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Italian theatrical release poster
Directed byUmberto Lenzi[1]
Written byUmberto Lenzi
Ugo Moretti
Marie Claire Sollenville[1]
Story byUmberto Lenzi
Produced bySalvatore Alabiso[1]
CinematographyGuglielmo Mancori[2]
Edited byEnzo Alabiso[1]
Music byPiero Umiliani[1][2]
  • Tritone Filmindustria
  • Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie
Release date
  • 7 February 1969 (1969-02-07) (Italy)
Running time
90 minutes[2]

Orgasmo is a 1969 giallo film starring Carroll Baker and Lou Castel and directed by Umberto Lenzi.[2] This film helped launch the second phase of Baker's career, during which she became a regular star in Italian productions.[3] Orgasmo was released in the USA under the title Paranoia.[4] It was one of the first films to carry an X rating in the United States under the newly-established Motion Picture Association film rating system.[5]


Following the death of her wealthy husband, American socialite Kathryn West seeks seclusion at an Italian villa rented by her lawyer, Brian Sanders. However, she soon becomes bored, and welcomes the sudden appearance of Peter Donovan, a young American student whose car has broken down near the villa. After Peter seduces the willing Kathryn in the shower, he brings his "sister" Eva into the household and initiates a series of nightly orgies in which Kathryn's sexual desires are stimulated by alcohol and drugs. As the debauchery progresses, Peter dismisses the servants and makes Kathryn his prisoner. The Italian print has an ending different from the international release version.[6]



Orgasmo was released in Italy on February 7, 1969.[2] The Italian version of Orgasmo has a different ending than the American version (Paranoia).[3] The film's title has led to confusion, for its USA release was retitled Paranoia.[7] Umberto Lenzi's next film (which also starred Carroll Baker) was released as Paranoia in Italy in 1970, but was retitled A Quiet Place to Kill for its USA release.[7]

Like other early giallo films, Orgasmo was not popular among Italian film audiences upon its initial theatrical release, as the genre never gained popularity in its home country until the release of Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) and The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971), but it was a major hit outside of Italy.[8] Orgasmo was released in France as Une folle envie d'aimer (lit.'A mad desire to love').[3]


From contemporary reviews, the Monthly Film Bulletin stated that "this high gloss melodrama rings enough changes on an old theme to keep one watching right up to the grisly retribution of the finale, even if the denouement is a trifle rushed".[9] The review concluded that "it might have been even more enjoyable - on its own low camp level - if Umberto Lenzi had not been so determined to match style to subject, with the camera deliriously sliding in and out of focus as the tormented lady totters down the stairs and every scene shot from behind a bit of the furniture."[9] Roger Ebert gave the film a negative review, stating that "Only the haunting memory of Succubus prevents me from naming [Orgasmo] as the worst movie of the year."[10]

From retrospective reviews, the online film database AllMovie gave Orgasmo one star, referring to it as less interesting than A Quiet Place to Kill and stating that "there are some interesting moments, but this is clearly the lesser of the two films."[11] Troy Howarth reviewed Orgasmo more favorably in So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, writing that "the film is a classic example of the so-called sexy giallo, with plenty of cool eroticism and a pleasantly 'mod' aesthetic." Howarth added that director Lenzi "displays a sure and steady hand in gradually unveiling the various plot twists".[12]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Credits". BFI Film & Television Database. London: British Film Institute. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Firsching, Robert. "Orgasmo (1968)". AllMovie. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Luther-Smith 1999, p. 86.
  4. ^ Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960–1980 (illustrated ed.). McFarland & Company. ISBN 0786448881.
  5. ^ Muller, Eddie and Faris, Daniel (1996). Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of "Adults Only" Cinema, 1996, p. 108. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0312146094.
  6. ^ "Paranoia". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Shipka 2011, p. 317.
  8. ^ Brizio-Skov 2011, p. 64.
  9. ^ a b "Orgasmo (Paranoia)". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 37, no. 432. British Film Institute. 1970. p. 15.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 20, 1969). "Paranoia". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  11. ^ Firsching, Robert. "Orgasmo (1968)". AllMovie. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  12. ^ Howarth, Troy (2011). So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films (Volume 1 1963-1973), 2015, p. 87. Midnight Marquee Press, Inc. ISBN 9781936168507.


  • Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960–1980 (illustrated ed.). McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786448883.
  • Brizio-Skov, Flavia (2011). Popular Italian Cinema: Culture and Politics in a Postwar Society. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1848855724.
  • Luther-Smith, Adrian (1999). Blood and Black Lace: The Definitive Guide to Italian Sex and Horror Movies. Stray Cat Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-9533261-1-X.

External links[edit]