. I promise you that you will look and reflect upon Lenzi’s movies in a whole new way from now on.