Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 23rd, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1971 (Death Walks on High Heels), Italy, 1972 (Death Walks at Midnight)
Director: Luciano Ercoli
Writers: Ernesto Gastaldi, Mahnahén Velasco, Manuel Velasco, Dino Verde (Death Walks on High Heels), Sergio Corbucci, Ernesto Gastaldi, Guido Leoni, Roberto Leoni, Mahnahén Velasco, Manuel Velasco (Death Walks at Midnight)
Cast: Frank Wolff, Nieves Navarro, Simón Andreu, Luciano Rossi (Death Walks on High Heels), Nieves Navarro, Simón Andreu, Pietro Martellanza, Luciano Rossi (Death Walks at Midnight)
DVD Released: February 28th, 2006
Approximate Running Time: 108 minutes (Death Walks on High Heels), 102 minutes (Death Walks at Midnight)
Aspect Ratio: Both films are 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $34.95
Death Walks on High Heels: Nicole Rochard (Nieves Navarro) is a night club stripper who is being stalked by a killer who wants to known where her father has hidden his diamonds. After the killer visits her one evening Nicole decides to go England with a man she barley knows. The ever resourceful killer follows her to England and when she turns up dead the only witness too the crime is a blind man.
Death Walks on High Heels is a stylishly directed giallo that has a strong plot and cast. Nieves Navarro turns up the heat in this film as she plays a night club stripper. This is one of her stronger performances and even though she doesn’t get as much recognition as Edwige Fenench she is still one of the undisputed queens of the giallo’s. Luciano Rossi shows up once again in a supporting role. Unfortunately he is not given that much to do and he plays a more straight forward character then the crazy types he unusually plays.
Stelvio Cipriani is score is lush and full of many memorable music cues. It is one of his best scores. The killings in this film are not that graphic outside of one scene which happens late in the film. Death Walks on High Heels is a more wide open film then its predecessor the claustrophobic Death Walks at Midnight as it uses many locales and takes place in two countries. Most of the films narrative is told though a series of flashbacks that help fill in all the blanks. There are double dealings and several plot twists that lead up to one hell of an ending.Overall Death Walks on High Heels is a tense thriller that has all the clichés we have come to expect from the giallo genre.
Death Walks at Midnight: Valentina (Nieves Navarro) 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.
No Shame presents both Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight in anamorphic widescreen that preserves their original aspect ratios. No Shame also presents both of these films uncut for the first time ever in North America on DVD. The colors are vivid and nicely saturated through out as the early 1970’s décor is shown off in grand fashion. Black levels are deep and run solid through out as there is an exceptional amount of detail not only in the foreground but the background as well. There are no problems with compression or artifacts and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. Overall these progressive scan transfers look stunning and outside a few minor instances of print damage they look immaculate.
Both Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight come with two audio options. The original Italian language track and English dubbed audio language track that are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The audio tracks for both releases are crisp as dialog is sharp and easy to follow. The music blends in with the perfectly with the rest of the mix as there are no problems with distortion. On the English dubbed audio language for Death Walks at Midnight there is some noticeable background hiss, still nothing that ever becomes distracting. Overall considering the rarity of these films and their age all the audio options more then exceeded my expectations. Removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Extras for Death Walks on High Heels include the films Italian and English language trailers. Rounding out the extras for this film is a brief poster and still gallery.
Extras for Death Walks at Midnight include a brief photo gallery and the television version of Death Walks at Midnight which includes a few minor scenes with the police to pad the story. These scenes add nothing to the story and I wonder if it might not have been better if instead of offering the full television versions as a bonus if it might not have been better just offering these scenes as separately as a bonus. The television version is in English and there are no chapter stops. The opening credits are in an aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 and then the rest of the film goes to a full frame aspect ratio. The quality of the transfer for the television version is all over the place. There is print damage, faded colors and this version looks like it was sourced from a VHS source as there are tape rolls and tracking issues through out.
No Shame has also included with this release a collectable booklet which includes bios for Luciano Ercoli, Nieves Navarro, Frank Wolff and Luciano Rossi. The booklet also includes a text piece about Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight.
For this release No Shame has also included a CD of music composed by Stelvio Cipriani. The booklet also includes a track listing for all the tracks included on the CD. The tracks are from the following films Killer Cop, Blood, Sweat and Fear, Dear Wife, L Ispettore anticrimine, Ransom! Police Is Watching, Take All of Me, What Have They Done to Your Daughters?, The Cursed Medallion, Nightmare City, Due cuori, una cappella and Evil Eye. Overall this CD is a nice mix that takes a look at the various stages of Stelvio Cipriani’s career and the various genres he worked in.
The complete track listings for the CD:
1. “Papaya” from La Polizia ha le mani legate 2. “Mark il poliziotto (Suite)” from Mark il poliziotto 3. “Alfredo, Salomone E Il Grimaldello” From Cara Sposa 4. “Love Theme” From L Ispettore anticrimine 5. “La Polizia Sta a Guardare (Titles)” From La Polizia Sta a Guardare 6. “St. Michel” From Dedicato a Una Stella 7. “La Polizia chiede aiuto (Chase)” From La Polizia chiede aiuto 8. “Un Regalo Per Pasqualino” From Cara Sposa 9. “Emily’s Studio (New Edit)” From Il Medaglione Insanguinato 10. “La Polizia chiede aiuto (Titles)” From La Polizia chiede aiuto 11. “Masquerade” From Incubo Sulla Citta’ Contaminata 12. “Due Cuori E Una Cappella (Titles)” From Due Cuori E Una Cappella 13. “La Polizia ha le mani legate (Chase)” From La Polizia ha le mani legate 14. “Sotto I Ponti Di Parigi” From Dedicato a Una Stella 15. “Astaroth” From Malocchio 16. “La Polizia ha le mani legate (Investigation)” From La Polizia ha le mani legate 17. “Turning Point” From La Polizia Sta a Guardare 18. “Bloody Love” From Malocchio
The DVD comes in a slip cases that has three trays and there is an outer slip case that goes over the main DVD case. The DVD case art is different then the outer slip cases art. Both films are represented as Death Walks on High Heels is the front cover art and Death Walks at Midnight is the back cover art. Both covers take images from the film and they are surrounded by a plain white background that also includes drawings of iconic images form each film and the text from each of these covers resembles the text on the outer sleeve cover. Also included with set are two post cards one for each film and they each contain six lobby card replicas on each post card.
No Shame’s The Luciano Ercoli Death Box Set is sure to find its way into every hard core giallo fans collection. It is hands down one the best DVD releases of 2006, highly recommended.