"Normally the murderer, after the homicidal rage, would surrender."
After police detective Nicola Levi (Leonardo Treviglio) has a vicious fight with his wife, Sara (Barbara Scoppa) he leaves their apartment to cool off, only to discover later that she has been murdered in his absence. It turns out that Sara's murder was committed in the style of notorious serial killer Franco Tribbo, who died in a mysterious fire years ago. Nicola's friend, criminal psychologist Anna Berardi (Valeria D'Obici), is eager to help – partly to aid her friend and partly because she has always been strangely fascinated by the Tribbo case. Did Franco Tribbo really die all those years ago? Or has his ghost returned to stalk the women of this quiet seaside village? Anna gets help from her graduate students at the local university as well as handsome Inspector Pietro Terzi (Paolo Malco). But as they get closer to the truth, the bodies keep piling up.
You'll Die at Midnight (not to be confused with Death Stalks at Midnight) is the work of director Lamberto Bava , the son of giallo pioneer Mario Bava and protegee of Dario Argento. The younger Bava is a perennial film student and in this movie he borrows or makes reference to a lot of other, better films. If you look closely, you can find references to Psycho, Four Flies on Gray Velvet, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, The Shining, Halloween, and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, just to name a few. And these references range from subtle use of props and locations to full-on shot-for-shot re-makes and brazenly copied plot elements. Which isn't to say that You'll Die at Midnight isn't effective. By 1986 the traditional giallo was dying away because audiences preferred the bloodier thrills of slasher flicks. I'd like to think that Lamberto was trying to make a slasher-like giallo full of these references, to remind people about all the classic films that inspired him.
- One of the many things Lamberto Bava borrows from Argento is Claudio Simonetti, Argento's longtime composer, who is sometimes credited along with his band, Goblin.
- The village is beautiful and I have to wonder where this movie was filmed. It's a bustling, youthful seaside town with a university and a large natural history museum, but it has the Medieval architecture of a tiny, ancient city. Be careful, though – the fog can roll in quickly and unexpectedly.
- None of the various titles make any sense. But then again, who would see a movie called You'll Die Around Mid-Afternoon Between Three and Five PM?
- Actually, the title may be a reference to the 1971 giallo The Man With Icy Eyes, in which Antonio Sabato and Barbara Bouchet receive threatening notes reading "You'll die at midnight."
During the fight with Sara, Nicola is stabbed in the shoulder with an ice pick, about two inches deep. We're talking serious muscle and nerve damage here and he just walks it off like it's nothing. A little gauze does the trick.
Clearly, Italian hospitals need better security, if anyone can walk in off the street and look up confidential patient files.
You know things are going to get good when Anna's three female grad students move into a large abandoned hotel to finish their thesis papers.
One of my favorite scenes was in the hotel kitchen. The killer attacks Monica (Eliann Miglio) with a knife and she fends him off with a hand mixer... until the cord pops out of the wall. You know that's how the circular saw scene from My Dear Killer should have gone.
Lamberto Bava loves to drop visual clues to the identity of the killer throughout the movie and You'll Die at Midnight has a prime example. Here's Nicola's apartment, the site of the first murder. Note the white decor with neon yellow accents:
Now here's an outfit Anna wears a few days later. Notice how her clothes tie her to the crime scene:
In fact, her outfits become darker and darker thoughout the film, but the yellow accents remain a constant motif: