D: Umberto Lenzi.
P: Ugo Tucci//St & Sc: Massimo Franciosa, Luisa Montagnana, Pino Boller, Umberto Lenzi//DP: Guglielmo Mancori//E: Eugenio Alabiso//M: Ennio Morricone//Art D: Giacomo Calo Carducci//Costumes: Silvia Laurenzi//Makeup: Antonio Mecacci Cast: Robert Hoffmann, Suzy Kendall, Ivan Rassimov, Maria Pia Conte, Adolfo Lastretti, Franco Silva, Mario Erpichini, Luigio Antonio Guaria, Rosita Tarosh, Monica Monet, Guido Alberti.
Lover boy Christian, meets and almost beds Barbara (Suzy Kendall), but is interrupted by an assassin. Christian "kills" him and they escape to a deserted chateau where they meet an odd couple Malcolm and Clarinda (the oddly attractive Maria Pia Conte). Before you know it, Christian admits to the killing and flees. At the same time, women are being murdered (offscreen) and near their bodies is found a plastic dummy, hanging from a tree with a knife in its belly. We finally learn that Christian and his brother Fritz (Ivan Rassimov, dubbed with a fey voice) inherited a huge business from their deceased father (he was mentally deranged and comitted suicide). It seems that Fritz has been trying to drive his brother insane to get him the medical help he needs. Unfortunately, he succeeds resulting in the death of Barbara and many others. Christian is killed by Barbara's lover as we discover that Fritz too, has begun to show tendencies of stabbing mannequins with a long knife.
The film is so convoluted and talky, that until you're able to follow all the twists and turns of the plot, you can't begin to appreciate all that Lenzi and his fellow screenwriters were trying to accomplish. For the first hour of this 90 minute sleeper, you will be as in the dark as the main character, Christian (Robert Hoffmann). For the American release of this film, George Romero filmed approximately 10 minutes of explicit violence to help spice up the film. The print reviewed here is obviously the original export version. Because we don't know who the murderer might be, none of the killings are shown when they occur (which runs counter to ALL other Gialli where you witness the murder sequence either as a participant or as a victim). While certainly original, I can see how that would pose a problem for the film's producer. There's no nudity to speak of either so Lenzi really left exploitation fans in the lurch. However, I find this all distinctly refreshing and would use this film to prove to fans disgusted by Lenzi's cannibal films, that the man really does know how to make an entertaining film that relies on plot and atmosphere alone. Morricone's score is among his best (comparable to the one he penned for WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO SOLANGE?).