Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 18th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, January 5th, 1973
Alternate Titles: The Tormenter, Trauma
Approximate running time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen
Director: Maurizio Pradeaux
Writers: Alfonso Balcázar, Arpad DeRiso, George Martin, Maurizio Pradeaux
Cinematographer: Jaime Deu Casas
Composer: Roberto Pregadio
Cast: Robert Hoffmann, Nieves Navarro, George Martin, Anuska Borova, Serafino Profumo, Simón Andreu, Luciano Rossi
Synopsis: A woman who is waiting for her boyfriend to show up accidently sees a murder as it happens.
Death Carries a Cane was directed by Maurizio Pradeaux and it is one of two Giallo he directed, the other one being Death Steps in the Dark. Key collaborators on Death Carries a Cane include screenwriter Alfonso Balcázar (A Pistol for Ringo, Lightning Bolt) and composer Roberto Pregadio (The Last House on the Beach, The Cannibals).
By the time that Death Carries a Cane came a knocking the Giallo genre was already in decline. And it should not come a as a surprise that the audience was starting get a feeling a Déjà Vu.
Content wise Death Carries a Cane bears a several similarities to Luciano Ercoli’s Death Walk’s at Midnight. Both films feature a heroine who witnesses a murder and this puts her life in grave danger most importantly they both utilize the ever so exquisite Nieves Navarro (Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion) in the role of the witness, albeit in much different ways. And the similarities do not end there as there are at least two more cast members from Death Walks at Midnight whom appears in Death Carries a Cane, Simón Andreu (The Blood Splattered Bride) and Luciano Rossi (Forgotten Pistolero).
Narrative wise Death Carries a Cane has all the ingredients that one would want in a Giallo. Unfortunately the ways in which said assets of the genre are employed greatly affect the outcome of this film. After a very good opening sequence in which young woman’s murder sets everything in motion the film goes slightly awry. As the film shift’s its focus away from its leading lady who saw said crime and puts the investigation into the hands of her boyfriend. From there things move along slowly but surely and things don’t quit get back on track until the films finale act.
And then it comes to the all important kill sequence’s there is a lot to be desired. Sure the killer has a disability that affects their mobility. And yet despite this the killer is able to outfox and subdue in a timely fashion its victims. Out of all of the kill scenes only one leaves any lasting impression and it is a death scene that takes place in a moving car. Besides this scene the bulk of the film and its kill scenes are rather bland even by Giallo standards.
As mentioned before this film’s biggest misstep is its misuse of its leading lady Nieves Navarro has is all but regaled to the background for large sections of the film. And it is safe to say that the moments she is in, especially the finale which involves a scene where her character hides in green house form the killer are this film’s most satisfying moments.
Without a doubt this film’s weakest link is its leading man Robert Hoffmann (Spasmo) in the role of Nieves Navarro’s characters boyfriend. He gives a wooden performance that makes him a hard protagonist to care for. There is one other performance of note and that would be Luciano Rossi is a minor role as one of this film’s many red herrings.
I know of at least three DVD release for Death Carries a Cane, the 1st one a German release via X Rated Cult, the 2nd one an Austrian release via Copernicus Film Distribution and the most recent release here is the U.S. via Full Moon under the alternate title Tormentor.