Murder Near Perfect



Murder Near Perfect

"Mystére, remember - play it cool."

The day after a German man named Reinhardt (Peter Berling) snaps photos of a political assassination at the Piazza di Spagna, he hires two prostitutes - bubbly blonde Pamela (Janet Agren) and French vamp Mystére (Carole Bouquet) - for some late-night entertainment. Pamela steals Reinhardt's gold cigarette lighter and drops it into Mystére's handbag, not knowing that it contains the incriminating negatives of the killing. But she soon discovers that a dapper stranger in white spats, armed with a bladed cane is willing to kill to get it back. With people dying around her, Mystére reluctantly turns to American police Inspector Colt (Phil Coccioletti) for help. Can she trust this detective who seems immune to her charms? Can they figure out what the killer wants and outsmart their assailants? And who is the man in the white spats?

Murder Near Perfect (which is equally well-known as Mystére and is sometimes known as Dagger Eyes) is a fascinating later giallo that incorporates elements of an espionage thriller. Carole Bouquet is no stranger to this world, having appeared in For Your Eyes Only just a few years before. Despite some logic problems and plot holes, this movie has a fast, exciting pace, good moments of suspense and some well-played mis-directs. I was shocked when the killer was revealed halfway through the film, but then pleasantly surprised to find that there was another mastermind behind the assassination plot.

  • This is a movie about a prostitute but features absolutely no nudity.
  • In a nod do Dario Argento's Deep Red and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Mystére keeps flashing back to the last time she saw Pamela, sure that she was forgetting an important clue.
  • Setting the beginning of the movie at the Spanish Steps might be a reference to the first giallo, Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much.
  • The assassination in the prologue plays out exactly like the JFK assassination, with a motorcade, an open car, a crowd on the street, shots ringing out - back and to the left! - and a shadowy figure in a high window as the security agents scramble into action.
  • It should be noted that in real life cars aren't allowed at the Spanish steps.
  • There's a montage of Mystére putting on her makeup before going to work, like she's putting on armor to protect herself from the world. It's reminiscent of a similar scene with Jennifer Connelly in Requiem for a Dream.
  • The title Murder Near Perfect bears no relation to the movie, but both of the alternate titles are far more apt.

What the Hell Am I Watching? 

 Mystére is a high-end prostitute who charges thousands of dollars per night, drives a sleek sports car and has a killer wardrobe. So why does she work the corner like a common hooker?

For her first job of the night, an old man pays Mystére $1000 to undress, touch his wife's shoulder for five seconds and then leave. It is an incomprehensible scene.

When the killer breaks into her apartment, Mystére defends herself with a bullwhip which, luckily, she had lying around.

Fashion Moment

For the first half of the movie, Mystére wears black and white exclusively, with an occasional pop of red. With her long dark hair and porcelain complexion, she's giving off serious Morticia Addams realness. Check out these webbed sleeves.


The black and white color scheme reflects her simple worldview - she lives a straightforward life where everyone is upfront about what they want and what they're willing to give in exchange. But when things get a little complicated, we see some shades of gray enter her wardrobe.


When she finds herself  for the first time in real danger, she is seen in this bold yellow dress. Outwardly, she may appear confident, but she's really hiding her anxiety. Remember that in Italy yellow (or, in Italian, "giallo") is the color of fear.


At the airport, Mystére thinks she's found love and is ready to settle down. We see her in this retro conservative red polka dot dress with a plunging neckline, like a slutty Donna Reed. As in America, red is the color of love.


But when she realizes that she's been double-crossed, Mystére gets her game face on and goes after what she's owed in this jewel-toned green gown. Green - the color of envy and the color of money.



The Killer Wore Gloves



The Killer Wore Gloves

"Did Michael speak to you? He's in danger - why don't you believe me?"

London artist Peggy (Gillian Hills) is worried about her boyfriend Michael - he's a reporter who has been covering the Vietnam war and has been out of contact for four months. In Michael's absence, Peggy rents the upstairs loft of her apartment to a friend of a friend named John Kirk Lawford. When she receives a mysterious phone call from Michael telling her to meet him at an abandoned airplane hanger, Peggy is nearly murdered by a gloved assassin and when she returns home, she finds that her new tenant is dead, having fallen from her upper-floor balcony.  Things get even stranger when another man appears at Peggy's door, claiming to be the real John Kirk Lawford. Who wants Peggy dead? Where is Michael? Which is the real John Kirk Lawford? And why is there a suitcase full of money stashed in Peggy's hamper?

The Killer Wore Gloves is trashy fun in the classic style of Death Walks at Midnight and The Case of the Bloody Iris, featuring a mix of sex, blood, suspense and a variety of creative kills. The plot, with its double-identity hook, is really ingenious and is based on the novel Juan a las Ocho, Pablo a las Diaz by Luisa Maria de Linare, unfolding at a quick pace with plenty of suspects and victims on hand to keep things interesting.
  • The original Spanish title of this movie is La Muerte Llama a las Diez, or The Killer Calls at Ten (though he never does). In Italy it's called Le Calde Labbra del Carnefice, which translates as The Hot Lips of the Executioner.
  • If Gillian Hills looks familiar, you may recognize her from A Clockwork Orange, Michaelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up, or as Glenda Kelly on TV's Dallas.
  •  Bruno Corrazari is no stranger to gialli, having appeared in Blade of the Ripper, Seven Bloodstained Orchids and Puzzle.
  • You'll notice that I did not check "Gay character" in the checkboxes above. Yes, Peggy's upstairs neighbor, Mr. Lewis (Carlos Otero), is a hypersensitive single musician who dotes on his cat, swans around his apartment and wears tight sparkly shirts, but did you see the way he leers at Peggy? Please feel free to disagree.
  • All the men in Peggy's life are real scumbags. Her client, Ronald (Stelio Candelli) openly offers her money for sex, the first John Lawford and Mr. Lewis leer at her, and it turns out that Michael isn't the catch he appears to be.
What the Hell am I Watching?

The one animal killed is the rabbit that the landlord caught and skinned. Where, one might ask, does someone catch a rabbit in the heart of Europe's largest city?

I suppose the craziest thing about this movie is that at every single opportunity, Peggy refuses to tell anyone what's going on in her life and seek help, and it's never clear why.  She's lured to the hangar and shot at and never tells anyone about it. The police ask about the dead man who fell from her balcony and she denies meeting him. She starts into a police station but chickens out on the front steps. Why? What's keeping her from getting the authorities involved?

Fashion Moment

When we first meet Peggy, she's running around town this two-piece leather maxi dress. Even with the decorative venting, it must be incredibly hot to wear.


Later, she shows up in this hilarious Sonny Bono-style jacket with fluffy wool vest and gauntlets.


Here's Peggy's apartment in all its eclectic glory.  It's a fun mix of modern and vintage pieces and I like the colors. I think that giant egg cup is some sort of table lamp.


Finally, this is what passes as appropriate office attire in 1974:



Crazy Desires of a Murderer



Crazy Desires of a Murderer

"Truth is certainly better than deception."
After a trip abroad, Ileana (Isabelle Marchall) returns home to Italy with her friends to the family castle and her ailing father, the Baron di Chablais (Roberto Zattini). During a fun evening of dancing and charades, it becomes clear that Ileana's friends share a complex history of relationships, debts and varying levels of mistrust. But when party girl Elsa (Patrizia Gori) turns up dead with her eyeballs gouged out, everyone is a suspect and it's up to the Inspector (Corado Gaipa) to sort the truth from the lies. Could the killer be Pier-Luigi, who is being hounded by the mafia or Berta, the sour-faced maid? Or perhaps it's Ileana's secret half brother Leandro, driven insane by a childhood trauma, who hides in the castle's catacombs embalming animals?  The inspector must use all of his wits to find the killer!

Much like A White Dress for Marialé, Maniac Mansion, Five Dolls for an August Moon and Nine Guests for a Crime, Crazy Desires of a Murderer finds its roots in old-fashioned locked room Gothic murder mysteries. This one takes a few breaks for grownup scenes - it comes to us from the writer of the Emanuelle series of erotica movies, after all - and features a Colombo-like detective whose trademark is a cane and limp. The film is well-paced and repeatedly throws suspicion from one character to another, so just when you think you have the killer's identity figured out, you may start to doubt yourself.
  • The fourth murder listed above is actually a flashback that occurs before the main action of the movie starts.
  • Leandro's room in the catacombs is filled with taxidermied animals, but the only animal death I listed above is the rabbit he was shown taking apart near the beginning of the movie.
  • The title does make sense, but it's really generic. Just about any giallo movie could have been called Crazy Desires of a Murderer. But the original Italian title is one of the worst in the genre, as it gives away way too much of the plot.
  • There's a big emphasis on eyes in this movie. Lots of dramatic close-ups of eyes, shots of peeping toms spying and, of course, the killer gouges out eyeballs. I'd like to think it's all in homage to Lucio Fulci, who has a similar obsession with eyes in his movies.
What the Hell am I Watching?

At the beginning of the movie, Pier-Luigi is kidnapped, driven to a remote barn and then politely asks the mafia enforcers to give him two more days to come up with the money he owes. And after all that trouble, they let him go. I imagine it must have been an awkward drive back to his car in the city.

There's a scene where the house guests play sexy charades. Basically, they just undress and grope each other while the other guests shout movie titles, until they stumble across the one that's correct. It's a weird scene.

Fashion Moment


For a bunch of rich kids, this group has terrible fashion sense. Bobby wears this tight yellow turtleneck throughout the film, making me suspicious of him the whole time. Pier-Luigi sports this loud and distracting purple plaid jacket and an Eric Estrada hairdo. And you can't see it in this shot, but the Inspector's tie is always about four inches too short, accentuating his paunch.

Obsession: A Taste for Fear



Obsession: a Taste for Fear

"Are knives standard in the bondage game?"

Diane (Virginia Hay) is a high-powered high-tech bisexual photographer who gets what she wants in the bedroom as well as in the studio. But when her model and lover, Tegan (Tegan Morrison) turns up dead, she has to stay a step ahead of Lieutenant Arnold (Dario Parisini) to protect her ex-husband, Georges (Gérard Darmon), who is the main suspect.  Soon, other people close to Diane are killed in the same way - bound in ropes and then stabbed, like a kinky encounter gone wrong. Can Diane find the real killer before Lieutenant Arnold closes in on Georges? And who will be the next to die in this wicked game of cat and mouse?

Obsession: a Taste for Fear definitely falls under the category of "sexy" giallo, with more gratuitous nudity and steamy scenes that any two other gialli combined. This movie is writer/director Piccio Raffianini's only credit - he never made another film before or since - but he seems to know his stuff, turning in a script with all the rhythms of a classic giallo and camera work throughout that pays homage to Dario Argento's Susperia, flooding each frame with deeply saturated color.

  • You may know Australian actress Virginia Hay from her role in The Road Warrior, as a Bond girl in The Living Daylights, or as sexy blue alien Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan on TV's Farscape.
  • The original Italian title, Pathos: Segreta Inquietudine translates roughly as Passion: Secret Anxiety. It's also sometimes called Pathos: Un Sapore di Paura, which literally translates as A Taste for Fear.
  • The score by Gabrielle Ducros is a glorious late-80's fever dream of 808 beats, synthesized new-age panflutes and Lethal Weapon-style sax solos.
  • There's a sly little homage to Michaelangelo Antonioni's1966 film Blow-Up, which was a touchstone for Argento's early films. Just like David Hemming's character in the mod classic, Diane gets frustrated during a photo shoot and tells her models to close their eyes and hold their poses, as she walks out of the building with no plans to return.

What the Hell am I Watching?

Near the very beginning of the movie, Georges takes Diane to a nightclub right out of a Stefon sketch from Saturday Night Live. This club has everything: little people ballroom dancers, a female bodybuilder, mirrors covered with cocaine, and a live band that plays New Jack Swing covers of George Gershwin songs.

Twice during the movie, scene transitions are made with a star-wipe, the cheapest and stupidest looking edit ever devised and one that has no place in a professionally-made film.

During the investigation, Lt. Arnold gets out of his car and is nearly run over by a speeding van. He draws his gun and fires what appears to be a laser blast. Where did that come from? Police have laser guns now? Are we in the future?

The movie never makes it clear what kind of photographer Diane is, exactly. She's not a fashion photographer, because her models almost never wear clothes. I suppose what she does could be considered high-end artistic erotica, but for what market? Calendars? Framed art prints?

Fashion Moment

When the characters do eventually get dressed, it's not often in something notable - or visible with all the high-contrast lighting effects.  But there seems to be a motif throughout the movie of crazy fashion eyewear. Here's Tegan, sporting some retro checkered shades.


Kim wears these strange sunglasses with matte lenses


Diane keeps it classic with black Ray Bans


And here's Georges in his Dwayne Wayne flip-ups (which he wears like an eye patch at one point).



Let's also have a look at the beautiful cinematography. It's a lot darker than Argento's use of color, but has the same disorienting, ultra-saturated effect.





Ciao e Grazie!

Well, it's finally happened. After nearly two years of recapping the bloody thrills of the giallo genre, I've finally run out of movies.

98 posts – I would have loved to write just two more to make it an even hundred or, even better, six more to end the project on Halloween Eve, exactly two years from when we started the journey, but the movies have been harder and harder to find and my sources have run dry.  Not that there aren't a lot more out there - I count over 40 titles that I'd love to review, but can't find in their entirety either dubbed or subtitled in English (my Italian is okay, but it would take four hours of pausing and rewinding to fully comprehend a 90-minute movie).

If I do come across one of the missing titles, I'll be sure to add a new entry, but this marks the end of the regular Thursday posts. Here's a chronological wishlist of obscure gialli:

The Hyena of London (1964)
A for Assassin (1966)
The Killer Without a Face (1967)
Double Face (a.k.a. Liz & Helen) (1969)
Your Sweet Body to Murder (1970)
Marta (1971)
The Glass Ceiling (1971)
Tropic of Cancer (1972)
The Two Faces of Fear (1972)
The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive (1973)
Love and Death on the Edge of a Razor (1973)
No One Heard the Scream ( 1973)
Clap... You're Dead (1974)
Five Women for the Killer (1974)
All the Screams of Silence (1974)
The Fish with the Gold Eyes (1974)
The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (1974)
The Hot Lips of the Killer (a.k.a. The Killer Wore Gloves) (1974)
The Killer with a Thousand Eyes (1974)
The Killer is One of Thirteen (1974)
Vice Wears Black Hose (a.k.a. Reflections in Black) (1975)
Evil Eye (1975)
Plot of Fear (1976)
Crazy Desires of a Murderer (1977)
The Monster (1977)
The Perfect Crime (1978)
Carnal Crime (1982)
Murder Near Perfect (1983)
Formula for a Murder (1985)
The House of Good Returns (1986)
The Killer has Returned (1986)
The Monster of Florence (1986)
Obsession: A Taste for Fear (1988)
Murder in Blue Light (1991)
Crime of Passion (1994)
The House where Corinne Lived (1996)
Fatal Frames (1996)
Eyes of Crystal (2004)

I haven't seen any of these yet, so it's possible that some of them aren't gialli at all, but rather Krimi or other crime dramas. If you know where I can find any of them, please let me know!

One of the great things about having a blog on Blogger is that they provide the writer with a variety of statistics, so he or she can follow trends. For example, here's a run-down of the top SEO keyword phrases entered into search engines that led people to this blog (as of this posting):


It makes sense that the name of the blog would come up first, but I'm surprised to see that as many of six people looking up Luc Merenda and ending up here. Or, even stranger, maybe one person searched his name six times. If it was Luc Merenda searching his own name, let me please say hello. Big fan.

Next, let's take a snapshot of you, the audience:

The blog is written in English so it's hardly surprising that the US, UK, Canada and Australia are in the top ten countries that visited the site. But I'm thrilled to see so much interest in giallo movies coming from elsewhere including Turkey, Iraq, Madagascar and Ecuador, who fell below the top ten. I'm a little sad that Italy didn't rank higher.

Finally, by way of a hit count, here's a list of the most popular posts:


Absolutely fascinating. For a while You'll Die at Midnight was the most-viewed post (likely boosted by my incisive breakdown of Lamberto Bava's color motif) but in recent months, So Sweet... So Perverse pulled a commanding lead. Going in, I thought for sure that one of the classics like Deep Red, Blood and Black Lace, or The Black Belly of the Tarantula would be the most popular but a relatively obscure and bloodless Carroll Baker thriller is the most-read-about movie on this site.

Again, the blog isn't over - just the regular Thursday schedule.  If you have access to one of the movies on my wishlist, dubbed or subtitled in English, please let me know in the comments. Until then, thanks for reading!

 

Libido




Libido

"Not like my father! My god! Not like my father!"

As a child, Christian (Giancarlo Gianni) witnessed his father kill a blonde woman before hurling himself off a cliff. Now, many years later, Christian has returned to the house for the first time, accompanied by his wife, Helene (Dominique Boschero), the caretaker Paul (Luciano Pigozzi) and Paul's ditzy blonde wife, Brigitte (Mara Meryl).  Christian's guests are all on edge, unsure weather his return will stir up dark, traumatic memories and slowly but surely, Christian seems to lose his grasp on reality. He sees ghostly figures in the dark, chases phantom footsteps and swears that his dead father is in the house. Is the manor haunted by Christian's father? Or is Christian being gaslighted in an effort to steal his inheritance? If so, who is mastermind behind such a devious plan? 

Libido (not to be confused with the crime thriller In the Folds of the Flesh, which is sometimes also known as Libido) is a very early giallo and one of the first written by Ernesto Gastaldi, the man whose credits read as a list of the greatest gialli ever made and who created the template for the slasher film with TorsoLibido starts as a Psycho-style psychological thriller, introduces elements of gothic horror (thunderstorms, an old castle, muddy footprints, etc.) and finishes with a string of devious cons, double-crosses and mis-directs, ramping up the action all the way to the end. Gastaldi was clearly a fan of Mario Bava but also learned a lot from the French classic Diabolique.

  • You may know Giancarlo Gianni from his roles in Casino Royale and A Quantum of Solace. Dominique Boschero would appear in several other gialli, such as Who Saw Her Die? And giallo superstar Luciano Pigozzi - the "Italian Peter Lorre" - was featured in the classics Blood and Black Lace and Naked You Die.
  • This was the first directorial effort for both Gastaldi and co-director Vittorio Salerno.
  • Please note that the 2nd death listed above - Christian's father - is one that's talked about but not shown.
  • The movie opens with a Freud quote defining the concept of "libido" in clinical terms, but that provocative title doesn't really suit this mostly buttoned-up production.
 What the Hell am I Watching?

Libido may not be very well-known, but it turns out to be a highly influential giallo movie. If you're already a giallo fan, you will be shocked by the opening scene: Christian, as a young boy, is dressed in a short-pants suit with knee socks playing with a mechanical toy that plays a creepy sing-songy tune. He hears a scream and witnesses a murder, scarring him emotionally for the rest of his life.


Sound familiar? There's no way that Dario Argento didn't have this scene in mind ten years later when he wrote the beginning of Deep Red.

Also, the rest of the movie involves a psychologically unbalanced man named Christian who holes up in a cliffside mansion with a blonde woman, an older caretaker and the caretaker's bubbleheaded younger wife.  I'd say that's also a pretty good description of the middle third of Spasmo.

Fashion Moment

Brigitte is young, adventurous, and clueless about social cues, so her fashion sense tends to be a little daring. In one memorable scene, the camera leers as she dances the hula, wearing only black underwear and a feather boa.


Later, Helene's eyes nearly pop out of her head when Brigitte reveals this tiny pusstcat bikini.


But she does glam it up later with this elegant evening look.



As a side note, here's the musical toy that sets Christian off. He says it's Jiminy Cricket, but there's no way that's not Mr. Peanut.



New York Ripper



New York Ripper

Don't accept rides from anyone with two fingers missing on his right hand, okay?

A serial killer is on the loose in New York City and Lt. Frank Williams (Jack Hedley) is on the case. The victims are all beautiful young women, but that seems to be the only factor they have in common. As the bodies pile up in the morgue, the killer grows bolder, calling Lt. Williams before each murder and taunting him with a squeaky Donald Duck voice and quacking noises. Could the deranged killer be Mickey Scellenda (Howard Ross), a brooding eight-fingered man? Could it be jealous husband Dr. Lodge (Cosimo Cinieri)? With the help of psychology professor Dr. Paul Davis (Paolo Malco), Lt. Williams must find the answers before the duck-voiced killer strikes again!

New York Ripper isn't Lucio Fulci's best movie (that would be supernatural thriller L'Aldila), it's not his best giallo (that would be Perversion Story) and it's not the most fun to watch (that would be Murder Rock), but it's the Fulci-est Fulci movie ever, featuring all his signature moves: beautiful women in mortal jeopardy, lots of blood, close-up gore, zoom-ins on peoples' eyes, the killer's POV, Donald Duck, creepy and inappropriate sexual encounters, eyeball injuries, a gritty setting, helpless police, and a plot that hinges on a childhood trauma. This movie was made at a time when traditional gialli were being eclipsed in popularity by slasher films and Fulci gives his audience what they want, with slow-motion, blood-soaked shots of razors cutting off a woman's nipple and slicing through her eyeball. The plot may not make sense, but gore fans will cheer.

  • The movie starts with a standard Law & Order opening. A man is going about his day, walking his dog along the river when he stumbles across the first body.
  • Fulci makes a cameo as Lt. Williams' police chief.
  • There's a scene of a cool radio DJ warning people about the killer on the loose between songs and asking him to "leave those ladies alone." The way it's shot and acted, it seems to be an obvious homage to the DJ in The Warriors.
  • Fulci also seems to be paying homage to Bava and Argento when he lights the third murder scene in saturated greens and reds.
  • Killer's POV is a pretty standard giallo move, but I can't recall seeing Police POV before New York Ripper. 
  • You may remember Andrea Occhipinti from his starring role in the great Blade in the Dark.
What the Hell am I Watching?

In a weird subplot, Jane Lodge (Alexandra Delli Colli) keeps getting herself into more and more dangerous sexual situations, recording them on a mini tape player, and giving them to her husband to listen to. She doesn't seem to enjoy doing it, and it's implied that she's making the tapes to aid her husband's sexual disfunction. In the weirdest and most disturbing scene, she flirts with and is assaulted by two guys in a pool hall.

Fashion Moment

There's not a great shot of it, but I love Fay's (Almanta Suska) white cashmere scarf and the way it's elegantly draped over her shoulder in the subway scene. Great hair, too.





The Murder Clinic



The Murder Clinic

I never look at houses. Only the people living in them.

It's 1870 and at a remote English estate converted into a psychiatric asylum, a beautiful young patient has been murdered by a mysterious figure in a black hooded cloak. That same night, Giseéle (Françoise Prévost) is lost in the woods and stumbles upon the clinic's doctor, Robert Vance, burying the body. The next morning, Dr. Vance discovers Giséle and takes her in as a guest, where she meets the doctor's wife, Lizabeth (Mary Young), Nurse Mary (Barbara Wilson) and several patients at the hospital. Did Dr. Vance really kill the young woman? Or did one of the inmates finally snap? What are those strange footsteps coming from the forbidden third floor? And who will be the next to die?

The Murder Clinic (not to be confused with Slaughter Hotel, which has virtually the same plot) is an early giallo that relies on the trappings of gothic horror to create its mood: a dark castle, torch-weilding villagers and a quite-possibly-mad scientist. But The Murder Clinic also clearly owes a lot to the gialli of Mario Bava, whose trademark colored lighting is appropriated along with certain plot elements from Blood and Black Lace. There are also elements that presage an important later work but I'll go into detail below.

  • Elio Scardamaglia was mainly a producer of Italian exploitation films. This is the only movie he ever directed.
  • Barbara Wilson seems like a natural on-screen, but this is her only film credit.
  • You may remember Massimo Reghi (who plays psychotic patient Fred) as Marco in Blood and Black Lace.
  • The Murder Clinic is an early script by superstar screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi.
  • A shallow grave in the woods does not count as a scene in a cemetery, for the purposes of the checklist above.
What the Hell am I Watching?

 When Dr. Vance finds Giséle in the woods, he gives her a quick medical exam. And by "gives her a medical exam" I mean "gropes her bewbs."

There's a flashback late in the movie scored to a knockoff of the main theme from Gone With the Wind. I'm sure it's just different enough to avoid litigation.

Fashion Moment
Scardamaglia attempts a color motif in The Murder Clinic, just like Bava did in Blood and Black Lace. In this case, the color red links back to the first murder. At the beginning of the film, the killer runs through the castle and seemingly into the Vance's suite, where Robert is wearing this red smoking jacket.


The next morning, the victim has mysteriously vanished and Nurse Mary finds her red book slashed across the cover.


Wearing a fancy red dress, Giséle stumbles across Dr. Vance burying the body and when he finds her, Dr. Vance is wearing a red cape.


Later, when Giséle tries to blackmail Dr. Vance, he is wearing the same red smoking jacket.


On a different note, it may sound strange but The Murder Clinic may have been an influence on one of the greatest giallo films of all time - Dario Argento's Susperia.  The first murder in both films features a young woman escaping a looming manor house and running from a killer through the woods at night.  There's a scene in The Murder Clinic where Giséle slowly explores the house, gets chased by the killer, locks herself in a room, watches in terror as the door handle rattles, and is attacked - rather like Sara's memorable scene in Susperia. Both movies feature a mysterious woman hidden at the top of the house, who holds the answers to all the weird goings-on. And there's this scene, where a servant chases the killer through a shadowy labyrinth of hanging laundry...


... which is reminiscent of this memorably creepy scene from Susperia:


So was Dario Argento inspired by elements of The Murder Clinic? I'll leave it up to you to decide.



What the Peeper Saw

What the Peeper Saw


"He has his problems..."
After a whirlwind romance and a marriage to Paul (Hardy Krüger), Englishwoman Elise (Britt Ekland) arrives in Spain to discover that her new stepson, Marcus (Mark Lester) is home early from boarding school. Elise soon learns that Marcus is very smart, but also very cold and calculating. After snooping around, she finds that Marcus was expelled from school for his voyeuristic compulsions and lewd behavior. But did he also have something to do with the death of Paul's first wife, Sara (Colette Giacobine), who died under mysterious circumstances?  Elise's search for the truth puts her deeper and deeper in danger, while distancing her from her new husband. Did Marcus kill his mother? Does Marcus want Elise dead? Or does he want something else from her?

Gross. 
Gross gross gross gross gross.

I know that some giallo movies tend to push the boundaries of good taste, but this one takes it in a weird direction. There are, of course, "sexy" gialli, but this is the first I've seen that involves an adult and a twelve year old. Apart from the ick factor, the first two thirds of the movie are really dull and then things pick up at the end with some strange turns, a dream sequence montage and a gleeful twist ending. Light on blood but heavy on exposition, bewbs and inappropriate boundary issues.

  • You'll recognize the most famous actor in the cast, Mark Lester, from his title role in Carol Reed's Academy Award-winning musical Oliver.
  • You might know Swedish actress Britt Eckland as a Bond girl or from The Wicker Man, Get Carter, or from dozens of guest appearances on all the classic '70's TV shows.
  • The music in this movie was done by the great Stelvio Cipriani
  • Co-director Andrea Bianchi is renowned for his sexually-charged gialli like Strip Nude for Your Killer.
  • There's definitely a water motif in the movie - Sara is killed in her bath tub, a dog drowns in a pool, and several grownup scenes take place in bathrooms and swimming pools.
  • Both of the fake murders occur during the aforementioned dream montage.
What the Hell am I Watching?

Paul and Elise go to a party, where a woman of African heritage has been forcibly pinned to a table while guests cover her with fresh fruit, shoving it into her face as she struggles to free herself.

In the most messed-up scene in the movie, Elise slowly strips in front of Marcus, getting him to answer questions about his mother's death. He answers a question for each article of clothing, until she's completely naked in front of the boy.

Fashion Moment

There's not a lot to talk about, fashion-wise. Paul looks good in a suit and Elise tends to prefer solid-colored, monochromatic outfits.


She does glam it up a little with this Pucci-inspired print and elaborate matching necklace in the party scene.



Date for a Murder




Date for a Murder

"...but I can assure you I'm no Sherlock Holmes."

Vince Dreyser (George Ardisson)  is an American security expert working for rich clients in Italy. When he runs into his college buddy Walter (Hans von Borsody), they make a plan to meet up again a few weeks later in Rome, but Walter never shows up. Concerned for his friend, Vince starts investigating and discovers a web of murder and corporate espionage. To complicate matters, Vince has also agreed to be bodyguard to a freewheeling young mod named Fidelia (Halina Zalewska). While keeping Fidelia out of trouble, Vince tracks down the clues and dodges bullets alongside disapproving, by-the-book Commissioner Giunta (Günther Stoll). Is Walter dead? What was he mixed up in? And why do all the people with the answers Vince needs keep getting murdered?

Date for a Murder is a pretty good pre-Argento Giallo, with some good action sequences, tight suspense, and a focus set firmly on the mystery, rather than on blood or sex.  The story culminates in an epic chase scene through a hospital, which turns into a car chase through Rome's suburbs and finishes with a suspenseful standoff at a meat packing facility. 
  • There seems to be a "reflection" motif, as characters are frequently seen in mirrors. They're even more commonly obscured on screen, filmed behind reflections in glass, blinds, flowers, and screens.
  • Early in the investigation, two mobsters try to dispatch Vince Norman Bates-style by knocking him out, putting him in a car and staging an accident. But rather than sinking it in a lake, they set it on fire and roll it down a cliff. 
  • Vince gets his own "House" moment – after reaching a dead end and giving up on the case, he sees something unrelated which triggers an epiphany, allowing him to solve the case.
  • The original title, Omicidio Per Appuntamento might be better translated as Murder by Appointment. The working title of the film was Si Muore Una Sola Volta, or You Only Die Once – no doubt a wink at a similar James Bond title and a reference to Vince's role as, essentially, a freelance secret agent.
What the Hell am I Watching?

As I mentioned, this move is straightforward, bloodless and nudity-free. The only wacky, off-the-wall moments come from Fidelia's complicated and outrageous fashion sense, as illustrated by some of her many wigs. Here are just a few:

This is the "Mia Wallace."



This is her Phyllis Diller look at the local disco.


I call this look "Leia on Hoth."


And finally, there's the "hairy basketball hoops," a.k.a. "Minnie Mouse on acid."


Fashion Moment

Let's take a moment to recognize cinematographer Franco Delli Colli. His compositions are artful and his warm lighting gives the movie a real human touch. But he's not afraid to mix it up with some shaky verité handheld work in order to give the disco a raucous vibe and imbue the rooftop chase with a giddy sense of vertigo.  Here are just a few examples of his interesting lens work:




Notice the low angle and the harp in this last shot - no doubt an homage to Mario Bava's classic Blood & Black Lace.