"Nobody does anything without a reason. What was yours?"
Franco Serpieri (George Lazenby) is a famous sculptor living in Venice who has to put his swinging personal life on hold when his young daughter Roberta (Nicoletta Elmi) comes for a visit. One night, while Franco is distracted by a lady friend, Roberta is kidnapped and later found dead, leaving Franco and his estranged wife Elizabeth (Anita Strindberg) distraught. In his grief, Franco pursues the killer, only to uncover a sordid web of drugs, sex, and blackmail. Could the killer be someone from his circle of friends? Or perhaps it's the ironically-named Bonaiuti (José Quaglio), a rich and secretive libertine with decadent tastes? And what is the connection to similar murders that occurred years before? As more people involved in the mystery are murdered, Franco must race to find the killer.
Who Saw Her Die? isn't a great giallo, but the shadowy, misty Venetian setting adds atmosphere that does a lot of the heavy lifting. Ennio Morricone's score, characterized by a sinister childrens' chorus, also adds to the creepy factor. Despite all the atmosphere, the movie winds up with a highly unsatisfying ending which doesn't adequately tie up all the loose ends and offers no motive for most of the murders. There's also a little twist tacked on as an obvious afterthought. Possibly the result of angry test audiences.
- It's impossible not to make connections between Who Saw Her Die? and Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now, which came out a year later. Both feature a foreign couple in Venice mourning the death of a small child while a murderer strikes nearby and both include weird, emotional grownup scenes.
- Similarities to Antonio Bido's 1977 giallo The Bloodstained Shadow are also notable: a Venetian setting, an artistic main character, an aristocratic pedophile, and a killer in the same profession who ends up with the exact same fate.
- Child actress Nicoletta Elmi may look familiar to you. She played a psycho kid in Mario Bava's Bay of Blood and would go on to play another psycho kid in Dario Argento's Deep Red. She was also Ingrid the sinister usherette in Lamberto Bava's horror movie Demons. She has a great creepy smile and you just don't know what's going on behind those eyes.
- If you know Australian actor George Lazenby for his most famous role as clean-cut James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, it's shocking to see him here as a lean and lanky artist with long hair, a scraggly mustache, and sideburns.
- Speaking of James Bond, you may recognize Adolfo Celi (the also-ironically named Serafian) as Largo in Thunderball.
- One of the murders listed in the body count above occurs off-screen, after the prologue and two years prior to the main action.
There's a strange scene where Franco questions a reclusive weirdo over a game of ping pong. The game is meant to liven up the long-winded but necessary exposition. It's exactly the sort of thing you'd see in an Argento film.
Franco gives 8-year-old Roberta wine with dinner. Between that and losing her on the streets, this guy is not in the running for Father Of the Year.
The creepy, gleeful look on Elizabeth's face when the killer is set on fire and jumps out a window is as haunting as the death itself.
If you know anything about giallo movies, you'll be able to guess the identity of the killer within 12 minutes.
The movie takes place in the world of jet-setting artists and Ginerva (Dominique Boschero) is clearly the most fashionable character. A chilly autumn in Venice? Time to break out the miniskirts. I especially love her cool "handshake" belt buckle.
That belt buckle was used as a stylistic reference point in the 2009 giallo homage Amer.