"Horizontal in life and in death. What difference does it make?"
A bicycle-riding killer is stalking prostitutes in the city, hacking them up with a razor blade before finishing the job with a handgun. The police have responded by stepping up patrols, but the local prostitutes aren't happy about the increased harassment and don't feel any safer. In response, they form an alliance, arming themselves, watching each others backs, and collecting evidence on suspicious clients. All this just adds to their own personal problems. Monica (Anny Papa) looks after a lonely, troubled young girl; Angela (Marina Suma) secretly supports her family as a high-priced call-girl; Stella (Mara Veiner) struggles with doubts about ever being loved and fitting into society. All the while the mysterious killer keeps striking – could it be a crazed client? The police inspector? Or perhaps it's one of the girls, turning on her sisters?
Sweets From a Stranger (not to be confused with So Sweet... So Dead) may have the framework of a murder mystery, but at its heart it's a gritty depiction of the lives of prostitutes, touching on serious issues. The movie addresses the dangers of the job, police apathy, financial difficulties, mental illness, abuse, and it ultimately asks us to consider who is being exploited by prostitution. Serious stuff.
- Sweets From a Stranger was written and directed by Franco Ferrini, one of Dario Argento's main screenwriters of the 1980's. This is his only directorial effort.
- The first murder is a shot-for-shot homage to Blood and Black Lace. The victim (Sabrina Ferilli) is chased through a wooded area, is knocked to the ground, and is hacked by a knife. Just as in Mario Bava's classic, the camera pans up to statues of crying angels as the girl dies, giving a sense of ironic pathos.
- That first victim (who is only called "La Romana" or "the girl from Rome") has a dog with her. When a John asks what the dog's name is, she coyly replies "Adescame" which translates as "seduce me" (or, literally, "lure me in").
- You may remember Anny Papa from A Blade In the Dark
- For a movie about prostitutes, there's very little nudity.
- For the purposes of the checklist above, I'm counting the hooker's union as an "all-girl institution."
Once the girls unite and devise a plan of action, they all drive to a field where they take clients and loudly address the nearby shrubs, (where they know peeping Toms hide) asking for protection and help in finding the murderer. Then, as a gesture of good will, they lift their coats and put on a (mostly chaste) show for the unseen men hiding in the foliage.
That whole scene is scored to a knockoff of the "Colonel Bogey March," which you may know as the peppy theme to Bridge on the River Kwai.
It's the mid-80's, so when the women aren't in over-complicated underwear, they're hiding under bulky layers and long shapeless dusters.
They look like an all-girl Cure cover band.
There is, however, a scene where a group of the ladies drop off important evidence to the police, wearing masks to hide their identities.