Written by: Johan Fundin on May 17th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy/Germany 1972
Director: Ferdinando Merighi
Cast: Anita Ekberg, Rosalba Neri, Evelyne Kraft, Howard Vernon, Pietro Martellanza, Barbara Bouchet, Robert Sacchi
DVD released:June 28th, 2005
Approximate running time: 90 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: During French Dialog Scenes
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
A Giallo on the verge of soft-porn.
Beautiful Euro babes become victims of a black-gloved maniac on a killing spree in Fernando Merighi’s gory and sexy giallo. In the early 70s a tendency arose to shoot these kind of urbanized thrillers at locations outside Italy as well, like London, Dublin, Athens, Prague or Copenhagen. This time around we find ourselves in the wonderful French capital.
The very first shot in the film shows in close-up the body of a man falling from the Eiffel Tower, a startling opening that is echoed by the first shot with the falling body in Takashi Miike’s, Dead or Alive 27 years later. Then the credits start rolling accompanied by an excellent soundtrack by Bruno Nicolai.
The sleazy story takes place in a Parisian brothel, run by Madame Colette (Ekberg). A regular client in the sex club, Antoine Gottvalles (Martell), a deranged young man with a hot temper, arrives one night to see one of the working girls, Francine (Bouchet). He enjoys bringing her presents, this time a bunch of jewellery he has stolen. Later that night, after Antoine has left, Francine is found dead in her bed, murdered. Unsurprisingly, Antoine who was the last person seen with the victim becomes quickly the main suspect and is now chased by the Police where Inspector Pontaine (a Humphrey Bogart look-alike Robert Sacchi) is in charge of the case. The hunted Antoine searches a place to hide and ends up at his ex-wife Marianne’s (Neri) apartment, a surprise visit that is not at all appreciated, neither by Marianne nor her lover.
Meanwhile, a certain Professor and doctor Waldemar (Vernon) who has lead the autopsy of Francine concludes that the prostitute died from a crushed brain caused by the force from a strong blow to her head by the use of a hard object, a lamp in fact, that was found at the scene of the crime. Soon other characters are introduced, like Roger, Prof. Waldemar’s young medical laboratory assistant, and the gorgeous Leonora (Kraft), Waldemar’s daughter. What Waldemar doesn’t know is that Roger and Leonora are in love, something that Leonora desperately tries to hide from her protective father. Typically for this kind of films, the plot is twisted and there are reasons to suspect more than just one character to be the killer…The death of Francine is only the beginning of a series of murders where each and every one has a connection to the brothel of Madame Colette.
The killings are pretty violent and gory in true giallo-style, including throat-slashings and decapitations, but most surprising is the innovative camerawork associated with the death scenes. Each murder is replayed four times in a quick and continuous sequence where the colour of the lighting is changed for each replay.
Mondo Macabro presents French Sex Murders in a brand new anamorphic transfer that is claimed to be the most complete existing version of the film. The colors look nicely saturated and the print used has a few minor instances of print damage. The English audio is sounds a tad thin. There are two scenes in French and they are subtitled in English.
Extras for this release include notes about the film, a large stills and poster gallery, deleted and alternate scenes, a documentary on legendary producer Dick Randall and previews of several other Mondo Macabro titles.
There are worse gialli out there. This one is actually not that bad as the cheesy title might suggest. French Sex Murders features a great cast including Anita Ekberg (who starred in four Fellini films), Howard Vernon (who worked with Woody Allen, Godard and Powell) and the giallo icon Barbara Bouchet, and the man behind the gory special effects is Carlo Rambaldi whose future work on Spielberg’s ET would land him an Oscar. It might not be a masterpiece but giallo completists might want to check it out.
This review originally appeared at Dark Discussion and is reprinted here with permission.