Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 23rd, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, January 12th, 1977
Director: Ferdinando Baldi
Writer: Fabio Pittorru
Cast: Sofia Dionisio, Massimo Foschi, Dana Ghia, Arthur Kennedy, Caroline Laurence, Loretta Persichetti, John Richardson, Rita Silva, enantino Venantini
DVD released: February 17th, 2014
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English, German
DVD Release: Camera Obscura
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: 26.99 EUR
Synopsis: A wealthy family’s getaway on a remote island should have been nice relaxing getaway; instead things quickly turn deadly as they are knocked off none by one.
Nine Guests for the Crime was directed by Ferdinando Baldi who’s other notable films include Goodbye Texas, Blindman and Terror Express. Key collaborators on Nine Guests for the Crime include screenwriter Fabio Pittorru (The Lady in Red Kills Seven Times, Wave of Lust), cinematographer Sergio Rubini (Emergency Squad, A Man Called Magnum) and composer Carlo Savina (Naked you Die, A Long Ride from Hell). This film’s screenplay was clearly adapted from Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (aka The There was none).
From its opening moments one gets the impression that Nine Guests for a Crime is not going to be your run of the mill film that follows almost to a fault the blueprint that countless other Giallo’s have followed. Sure there are many things in this film that have been establishes as staples of the genre like red herrings, black gloved killers the use of one location primary location to reinforce the helpless felt by the potential victims.
The film opens with a flashback, where a young man who making it with his lady on the beach and they are met by an angry mob that are out for blood. From there this angry mob chases down and murders this young man and then buries him in the sand. Without giving away to much more, this is key sequence that actually reveals more with each new viewing.
And though opening a Giallo in such a revealing way may seem to take away the impact of the film’s finale. This couldn’t be farther from the true, since this opening taste of murder gives the viewer something to abide them while the film goes off in completely different for the remainder of the first and act and middle act. It is not until this film’s final act that it goes full on Giallo as the bodies start piling up.
After the opening flashback and opening credits the film shifts more towards a melodrama as we are introduced to decadent family with many vices. Most notably a son who is sleeping with his father’s much younger wife who has a past as a call girl. Over the course of the first hour the film does a superb job setting up who everyone is and what their vices are?
Visually what is not to love about this film as it takes full advantage of its beautiful island location and more importantly makes sure that all the female cast and their assets are exploited for all they are worth. Surprisingly though there is only kill until the film’s final act, pacing never proves to be an issues as there is plenty of debauchery and other forms of entertainment on display. And when it comes to the kill scenes they all are well executed and committed with a different weapons.
Performance wise one would be hard pressed to find any faults in any of this cast performances. This film features several well known faces like John Richardson (Torso, Eyeball), Massimo Foschi (Last Cannibal World), Sofia Dionisio (Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man) and five time Oscar nominated actor Arthur Kennedy (Bright Victory, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) in the role of the patriarch of this decaying family.
Camera Obscura presents Nine Guests for a Crime in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look healthy, black levels and shadow detail is strong throughout and details generally look crisp. There are no issues with compression and edge enhancement while present it is very minimal.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Italian and two subtitle options have been included with this release, English and German. There are no issues with distortion or background noise. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise though things are rather limited, it is not that big of an issue since this is a dialog driven film. Also the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented throughout this audio mix.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 15 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a photo gallery, a featurette titled ‘Nine Little Indians’ with actor Massimo Foschi (26 minutes 4 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with film historians, Christian KeBler and Marcus Stiglegger, in German with English subtitles.
Topics discussed in the interview with actor Massimo Foschi include dubbing in Italian cinema, working with Ferdinando Baldi, shooting on location in Sardinia, the cast, how he had to eat few day old liver for a scene in a cannibal film and overcoming the limitations of a budget. Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Christian KeBler and Marcus Stiglegger inlcude The film’s opening flashback, mystery / thriller novels and their inspiration of the Giallo, the un-likability of the characters in this film, exploitative aspects of this film, the look of the film, Ferdinando Baldi, the cast and so much more.
Also included with this release is a DVD booklet that includes an informative essay about the film and a text based interview with production designer Giovanni Licheri. This essay is presented in dual text, English and German. This release also comes with multi-lingual menus, English and German. Overall yet another impressive release from Camera Obscura that fits in nicely with their ever growing Italian Genre Cinema Collection.