|Rating: Really liked it
Director: Jorge Grau
Release Year: 1983
Starring: Assumpta Serna, Víctor Valverde, Luis Hostalot
Mauri: Don't screw around, because I'm tired of your bullshit, babydoll.
Here's a particuarly nasty slice of eurosleaze. Spanish cinema mainstay Assumpta Serna plays Adela, a passionate criminal defense lawyer. The movie opens with Adela making a closing argument in a murder trial, painting her murderous client as the true victim: "Imagine the horrid existence that would lead one human to kill another for a small sum of money." Not even the theft of her car or the murder of George, her husband, can shake her faith in humanity. But will her idealism hold out when her husband's killer, Mauri (Luis Hostalot), threatens Adela's children?
There's a great scene that reflects the two viewpoints presented in this movie. The police have arrested Mauri's brother and charged him with the murder. Adela knows that the brother wasn't even in the room when the murder occurred, and goes to tell the judge he's got the wrong man. But the judge just shrugs and says "So he may be innocent now. But he'll be guilty tomorrow if we are too lenient today." Adela replies "I need to believe that humanity is good. The day I believe that life is a hunting ground, life will lose all meaning for me."
Director Grau (Breakfast at the Manchester Morgue, AKA Let Sleeping Corpse Lie) has a knack for building suspense. Coto De Caza spends a considerable amount of time just observing the everyday lives of Adela's family: George teaches his son to hunt, Adela and George bicker over who will pick up his mother at the airport, Adela prepares for an upcoming trial... in fact, apart from the car being stolen, nothing much happens for the first 30-40 minutes. As a result, when Mauri and Adela finally crash, you care about the family.
The final scene is intensely hard to watch. Mauri, furious over his brother's incarceration, breaks into Adela's house on Christmas Eve. He and his gang drag the children into the living room and burn their Christmas presents in the fireplace. Mauri mocks George's death, then orders his men to strip Adela in front of the children. The rest of the home invasion sequence - including a horrific scene with a red-hot fireplace poker and a bottle of flammable liqueur - deserves the noteriety that similar scenes in movies like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer have. Genuinely terrifying stuff that'll have even the most peace-loving hippie screaming for revenge.
You can get a copy of Coto de Caza from Shocking Videos. For fans of violent European Trash, this flick is definitely worth checking out.