Search This Blog

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Fourth Victim

Spain 1974

D: Eugenio Martin
P: Tritone Film Industria, Filmmayer Produccione, & Estudios Cinematograficos//St & Sc: Vicente Coello, Santiago Moncada, Sabatino Ciuffini//DP: Guglielmo Mancori//E: Enzo Alabiso//M: Piero Umiliani//Art D: Ramirez Gomez//Costumes: Giovanni Naitana//Makeup: Gianfranco Mecacci
Cast: Carroll Baker, Michael Craig, Marina Malfatti, Miranda Campa, Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez, Enzo Garinei, Philip Ross, Alberto Fernandez, Manuel Gallardo, Alberto Gonzales Espinosa.

Dr. Andersen's wife is found dead in their pool. It was his third wife to die under mysterious circumstances. When his housekeeper testifies that the late Mrs. Andersen had threatened suicide the night before her death, he is found "not guilty." He soon meets and falls in love with his neighbor, Julie Spencer, a beautiful blonde. She immediately starts to plan for their wedding and insists that the good doctor take out a large insurance policy on her life with him as the beneficiary. They get into a big fight and she disappears. The police explain that Ms Spencer is insane and killed her first husband. Meanwhile, a strange woman spies on Andersen and appears to be the key to the entire film's plot machinations, that is if he lives long enough to discover it.

You'll think you're watching an Umberto Lenzi film (and indeed, Carroll Baker and Michael Craig appeared together in Lenzi's THE KNIFE OF ICE) as the film unwinds.  The story is a rehash of so many Lenzi/Baker collaborations. Eugenio Martin was a prolific Spanish director who could either be very good (A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL) or very bad (BAD MAN'S RIVER). Here, he falls on the poor side of things as he does nothing to rescue the hackneyed plot. British actor Craig is suitably menacing at the beginning, but is soon the poor misunderstood husband as Baker begins acting suspiciously. Had the film retained a Bluebeard-like plot line, things would have been much more interesting. The score by Piero Umiliani is the only thing of positive note as it's definitely in the kitschy mood he created for Bava's FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON. Too bad the film takes itself so seriously.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Giallo Mix MP3

Enjoy almost 2 hours of music from Italian thrillers courtesy of OTTO RIVERS

7 Notte in Giallo

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Perfect Crime

Indagine Su Un Delitto Perfetto
Perfect Crime
Italy 1978
D: Aaron Leviathan (Giuseppe Rosati)
P: Ciat C.L.C.//St & Sc: Giuseppe Rosati//DP: Jerri Delaware//E: Frank Robertson//Music: Carlo Savina//Art D: Robert Frogs//Makeup: Gloria Gramati
Cast: Leonard Mann, Alida Valli, Anthony Steel, Janet Agren, Gloria Guida, Joseph Cotten, Paul Muller, Adolfo Celi, Franco Ressel, Antony Freeman, Elio Stefanizzi, Claudio Gora.

Industrialist Lord Selmer is killed in a mysterious plane crash and his successor is to be picked from among the board members. Practically overnight, they begin to die mysterious deaths. First, Paul is killed when the brakes on his car fail and he ends up going over the side of a mountain. Next, Arthur's pacemaker goes haywire, causing him to perform some impromptu surgery on his chest in a vain attempt to restart it. Too late as he dies from a heart attack. Just as we discover that Paul wasn't killed in the car wreck, Harold is shot at point blank range. The film ends as the murderer gets off scot free.

If you're a fan of this genre, look over the cast list and you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Too bad the film is nothing more than an average time waster, centered around corporate politics. It's not that the film is terrible, after all, Gloria Guida does get undressed quite often, just a waste of the talent involved. The corporate assassin dresses up in typical Giallo fashion, wearing black gloves and mask. The score by Carlo Savina is certainly prime stuff, very close to the style forged by Bruno Nicolai in the early seventies. Unfortunately the murders are not flamboyant enough to distinguish the film from any other typical murder mystery. Plot has overtaken style which is NOT the reason I watch these films.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Iguana with a Tongue of fire

D: Willy Pareto (Riccardo Freda)
P: Alfonso Donati for Oceani, Les Films Corona, & Terra Filmkunst//Sc: Riccardo Freda,Gunther Ebert, Alessandro Continenza, André Tranche//DP: Silvano Ippoliti//E: Riccardo Freda//M: Stelvio Cipriani//Art D: Chevalier Mifsuo//Costumes: Nadia Vitali//Makeup: Lamberto Marini

Cast: Luigi Pistilli, Dagmar Lassander, Anton Diffring, Valentina Cortese, Dominique Boschero, Werner Pochath, Renato Romano, Arthur O'Sullivan, Sergio Doria, Ruth Durley.

The disfigured body of a young woman is found in the trunk of Ambassador Sobiesky's automobile. Due to the delicate nature of the Ambassador's standing (and his refusal to cooperate), the police assign Inspector Norton to go undercover and strike up an affair with Sobiesky's daughter, Helen. Norton (who has a history of police brutality) discovers the Sobiesky clan has a few skeletons in their familial closet. There is a son who is ostracized from the family, a wife who so hates her husband, she threatens him at every opportunity, numerous mistresses, and disgruntled servants. All of these people appear to have a motive for wanting Sobiesky dead. More murders occur (using a vial of acid and straight razor as weapons), before it's revealed that there were actually two murderers: one who so hated the Ambassador that he wanted to kill everyone associated with him and two, another who used the activities of the real killer, to knock off people he no longer had any use for.

I know Riccardo Freda is respected as the first modern day Italian horror filmmaker, but quite frankly, I find a lot of that ground-breaking work so restricted by the moral climate of the time, to be boring. Freda's films from the seventies are much more suited to my sensibilities. IGUANA is an entertaining thriller and it has a decidedly nasty edge to it at every plot turn. The killings are quite graphic and mean-spirited and the nudity on display reveals plenty (especially featuring Pistilli's nymphet-like daughter). It's a real pleasure to see Luigi Pistilli get an opportunity to play the lead role for a change.It's a shame he became despondent in his later years and committed suicide. He gets to ride a motorcycle and even has a nice nude lovemaking sequence with Dagmar Lassander. The film also pokes fun at genre conventions when, after viewing the film, you realize Freda told us who the killer was, 30 minutes into the film! Cipriani's use of strings in the musical score appears to make everyone a suspect at one time or another. Finally, I had to laugh when it was revealed that Anton Diffring's decidedly Germanic Ambassador has his clothes cleaned at "Swastika Cleaners!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hyena Of London


In the 1880s, serial killer Martin Bauer is hung for his many crimes. Soon after, his body disappears from its grave and the murders begin again. Dr. Dalton is convinced Bauer is responsible. Henry Quinn, an irresponsible young man returns to be with his love, Muriel, the daughter of Dr. Dalton. Dalton's alcoholic assistant, Anthony Finney, is secretly in love with Muriel and sets up Quinn as a suspect in the recent killings. He's arrested, but the murders continue to occur. When Muriel is found murdered on the grounds near her estate, the film's shocking storyline reveals a surprising mix of incestuous desires and brain grafts involving the corpse of Martin Bauer.

This is an obscure, B&W Italian horror film that saw only a small theatrical release in Rome before disappearing to the small screen. Often confused as part of the German Edgar Wallace films made during the same time, THE HYENA OF LONDON is a competent shocker with a gloomy and effective atmosphere. The story centers on the doomed relationships all the characters are involved in. The death of Muriel definitely comes as a shock as rarely was the female romantic lead killed off! The film's director, Luigi Mangini, made a few other B&W crime films (also starring Tony Kendall) before vanishing into obscurity. Luciano Pigozzi (aka Alan Collins), a familiar face to Italian horror films, has a small part as the doctor's manservant. It's interesting to note that all the female victim's of the killer are found with their dresses pulled up, suggesting they were raped too. A subtle reminder that Europeans had no qualms with going beyond the taboos of the time period.