Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 19th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1970
Director: Duccio Tessari
Writers: Artur Brauner, Biagio Proietti, Giorgio Scerbanenco, Duccio Tessari
Cast: Frank Wolff, Raf Vallone, Gabriele Tinti, Gillian Bray, Eva Renzi, Gigi Rizzi, Beryl Cunningham, Checco Rissone, Wilma Casagrande, Marco Mariani
BluRay Released: May 6th, 2014
Approximate running time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.75:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / VC-1 Video
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Raro Video USA
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: When his daughter disappears without a trace a father convinces a police inspector to take a special interest in finding his mentally challenged twenty five year old daughter. And though they put forth a strong effort to find his missing daughter, their investigation finally uncovers the truth about what happened to her. Not wanting to give up just yet her father continues to look for those responsible for killing his daughter, while the inspector proceeds with his investigation hoping to find those responsible before the dead girl’s father finds them and exacts his revenge.
Death Occurred Last Night was co-written and directed by Duccio Tessari who’s other notable films include, The Bloodstained Butterfly and Big Guns – Tony Arzenta. Death Occurred Last Night was co-written and produced Artur Brauner who is most known for his collaborations with Jesus Franco, most notably Vampyros Lesbos and She Killed in Ecstasy. Another key collaborator on Death Occurred Last Night and frequent collaborator with Tessari is composer Gianni Ferrio who’s other notable scores includes, A Bullet for Sandoval and Death Walks at Midnight. The screenplay for Death Occurred Last Night was adapted from a novel written by Giorgio Scerbanenco. Several of his novels were adapted by Fernando Di Leo into films, most notably Naked Violence and Milano calibro 9.
Structurally Death Occurred Last Night is an interesting mixture of two of the most popular genres in the first half of the 1970’s, these two genres being Giallo and Poliziotteschi. With this film leaning more towards the latter of these two genres. Also though there are elements from both of these genres that crop up throughout this film. The end result is a film unlike any that has come before or since it, making it a film that is in its own genre.
The initial set up is pitch perfect as characters motivations are always clearly defined. And one of this film’s greatest assets is how it introduces the distraught father and then to subtly push him into the background while a pair of detectives and a low life smuggler that they blackmailed into helping them search for the fathers missing daughter. Keeping the father away from the seedy investigation they are conducting ultimately makes his reemergence in the latter half of the film all the more potent and thus making his transformation from grieving father into a man with a vendetta all the more believable.
Considering that this films premise is about women being abducted and forced into a world of sex slaves, the content which lies within is handled in such a way that it is never exploitative. Also though there are many women in various stages of dress this films portrayal of them is never vulgar, which ultimately humanizes them and gives them added dimensions that is often lacking in other similar themed films. When it comes to despicable characters this film retains that right for those who are responsible for abducting the mentally challenged young woman.
From a production stand pint one would be hard pressed to single out an area of this production that does not excel and then some. The films visuals are outstanding as reinforce the events which are unfolding onscreen. The film is wonderfully paced as each new revelation is given just the right amount of time to sink in before unveiling the next. And though there are many detractors of this film’s odd score, it has a jarring effect that compliments that story hand really well.
The cast for this film are superb in their respective roles with the strongest performance coming from Frank Wolff (Cold Eyes of Fear) in the role of Duca Lamberti, the detective who persistence uncovers the truth about the missing girl. While this film’s most memorable performance comes from Raf Vallone (El Cid, The Godfather: Part III) in the role of Amanzio Berzaghi, the father of the missing disabled girl. Another performance of note is that of Gillian Bray (Virgins of the Seven Seas) Donatella Berzaghi, the mentally challenged young woman that has been abducted. Ultimately Death Occurred Last Night is an extraordinary film that firmly pulls you in and lingers in your mind long after its final reveal.
Death Occurred Last Night comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate. Details look crisp, black and contrast levels look very good throughout. DNR is kept in check and there are no issues with compression. Quality wise the source used is in great shape and the end result is one of Raro’s stronger transfers.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD Mono mix in English. Both audio mixes are in very good shape as dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. The soundtrack sounds appropriately robust and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. Range wise things sound better than expected considering the limitations of the mono source. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include a English language trailer (2 minutes 38 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and a introduction to the film with Chris Alexander editor Fangoria magazine (7 minutes 12 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) who provides a insightful analysis for Death Occurred Last Night. Also included with this release is a slip cover that has alternative cover then what is used for the Blu-Ray covert art inside the keep case and a eight page booklet with an extensive essay about Death Occurred Last Night written by Chris Alexander and a text bio / filmography for director Duccio Tessari. Overall Death Occurred Last Night gets a strong release from Raro Video.
Note: This film is also being released by Raro Video USA on DVD.