A... for Assassin

A... for Assassin

You got what you deserved, John Prescott

When millionaire John Prescott is found stabbed to death in his palatial manor, he leaves behind an unusual audio-taped will. Because he hated and distrusted his greedy heirs, John stipulated that only three would share his fortune and only after living together in his home for a month - sure that they would kill each other off in pursuit of his money. And sure enough, as police Inspector Matt (Gilberto Mazzi) looks into John's murder, he finds that with the heirs eager to frame each other, details of their alibis don't line up. Is Adriana (Aïché Nana) really the ditzy bubblehead she seems to be? Is Angela (Mary Arden) really innocent? And was Giacomo (Sergio Ciana, credited as Alan Steel) really a loyal employee?  The Inspector will need to sort out the lies and find John's killer before everyone ends up dead!

A... for Assassin is another snappy early script by Ernesto Gastaldi that relies on gothic atmosphere and leans heavily on the classic Agatha Christie template. It also sets the stage for later locked-room gialli like The Weekend Murders, Nine Guests for a Crime and, most notably, Twitch of the Death Nerve.  The setting is appropriately creepy, the cast is effective, and there are even a few good fight scenes, including a suspenseful rooftop chase during a thunderstorm.

  • You may recognize bodybuilder Sergio Ciani, a.k.a. Alan Steel, who took a break from playing Hercules and Samson in a popular string of sword-and-sandal adventure films to make this giallo.
  • The gothic trappings continue into the score, as an arrangement of Bach's famous Toccata in D Minor is used as the main titles music.
  • Cinematographer Aldo Tonti had a spectacular resume, having worked with Fellini and, a few years later, John Houston.
What the Hell am I Watching?

Giacomo takes a bullet to the corroded artery before finishing his fight with Armando,walking downstairs and confronting and attacking Angela before passing out.

Fashion Moment

There's not a lot going on, fashion-wise in this movie, but Angela does stand out in this mod color-blocked dress.

And it's interesting to see how they dressed Sergio Ciani, who spent his career up to this point shirtless, bearded and coated in baby oil.

I'd say they made him look pretty good.

Reflections in Black

Reflections in Black

"If we don't find the third girl in that photo fast,
we're going to have another corpse on our hands."

When Emma Giorgi is attacked in her home late one night by a razor-wielding woman wearing black stockings, Inspector Laurina (John Richardson) and his partner Sergeant Panto (director Tano Cimarosa) are on the case. Before long, a second murder occurs and the victim is one of Emma's close friends. Why is the killer targeting this group and who will be next? The answers will lead the Inspector from Leondra (Dagmar Lassander), the wife of a powerful politician, to a drug smuggling hairstylist to lesbian photographer Contessa Orselmo (Magda Konopka). What secrets do the victims share and who will be the next to die?

Reflections in Black (also commonly called Vice Wear Black Hose) is a classic mid-70's giallo complete with a gloved killer, gratuitous nudity, lesbian love scenes, and a groovy soundtrack featuring a harpsichord, thumping electric bass and jazz drumming. The plot comes into focus late in the game and an overlong but necessary summary of the storyline by one of the survivors may fill in the details, but it drags the ending down. Other than that, the cast of giallo all-stars shines and benefits from expert editing by Romeo Ciatti.

  • Director Tano Cimarosa cast himself as Sergeant Panto, the short, wisecracking sidekick to the noble Police Inspector. Could "Sergeant Panto" be a reference to Sancho Panza from Cervantes' Don Quixote?
  • This movie features a classic "lovers alone in the woods stalked by the killer" scenario, which first appeared in 1973's Torso and was inspired by the true events of the Zodiac Killer case.
What the Hell am I Watching?

After being questioned by police about Emma's death, Leondra goes to her room. Her maid soon follows and, in an effort to console her, silently starts to undress. Leondra is too upset for grownup time and tells the maid to leave. It's a revealing scene, to be sure, but it's staged in a very strange way.

Leondra then flashes back to a poolside makeout scene with Emma and, rather than using the traditional hazy focus, the flashback looks like it was shot through a glass of milk.

When I started this blog, I decided not to have a checkbox for "horribly misogynistic" because that's sort of a given in the giallo genre. But it's never been so overtly stated as when Sergio (Marco Busciala) tells Anna (Ursula Davis) "Try to keep your impulses to the bedroom and supermarket." 

Fashion Moment

 Fast-talking drug dealer Sandro (Ninetto Davoli) illustrates everything that was wrong with 1970's fashion:

 A tight muscle shirt under a glaringly loud cropped shirt with nine-inch cuffs and a collar fashioned from a couple of airplane wings. Add tight polyester high-wasted bell-bottoms and a Juan Epstein hairdo and you've got yourself a look.

Later, he tops it with a full-on Disco Stu rhinestone denim jacket that reads "OHIO BASE 47."