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.