Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 21st, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 17th, 1977
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen
Director: Maurizio Pradeaux
Writers: Arpad DeRiso, Maurizio Pradeaux
Cinematographer: Aldo Ricci
Composer: Riz Ortolani
Editor: Eugenio Alabiso
Cast: Leonard Mann, Robert Webber, Vera Krouska, Antonio Maimone
Synopsis: A young woman’s murder on a train leads to more deaths when eyewitnesses threaten to blackmail the miller.
Death Steps in the Dark is Maurizio Pradeaux’s second foray into the Giallo genre, his only other film is this genre was Death Carries a Cane. Key collaborators on Death Steps in the Dark include editor Eugenio Alabiso (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Companeros, Almost Human) and composer Riz Ortolani (Goodbye Uncle Tom, Cannibal Holocaust).
Let’s start off by staying that the plot for this film is absurd! A killer losing their gloves before they kill their victim and then dealing with a blackmailer once only to have killer kill said blackmailer when they come back for more, instead of killing all witnesses. Fortunately these leaps of faith don’t derail this film to the point that all is lost. In fact the illogical nature of this film’s narrative is why this film holds up as well it does. Reportedly this film was meat not as a straight forward attempt at a Giallo, but a send up of the genre and in this regard the film actually does succeeded.
Things start off smoothly in Death Steps in the Dark as the opening moments leading up to the first kill as well executed. It is then after this opening kill, once the police involve themselves in the investigation that things get a little hokey. And though police have not always been portrayed as the most level head of characters in the Giallo genre, in this film they are deliriously awful at their job and this creates the majority of this films humor.
With that being said this leaves the real detective work to amateur sleuths who after a series of red herrings finally uncover the diabolical mastermind before this elaborate plot to cover up their initial crime that they bungled. Thank fully pacing is never an issue and getting to this film big reveal is always entertaining along the way.
Visually things are not as strong as they could have been, with the sex scenes actually being some of the least erotic you will ever encounter in a Giallo, while the kill the scenes all have the just the right amount of bloodletting. The standout moment in this film is a two for one kill scene where the killer stalks and kills his first victim on a rooftop. And then when the actual intended victim comes home the killer then attacks them while they are in the bath.
Performance wise the cast are best describe as adequate in their respective roles. The closest anyone leaves of a lasting impression is Leonard Mann (Forgotten Pistolero) in the role of this film’s protagonist who has been wrongly accused on the first girl’s murder. There is a scene where he is trying to hide from the cops and needs some info from a friend. So he shows up dressed in drag. This scene is definitely an eye opener.
The only release that I known of is a Italian DVD release via NoShame Italy.