A Brief History of Italian Giallo Films: Part III

Armando Crispino, made his debut in the detective story with The Dead Are Alive! (1972), yet another attempt by Lombardo to repeat the success of Argento’s works. In reality, from the very first shots it is possible to notice the stylistic and atmospheric choices that differentiate Crispino’s film from the thrillers produced in the period: a long aerial overview of the Etruscan necropolis with voice off that illustrates its mysteries and suggestions. It almost seems more like the preamble to a horror story than a thriller. «The Etruscan kills again», the regsita recalled, «was born precisely as a film with an arcane atmosphere and magical suggestion. If I could, I would have pushed the story even more (written together with Lucio Battistrada, ed) in this direction but, unfortunately, they did not allow me. The idea was born during an occasional visit to the necropolis of Cerveteri and from the suggestion that, in fact, I felt in that circumstance, among those tombs, with almost palpable “presences” that hovered all around ». The film starts well, with a bloody killing with a bar (later it turns out to be a probe to photograph the Etruscan tombs) of a young couple secluded in the necropolis, and, despite a somewhat slow second part, manages to keep the suspense until the diabolical ending. Above all thanks to an accurate script and the delineation of the characters (again none really positive), which give depth to the story. The Argentine moments are to be found in the initial murder and above all in the motive that drives the young man Carlo De Mejo killing women in Spoleto: having witnessed the discovery of his father’s betrayal of his wife with a young dancer. The trauma suffered in childhood triggers the homicidal madness of the young man unable to have a “normal” relationship with women.

The Crimes of the Black Cat/Sette scialli di seta gialla (1972) Several fashion models are killed by a murderer who poisons a cat’s claws with curare. Each victim is given a shawl as a gift, which is laced with a chemical attracting the cat. The first such victim, Paola, had been in a relationship with a blind composer, Peter Oliver (Anthony Steffen) who overhears a conversation he believes may help him track down the killer. Oliver, aided by his butler Burton (Umberto Raho) tracks the cat to its owner Susan (Jeannette Len), who is murdered before she can reveal who has been using the cat. However, the identity of the killer is eventually discovered to be Françoise (Sylva Koscina), the owner of the studio employing the murdered models. Francoise had killed Paola after discovering that her husband Victor (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) had been having an affair with the young model, and had committed the other murders to help cover up the motive for the first killing. Production of Sette scialli di seta gialla began on 31 March 1972. The film has been described as part of a “boom” of “imitative whodunits” released after the success of Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), along with such films as A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971) and Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1974).  Alessandro Continenza and Giovanni Simonelli, who wrote the script alongside director Sergio Pastore, had previously collaborated on the screenplay for the 1966 spaghetti western Django spara per primo.  The film’s title has been noted as one of many giallo titles using either numbers or animal references, having been directly compared to Sette note in nero.

So Sweet, So Dead (1972)  Commissioner Mario Capuana investigates the murder of some women of good city society. First a general’s wife is found killed, then, two days and a week later, two more women are killed by a man with a masked face. Each was having an extramarital affair, and next to their corpse the murderer left a photo of the victims, immortalized with the lover, whose face was erased. The police groped in the dark until Capuana, having the bodies shown by Dr. Casali at the morgue, realizes that the women have been hit first in the face and then on the belly, and always have the same incisions. The policeman also notices the strange behavior of Gastone, the nurse, happy when he embalms the corpses.

The inspector thus goes to Gastone to question him, noting his unstable and manic behavior, as well as the macabre habit of keeping photos of the corpses that he embalms. Doctor Casali reassures Capuana, telling him that Gastone is a harmless boy. In the meantime, psychosis breaks out among the good women of the city, since it is clear that the maniac affects only them: in fact, he kills a fourth unfaithful woman in her home, indirectly causing the death of her paralytic husband. A girl who lives in the house next door witnesses the murder by chance, is seen by the perpetrator and tells her boyfriend everything.

Back home, the girl wants to report what happened to her mother too, but she doesn’t listen to her because she hurries to leave to go to the girl’s grandmother. During the train ride she is also killed by the maniac. In this last murder, Capuana notes that the woman, in addition to being unfaithful, was in turn betrayed by her husband, who is questioned by the commissioner, however, demonstrating an iron alibi. The following night, the maniac kills another woman, also injuring her lover, who at that moment arrives at the clandestine appointment and runs into the killer.

The police then devises a trap: they simulate the arrest of the maniac to bring out the real culprit. He telephones the police station threatening Capuana, telling him that he would kill his wife, since she too was cheating on him. Capuana, confused at first, discovers that his wife was cheating on him with his nephew, who in the meantime the murderer orders to leave the house to the sea where the meetings take place, because Capuana knows everything. Arrived on the spot, the commissioner witnesses the murder of his wife without intervening, then kills the serial killer, who turns out to be Dr. Casali.

SPOTLIGHT:Angela Covello
Baba Yaga (1973)
Torso (1973)
So Sweet, So Dead (1972)

Love is almost always of the victim, but it is never pure. It is a deviant sex that leads Rosalba Neri to cling tightly to Barbara Bouchet in Amuck (1972) by Silvio Amadio

Greta, a beautiful blonde American, is the new secretary to Richard Stuart, a famous novelist who lives on an island with his sexy wife Eleanora. Sally, the former secretary, had disappeared without a trace. What Richard and Eleanora do not know is that Greta has a secret motive for taking the job: to find out what happened to her lost lover, Sally.

Greta learns that Sally was accidentally killed in the heat of passion during one of the kinky sex games the Stuarts hold in their mansion from time to time; a hulking man-brute named Rocco lost control and strangled the girl. The bizarre couple then kill their butler when he attempts to blackmail them over the incident. All that remains is for Greta to be disposed of, then the crimes will never be uncovered. Eleanora lures Sally into a three-way private orgy with Rocco and herself, in an attempt to get the easily excited Rocco to repeat his careless crime of passion, one last time.

Abortion is the trigger for the murders of What Did You Do to Solange? (1972) by Massimo Dallamano is the first entry in a loosely linked series of film called the Schoolgirls in Peril trilogy. What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974) followed. Sex turns into tragedy when a girl is killed during an erotic intercourse a little too bold with a wooden phallus in Alberto Negrin’s Red Rings of Fear (1978)and in this case too she is a student, just like Naked Girl Killed in the Park (1972)

Prologue – Berlin 1945: while the city is bombed by the allies in a middle-class living room, an SS officer ties up a woman and her child and then sets off a bomb. A little girl watches and then walks away with the man. The woman before the bomb goes off pushes her son against the wall and uses his body as a shield.

Madrid 1972: the wealthy businessman Johannes Wanterburger is murdered at the Madrid Luna Park . His body is found at the exit of the horror tunnel: the killer struck during the journey inside the tunnel. The police cannot explain why a wealthy seventy-year-old entered the funfair tunnel alone with a bag containing a large sum of money.

A few days after the murder, it turns out that the wealthy businessman was insured for life for a staggering sum. Christopher Buyer, employed at the branch of the insurance company involved, is sent to investigate. If it were a suicide, the insurance would not have to pay anything.

Christopher arrives in Madrid and meets Catherine, Wanterburger’s beautiful daughter; a relationship immediately arises between the two. At the first outing Christopher takes Catherine to the amusement park and, after the girl falls ill, they have lunch at Ursi, the owner of a nearby restaurant. Christopher soon discovers that Catherine is seriously ill with heart but, despite this, decides to continue the relationship. The girl introduces Christopher to her father’s large villa where, in addition to her, her mother Magda and her sister Barbara live. Günther, the groom, Silvia, the housekeeper and Bruno, the butler work in the villa. Barbara does everything to seduce Christopher and, thanks to the umpteenth illness of her sister, one evening she succeeds.

The next morning Barbara is found dead, completely naked, in the backyard. In the woman’s hand the police find a button that Christopher recognizes as belonging to Gunther’s sweater. Meanwhile, taking advantage of a blackout, Gunther also stabs Silvia, apparently for no reason. However, the police discover that Günther, jealous, after killing Barbara with whom he had a secret relationship for some time, also killed Silvia. The case seems to be definitively closed when the police attribute the responsibility for the murder of Mr. Wanterburger to Günther, claiming that the stable boy would have killed the businessman who, probably, hampered his relationship with his daughter Barbara. But even after the investigation closes, Magda and Catherine continue to receive threatening phone calls from a stranger.

One night Mr. Wanterburger reappears incredibly in his house: his wife Magda, in an attempt to escape, seized by a terrible fright, landslide from the terrace losing her life. A few days later the man also appears to Catherine, in her apartment in the center of Madrid. The girl, suffering from heart disease, dies at the vision of her father who she believed dead. Only at this point is the mystery revealed: Christopher, cleverly disguised and made up, had pretended to be the wealthy billionaire, driving Magda to death and causing Catherine to heart attack, as the man is actually the son that Wanterburger had. attempted to kill with his mother in Berlin many years earlier. His thirst for revenge for the death of his mother (which saved him from the fatal consequences of the explosion) led to concocting the whole plan and, without actually killing anyone, getting rid of the whole family. Even old Wanterburger, in fact, had been killed by Ursi, the keeper of the inn at the amusement park, who was none other than Mark’s wife. Pushed to kill by her husband in exchange for a large sum and then seeing herself liquidated with a few coins, Ursi will kill her husband with a gunshot inside the tunnel of the amusement park, replicating the first murder. Surprised by the policemen, Ursi will run away, losing the life hit by the train Pushed to kill by her husband in exchange for a large sum and then seeing herself liquidated with a few coins, Ursi will kill her husband with a gunshot inside the tunnel of the amusement park, replicating the first murder. Surprised by the policemen, Ursi will run away, losing the life hit by the train Pushed to kill by her husband in exchange for a large sum and then seeing herself liquidated with a few coins, Ursi will kill her husband with a gunshot inside the tunnel of the amusement park, replicating the first murder. Surprised by the policemen, Ursi will run away, losing the life hit by the trainroller coaster .

Who Saw Her Die? (1972) In a French ski resort, a young girl wanders off from her carer and is murdered by a killer in a black veil, who buries her body in the snow. Years later, another young girl, Roberta Serpieri, is found drowned in Venice after being abducted by the same killer. Her divorced parents, sculptor Franco and Elizabeth, attempt to discover what has happened to their daughter. written by Massimo D’Avack, Francesco Barilli, Aldo Lado and Rüdiger von Spiehs; it was directed by Lado and Vittorio De Sisti.

My Dear Killer (1972) Following a mysterious decapitation (via mechanical digger) of an insurance investigator, Police Inspector Peretti is put onto the case. Slowly more people are found dead – a man supposedly commits suicide, a woman is strangled, another attacked in her flat – but all the clues lead to an unsolved case of kidnapping and murder. Can Peretti find the murderer, if his major clue is a little girl’s drawing?

The French Sex Murders (1972) A petty criminal named Antoine (Peter Martell) is blamed for the murder of a prostitute who was killed at Madame Collette’s exclusive whorehouse in Paris. He is sentenced to death by guillotine, and he swears revenge on everyone who helped convict him. At the last moment, he manages to escape from the prison – but is then decapitated in a motorcycle accident. A scientist Prof. Waldemar obtains the criminal’s severed head from the morgue for purposes of experimentation. The professor later turns up murdered, and then one by one, the prostitutes at Madame Collette’s begin turning up murdered as well. Everyone believes that Antoine is causing the murders to happen, and that he is wreaking vengeance from beyond the grave.

The Weapon, the Hour & the Motive (1972) Don Giorgio (Maurizio Bonuglia), a handsome priest who teaches in a convent, has been having affairs with two different women. He decides to break off relations with both of them, and soon after he is murdered. The police suspect one of the two women of the murder, but the field is narrowed when one of the two women has her throat slashed. The police learn that a little boy (Arturo Trina) witnessed one of the killings, but they’re not sure if he is reliable.

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