Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 11th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, November 17th, 1972
Director: Luciano Ercoli
Writers: Sergio Corbucci, Ernesto Gastaldi, Guido Leoni, Roberto Leoni, Mahnahén Velasco, Manuel Velasco
Cast: Susan Scott, Simón Andreu, Pietro Martellanza, Luciano Rossi
DVD Released: July 21st, 2003
Approximate Running Time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL
Retail Price: OOP
Valentina (Susan Scott) a fashion model agrees to try a new hallucinogenic drug at the request of a reporter friend of hers who wants to do a story of the drugs after affects. Valentina witnesses a woman being attacked by a man with a metal spiked glove with while she is under the influence. When he reporter friend publishes the story her identity is exposed and now the man with the metal spike wants her dead. When no one believes her story she is now forced to solve the mystery herself. Will Valentina unmask this madman or will she become his next victim? The story for Death Walks at Midnight was written by Spaghetti Western director Sergio Corbucci who is most famous for his film Django. Ernesto Gastaldi who helped write the screenplay for Death Walks at Midnight is no stranger to the giallo genre having written films like The Case of the Bloody Iris, All the Colors of the Dark and Death Walks on High Heels. Luciano Ercoli only directed handful of films achieving his greatest successes directing the following giallo’s Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion, Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight.
Death Walks at Midnight structure wise is your standard giallo. Even though it isn’t as sleazy as some of its contemporaries it more then makes up for it through its sadistic ritual killings of a spiked gloved killer who punches their victims in the face and when they remove the glove pieces of flesh fall of the glove. Susan Scott is the films strongest asset she is a voluptuous heroine who can take care of herself when in imperil. During the course of the movie she proves that she is tough as nails time and again. Death Walks at Midnight is blessed with a strong supporting cast with euro regulars like Luciano Rossi who plays one of the heavies and like usual in what little time he is on screen he manages to steal the show. Luciano Ercoli fills every frame with interesting compositions as he keeps the action moving at a steady pace. He also perfectly balances Valentina’s more light hearted scenes with the scenes of her in danger which helps build up tension to the films finale. Gianni Ferrio’s jazzy score beautifully captures the essence of the films hallucinogenic feel and Valentina’s paranoia. The films flashback murder scenes are expertly crafted set pieces that are reminiscent to some of Dario Argento’s more brutal set pieces. Death Walks at Midnight is a trashy giallo that doesn’t take it self as serious as some of its contemporaries which adds to its overall appeal.
Death Walks at Midnight is presented in anamorphic widescreen that frames the image at an aspect ratio of about 2.00:1 instead of its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The color palette beautifully capers the films vintage décor. Print damage is minimal overall source material used is in great shape and grain is kept to a minimum. Despite the speculation over Death Walks at Midnight’s original aspect ratio everything appears to remain in frame on this DVD release from Mondo Macabro.
Two audio options English and French language tracks have been included for this release both in Dolby Digital stereo. Unfortunately English subtitles have not been included event though they are mentioned on the box for the French language track. The overall sound quality is pleasing as all the action and dialog easy to follow. The audio tracks are clean for the most part with some minor hiss and there are no problems with distortion during playback.
Extras include a text interview with Luciano Ercoli and Susan Scott as well as cast and crew bios for Susan Scott, Simon Andreu, Luciano Rossi, Claudie Lange and Luciano Ercoli. Rounding out the extras is a seventeen minute featurette “Death Walks at Midnight and the giallo genre” in which Adrian Smith gives a brief overview of the giallo genre. This featurette leaves a lot to be desired as most of the content any seasoned giallo fan will already know and I would suggest checking out Adrian Smith’s book on the giallo genre “Blood and Black Lace” instead. Overall Mondo Macabro gives Death Walks at Midnight the red carpet treatment giving the film it best home video release to date with some interesting extras. The aspect ratio controversy aside Death Walks at Midnight is a giallo from the genre’s golden age that has held up better then most of its contemporaries.