Un Delitto Poco Commune
Sales Title: Off Balance
US Video Title: Phantom of Death
D: Ruggero Deodato
P: Pietro Innocenzi for Globe Films (P Manager: Giuliano Piermarioli) in association with Reteitalia, Tandem Cinematografica, DMV Distribuzione//St & Sc: Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino, Gigiola Battaglini//DP: Giorgio Di Battista//E: Daniele Alabiso//M: Pino Donaggio//Art D: Paolo Innocenzi// Costumes: Giovanna Deodato//Makeup: Fabrizio Sforza//Color
Cast: Michael York, Edwige Fenech, Donald Pleasence, Mapi Galon, Fabio Sartor, Renato Cortesi, Antonella Ponziani, Carola Stagnaro, Daniel Brado, Caterina Boratto.
Elena Martell is hosting a party where piano maestro Robert Dominici performs his newest composition. Later that evening, his girlfriend Susanna tries to pressure him into marriage, something Dominici wants nothing to do with. In anger, Susanna has sex with a friend but regrets her actions and decides to reconcile with Robert. While waiting for a train, she is brutally attacked and pushed through a pane-glass window. Elena comes to comfort Robert and they end up having sex. Robert, while still grieving for Susanna begins to notice that he's prematurely aging as his hair is falling out and his teeth are starting to rot. He discovers he has a rare disease called progeria and goes into hiding. When he hears that Elena is pregnant, he makes plans to kill her so the baby won't suffer the way he has. He attacks her, but is scared off before he can inflict a fatal wound. The police inspector suspects she was attacked by Robert, but her description of the attacker as being 50-60 years old, has him confused. Robert continues to kill people associated with his past (including a hooker who was his first sexual experience) and also plans to end Elena's life and pregnancy.
Ruggero Deodato's efforts in the eighties reveal a very slick, action propelled director who, under different circumstances, could have made the move to Hollywood-style filmmaking quite effortlessly. His films feature razor-sharp cinematography, actors such as Fenech and York who represent rich beautiful people who suffer the most horrible fates, and lush, symphonic musical scores that all add up to glossy entertainment. It's good to see Edwige Fenech play a sympathetic heroine for a change and the fact that she dubs her own voice makes her performance all the better. York is a sympathetic monster who can't help the changes that are taking over his body and mind. The problem is that since he is aging quite rapidly, he quickly becomes a non-threatening killer. Three cameos to watch and listen for are: Deodato, who plays a guy waiting for a motorcycle ride right before Susanna is killed, John Morghen as a priest visited by York, and the voice of William Berger used for one of the police scientist working with Donald Pleasance. The makeup on York by Fabrizio Sforza is very good for an Italian production.