Evil Eye

Evil Eye
"Do you think it's possible for a nightmare to continue when one's awake?"
Playboy expatriate Peter Crane (Jorge Rivero), who is haunted by dreams of satanic rituals and anguished souls, is shocked to meet a woman, Yvonne Chevrel (Lone Flemming) who shares the same visions. Peter is inexplicably compelled to murder Yvonne but then immediately wakes up from a dream - but was it a dream? And are the objects that seem to move on their own part of his hallucinations? To add to the confusion, Peter starts receiving threatening calls and letters from a blackmailer, who threatens to expose him as a murderer.  Even though Peter seeks help from psychiatrist Dr. Stone (Richard Conte) and beautiful Dr. Turner (Pilar Velásquez), he keeps envisioning murders before they happen. Is Peter insane? Or is he merely the puppet of a satanic cult? Skeptical Inspector Rameri (Anthony Steffen) tries to find answers and may become a believer in the process.
Evil Eye (not to be confused with The Girl Who Knew Too Much, which is sometimes also called The Evil Eye) is an interesting blend of Spasmo's psychadelic weirdness and L'Aldila's sense of supernatural dread, seasoned with elements and images from Dario Argento's early work.  It all amounts to a confusing mishmash of plot threads where motivations and logic get hazy, culminating in an anticlimactic ending that was certainly meant to be a heady twist.
  • Evil Eye was co-written by Julio Buchs, who was responsible for Murder By Music
  • Please to enjoy an appearance by legendary giallo actor Luciano Piggozi (credited here as Alan Collins).
  • The Argento influences include shots of a creepy doll, dark trees blowing in the wind, glass breaking in slow motion and a ghostly face appearing in a high window.
  • The title makes sense because it refers to the charm pennant that Inspector Ramieri carries (at his wife's insistence) to ward off evil spirits.
  • The original Italian title, "Eroticofollia" translates as "Erotic Madness."

What the Hell am I Watching?

Even with all the voodoo stuff, naked ghosts, moving objects and unexplained ideas in this movie, the weirdest scene is the one where Peter and his girlfriend Tanya (Pia Giancaro) shower, brush their teeth and make out all at the same time.

Peter meets an old woman who, it turns out, is a ghost - but her timeline doesn't add up at all. His friend's wife, Elizabeth (Daniella Giordano) says that the old woman died three days before, implying that she was buried or at the morgue. But later, the police find the old woman's body in the yard. If Elizabeth knew the old woman was dead, why did she leave the corpse in her yard for three days? And are we to presume that Peter killed the woman three days ago, forgot about it, and then came back to see Elizabeth? 

Fashion Moment

 Early on, Peter wakes up in this stylish yellow (yes, "giallo") kimono.

Peter sees the doctors about his confusing dreams - but what he really needs is a cure for Saturday Night Fever.
And when he stops by Derek and Elizabeth's house, he's decked out in head-to-toe acid washed denim (shirtless, of course).

Five Women for the Killer

Five Women for the Killer
"When you've stared death in the face, you never forget it."

Writer Giorgio Pisani (Francis Matthews) rushes home to see the birth of his son, only to find that his wife has died in childbirth. On top of that, he discovers that the baby isn't his - medical tests show that Giorgio is sterile. But as he pieces his life together, the police are investigating a gloved killer whose victims are all pregnant women - or women believed to be pregnant. Could Giorgio's grief and confusion be driving him to murder? Or perhaps smarmy pediatrician Dr. Betti (Georgio Albertazzi), who has just impregnated his mistress, is covering his tracks? The Police Inspector (Howard Ross) must find out before more women die!

Five Women for the Killer (not to be confused with Six Women for the Killer, a.k.a. Blood & Black Lace) is a decent post-Argento giallo that follows a pattern: a woman character is introduced, the woman reveals that she's pregnant, the woman is killed. By the fourth time this pattern plays out, the audience knows what to expect (and may find it a little boring) but the filmmakers pull the rug out from under our expectations in the final scenes. The script is cleverly set up to let the audience figure out the identity of the killer about two minutes before it's revealed on screen.

  • Director Stelvio Massi was the cinematographer on one of my favorite gialli, The Case of the Bloody Iris.
  • Composer Giorgio Gaslini, who would go on to contribute music to Deep Red, imitates the noisy, funky bebop of Ennio Morricone's Bird with the Crystal Plumage soundtrack.
  • The title "sort of" makes sense because while only four women ended up dead, there were five intended victims.
What the Hell am I Watching?

If you're a main suspect in a series of murders and find yourself at a fresh crime scene before the police arrive, don't be like Giorgio and pick up the murder weapon. Major facepalm.

Fashion Moment

Nothing to report here. The plot doesn't include any cocktail parties, receptions or gallery shows, so none of the characters have a reason to dress up in anything fancier than sport coats and ties. 1970's casual wear abounds.

The Killer Reserved Nine Seats

The Killer Reserved Nine Seats

"I always feel like I'm in terrible danger when I'm with you. A woman likes that."

On the night of his birthday, wealthy aristocrat Patrick (Chris Avram) invites party guests to explore his family's old theater, which has been maintained but unused for 100 years. The group includes his sister, Rebecca (Eva Czemerys) and her lover Doris (Lucretia Love), Patrick's ex-wife, Vivian (Rosana Schiaffino) and her new husband Albert (Andrea Scotti), Patrick's daughter Lynn (Paola Senatore) and her boyfriend Duncan (Gaetano Russo), Patrick's fiancé Kim (Janet Agren) her ex, Russell (Howard Ross) and a mysterious man in a nehru jacket whom nobody can quite place (Eduardo Filipone). Before long, the guests find themselves locked inside the old theater and one by one they turn up dead. Everyone seems to have a motive, but who could be the killer? The answer lies in an ominous secret curse that has haunted Patrick's family for centuries!

The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (not to be confused with The Killer is One of Thirteen) places the familiar "Ten Little Indians" scenario in an old theater and adds a supernatural twist. The result could have been a moody and stylish but is instead plodding, dull and about 40 minutes too long.  Patrick's 100-year family curse was obviously cribbed from The Red Queen Kills Seven Times and the murder scenes in a theater are likely a nod to Herschell Gordon Lewis's The Wizard of Gore. The characters in Nine Seats may be better fleshed-out than most and a torchlit journey to the underground catacombs at the end is an interesting move, but just about everything this movie tries to achieve has been done better elsewhere.

  • This is the last of director Giuseppe Bennati's nine movies and his only giallo. 
  • Composer Carlo Savina was a favorite musical director and orchestra conductor for Frederico Fellini and Francis Ford Coppola.
  • You may recognize Chris Avram from Bay of Blood and Andrea Scotti from So Sweet, So Dead and The Fifth Cord. Of course, Howard Ross started his career in sword-and-sandal movies and later appeared in notable gialli like Naked Girl Killed in the Park and The New York Ripper.
What the Hell am I Watching?

The movie drags but it does have a few crazy moments to watch out for, starting with the mysterious disembodied voice that bellows a monologue from Othello from the stage for a good five minutes.

The killer wears an old man mask that is suitably disturbing. It's a giallo, so of course it's paired with black gloves and a cape.

The killer punishes lesbian Rebecca by stabbing her repeatedly in the lady parts and then nailing her hand to a board. By far the most brutal killing in the movie.

The biggest WTF moment comes late in the movie, when Lynn copes with the situation by popping pills and deleriously dancing naked in her room. It's a welcome break in the action, but it's ruined when she starts to make out with her own father. Gross gross gross gross gross.

Fashion Moment

Here's Vivian killing it in a sexy black gown:

And the mysterious stranger may (or may not) be over 100 years old, but his fashion sense is right up to date in his blue silk nehru jacket, accentuated by a silver medallion.

Who Killed the Prosecutor and Why?

Who Killed the Prosecutor and Why?
This is not a cheap film. It's art. The art of crime.
During a photo shoot, photographer Carlo (Lou Castel) and his girlfriend Olga (Beba Loncar) secretly witness two men removing a dead body from their car and staging an accident to cover up their crime - mafia enforcers disposing of the body of a state prosecuting attorney. Carlo gets the whole event on film and goes to his boss, noted pornographer Ivan "Uncle Fifi" Smirkov (Massimo Serato) for advice. Instead of taking the photos to the police, they try to sell the photos to crime boss Don Salvatore (Fortunato Arena) but when he refuses to pay, they sell the evidence to the local newspaper.  Unfortunately, a gloved assassin shows up after the sale to kill the reporter and steal the photos and he isn't done yet - everyone involved with the photos is on his list. Who could the killer be and who does he work for? Inspector Vezzi (Adolfo Celi) has three ideas, but can he stop the killings in time?

Who Killed the Prosecutor and Why? (not to be confused with Who Saw Her Die?) is a fantastic and rare giallo with a well-crafted mystery plot, lots of gratuitous nudity, stylish camera work, a variety of kills, and some well-crafted suspense scenes. It has just about everything that defines the genre in its heyday, grabbing the viewer from the beginning and engaging with an easy-to-follow investigation. If you can find it, check this one out.

  • It's weird to see Adolfo Celi playing a cop - he's usually cast as the suave villain.
  • The haunting musical theme that plays throughout the film is reminiscent of the They Might Be Giants song "Where Your Eyes Don't Go."
  • Two million Lira (the asking price for Carlos's photos) was a little over $11,000 USD.
  • Inspector Vezzi is a stamp collector, just like Commissioner Enci in The Case of the Bloody Iris. Two stamp-collecting police inspectors in movies released less than three months apart. Could it be a coincidence?
What the Hell am I Watching?

I suppose the craziest thing that happens in this movie is the Roman orgy-themed photo shoot at Uncle Fifi's studio. It's mostly chaste, but still superfluous, incongruous fun as the models grope each other while Uncle Fifi barks orders from his wheelchair.

Fashion Moment

Olga makes a bold first impression during the opening credits of the movie, wearing a poncho, boots and nothing else.

Those are the actual camera angles in the film, by the way. The other notable fashion moment is mafia boss Don Salvatore, who spends most of his screen time in this richly patterned pink and gold silk robe.

This is a man confident in the knowledge that no one will  mock his fashion choices.

Tropic of Cancer

Tropic of Cancer
When the spirit chooses a woman and enters her body,
that woman will know the secret of life and happiness.
While Fred Wright (Gabriele Tinti) and his wife, Grace (Anita Strindberg) are vacationing in Haiti, they find an old friend, Dr. Williams (Anthony Steffen), who has developed a new miracle drug. But someone wants the formula so badly they're willing to kill for it! Which of  the rival cartels and drug companies is knocking off the competition? Secret alliances and double-crosses abound and the Wrights find themselves caught in the crossfire. Can they survive the web of treachery? And what secrets is Fred keeping from his wife?

Tropic of Cancer (not to be confused with the Henry Miller novel or its 1970 film adaptation) is an action-packed giallo that uses its Haitian setting to full effect. The miracle drug MacGuffin isn't well-explained during the exposition, but the general idea is conveyed - danger is out there and anyone could be the killer or the next victim. The kill scenes are spread out at regular intervals and offer some real creativity For example, one victim is scalded with steam, loaded onto a conveyor belt, falls into a large industrial vat, is jabbed with a pole until he lets go of the rim, and is sealed inside. Another victim's death is attributed simply to a voodoo curse. The whole film is a sweaty, bloody, sexy hodgepodge - all that's missing is a coherent plot.

  • Dr. Williams takes the Wrights to a voodoo ceremony and it's clear that the filmmakers wanted to inject the film with a touch of Mondo Cane -  naked dancers circle a bull and writhe on the ground before the animal is killed and its scrotum is removed, all set to delirious drumming. It's presented with minimal cultural context simply for cheap shock value.
  • Be warned that there are two scenes where animals are killed - actual animals actually being killed, not puppets. First is the bull being sacrificed at the voodoo ceremony and later, Grace and Dr. Williams visit a beef processing facility and see cows slaughtered. 
  • It's never clear exactly what kind of doctor Williams is. He develops the drug for humans but is sometimes described as a veterinarian. He knows a lot about both plants and spiders, creating an anti-venom on the spot when Gardner (Stelio Candelli) is bit. And he also acts as a meat processing inspector.
  • The Tropic of Cancer does not run through Haiti.
What the Hell am I Watching?

Aside from the voodoo sacrifice and cow slaughter? There's a scene depicting what is supposed to be a Haitian wedding rite: the couple lie naked, face down next to each other as they're splashed with water and surrounded by a singing, drumming crowd.

Grace is poisoned by a local flower, whose scent sends her into a trippy dream sequence.  She finds herself in a black robe, running down a red hallway lined with naked men, who reach out to her. Her hair billows in slow motion as she lies on the floor, watching as one man approaches her and kisses her.  It looks like the music video Madonna was never allowed to make.

Fashion Moment

Grace knows the secret to looking good in the tropics - keep it light and casual.

... Even when you're having a drug-induced psychadelic freak-out, layers are not your friend.


Philip (Umberto Raho) illustrates another important point: a crisp white suit seems like a good idea, but that only lasts for about twenty minutes before things get sticky.



Double Face

Double Face
She's just like her mother... rich, moody, wicked.
Shortly after marrying his wife, Helen (Margaret Lee), John Alexander (Klaus Kinski) discovers that she is having an affair with her friend Liz (Annabella Incontrera), but divorce would mean financial ruin. Despite this, John is distraught after Helen is killed in a car crash and when he finds a strange but flirtatious woman, Christine (Christiane Krüger) in his home, he is in no mood for games. But when Christine shows John a sexy movie featuring herself with a mysterious veiled woman, John becomes obsessed - the other woman is wearing Helen's ring and has the same scar on her neck as John's late wife! If the film was made just a week before, does that mean that Helen faked her death? Or has John's grief made him lose his grip on reality? Either way, his search for answers will lead him on a dangerous path!
Double Face (not to be confused with The Double) treads the same ground as some other, more widely-known gialli and I'd say that while it's more coherent than Spasmo, it's not nearly as well-made as Perversion Story. Even though the body count is low, the mystery is baffling and the nudity is abundant, making this an eminently watchable bad movie. 

  • The script, based on the novel "A Face In the Night" by Edgar Wallace, was co-written by Lucio Fulci (which may explain some resemblance to Perversion Story).
  • Luciano Spadoni, who plays Inspector Gordon, was also the set and costume designer in this production.
  • Two years after this production, Klaus Kinski, Annabella Incontrera and Margaret Lee would reunite on screen in Slaughter Hotel.
  • None of the titles really make sense. "Double Face" would make more sense if there was a Vertigo-esque identity switch and the lesbian affair is a minor sub plot, making "Liz & Helen" just as out of place. The title "Puzzle of Horrors" belongs on a film with more gore and far more murders.
What the Hell Am I Watching?

What Double Face lacks in good writing it makes up for in crazy moments. For example, the wild hippie warehouse party where two motorcyclists have an indoor jousting tournament, ripping off an article of clothing from a dancing girl with each pass.

Then there are the hilariously inept special effect sequences, which cut from footage of real cars and trains to HO-scale models crashing into each other.

Something that confused me from the start: John is trapped in his unhappy marriage with Helen because of financial necessity, but what advantage does Helen gain in staying married to John? Why does she insist that they stay together?

Finally, who handcuffs a suspect without frisking him for weapons first?

Fashion Moment

In the scene preceding Helen's car crash, we see that she's ready to shuffle off this mortal coil in high style, wearing a chic white dress, gold chain belt, go-go boots and a rich oiled leather coat draped over her shoulders.

Later, Liz vamps it up with some Elizabeth Taylor realness in this sexy off-the-shoulder low-cut fringe number.  Perhaps her shredded white dress is worn in memory of her dead lover?

The Perfect Crime

The Perfect Crime
It's so beautiful being rich. Money is everything.
After business tycoon Sir Ronald Selmer's plane explodes in mid-air, three Vice Presidents, Paul De Revere (Leonard Mann), Sir Arthur Dundee (Joseph Cotten) and Sir Harold Boyd (Adolfo Celi) stand to inherit his position of power. Each man's ambitions lead them to conspire against each other and it seems that nothing is off-limits - including murder. But each killing is so cleverly made to look like an accident that Inspector Hawks (Anthony Steel) finds it difficult to connect the dots. Who will be the last man standing?
The Perfect Crime (not to be confused with literally dozens of other movies with the same title) is a fun late-period giallo where the audience is always allowed to stay one step ahead of the police. Groovy music, fast cars and opulent settings add to the style factor and the fast-moving plot makes it a fun watch right up to the end, buttoned with a winking reveal.  The cast is a spectacular array of stars including Joseph Cotten (from nearly every major Orson Wells production), Adolfo Celi (a James Bond alum, featured in Who Saw Her Die?), Susperia's Alida Valli, Blood & Black Lace's Franco Ressel and Fulci alum Janet Agren. There's even a cameo by the great Maria Tedeschi, who seems to have made a living off her cameos in giallo movies.

  • The original Italian title translates as Investigation of a Perfect Crime.
  • I'm going to say that the title does make sense because, while the audience finds out the identity of the killer - spoiler alert - he doesn't get caught in the end. Also, I didn't check "Inept Police" above, because they do everything in their power to catch the killer but were simply outsmarted.
  • Check out the background of Paul's office - it looks like he has a painting by Margaret Keane, as seen in Tim Burton's film Big Eyes.
 What the Hell Am I Watching?

Let's talk about the scene where Sir Harold's wife, Gloria (Janet Agren) sneaks off after a fox hunt to have some grownup time with two guys at the same time.

...Or the time Sir Arthur sends his girlfriend to seduce and murder Sir Harold.

This movie features one of the most ingenious kill scenes in recent memory. The killer slips into Sir Arthur's bedroom at night and zaps him with an electromagnet gun. When the police arrive the next morning, it looks like he had a heart attack caused by a malfunctioning pacemaker.

Fashion Moment

The clothes in The Perfect Murder are well-chosen for a cast of rich English socialites in the 1970's. Which is to say, they're expensive-looking, conservative and boring. Nothing says old money like fox hunting gear.

Except maybe a double-breasted suit.

Further proof of my theory that no one looks good in double breasted suits.

Polly (Gloria Guida) did get to glam it up (tastefully) in one scene, though, but she was hidden by the table.


The Hand of the Assassin

The Hand of the Assassin

Don't pay attention. The drugs make me say more than I want.

Just as Margarita (Katia Loritz) and Romano (José Caffarel) are closing their hotel for the season, the place fills up, as a group of travelers are stranded by a storm, which has cut the power and phone lines. That night at dinner, while Margarita is singing a song in the darkness to entertain her guests, one of the visitors, Oscar, is murdered and his suitcase filled with cash is stolen. Who could have done it? Oscar's heroin-addicted wife, Elena (Perla Cristal)? Shifty salesman Suarez (Fernando Sancho)? Or maybe the high-strung old grandmother (Julia Delgado Caro) isn't as feeble as she looks. As the mystery unfolds, more guests turn up dead. With no help from the police, the other guests must find the killer before it's too late.

The Hand of the Assassin (not to be confused with A... For Assassin) is a rare but well-made early Spanish giallo that borrows both gothic conventions and a Bava-esque visual language.  The cinematography by Victor Monreal is really remarkable, combining some beautiful compositions and unexpected camera movement with a painterly sense of shadows, light and color. The basic locked-room murder mystery plot is augmented by interesting characters, some great twists and a coda featuring an exciting chase scene around a series of bridges and waterfalls. Check this one out.

  • The direct translation of the Spanish title is The Face of the Assassin.
  • The Italian title is L'Assassino é Tra Noi Sette, or The Killer is Among Us Seven, which makes zero sense because there are at least a dozen suspects.  Six years later, the similarly titled The Killer is One of Thirteen would be released.
  • This movie features one of my all-time favorite giallo actors - George Rigoud as the Colonel. You may remember him from The Case of the Bloody Iris, Death Walks on High Heels and A Lizard in Woman's Skin
  • Please note that the José Ferrer in this cast is not the Academy Award-winning José Ferrer from Laurence of Arabia and Cyrano de Bergerac.
  •  Much like Bava's 1971 classic Twitch of the Death Nerve (a.k.a. Bay of Blood), this film features a professor who collects insect specimens.
  • The title "sort of" makes sense because it's so generic. Yes, the killer used their hands to murder people (as opposed to a gun), but hands aren't a clue or a plot point in any way. Maybe it would make more sense if they left a unique ring mark on their victims' necks after strangling them.
What the Hell am I Watching?

 Early in the movie butler Paolo goes down to the "mineral cellar," which is a large, creepy room filled with bubbling cauldrons of dry ice. Throughout the movie this is treated as a normal thing that hotels have in their cellars.

Fashion Moment

There's not a lot to report here, but former actress Margerita seems to enjoy standing out from the crowd. When we first meet her, she's lazing around the empty hotel in this frilly nightgown, not giving any f's.

But she spends most of the rest of the movie in a leopard print top - a flashy contrast to her guests' more conservative solid-colored attire.