Written by: Nick Frame on September 15th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: I1972
Director: Aldo Lado
Cast: George Lazenby, Anita Strindberg, Nicoletta Elmi, Adolfo Celi
DVD released: August 25th, 2008
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Shameless Films
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £12.99
Aldo Lado did not make many films but the Italian directors output was always memorable, with notable gialli such as Who Saw Her Die? being reviewed here as well as Short Night of the Glass Dolls. He also directed the notorious Night Train Murders which up until recently was never officially released in the UK. The giallo genre usually conjures up Argento and Sergio Martino but during the 70’s just about everyone in Italy was giving them a go! Thankfully Lado’s efforts were definitely worth a look and not just cheap rip offs!
Our story begins in 1968 in a snow filled Megeve, France with the brutal death of a little red headed girl by an unknown black veiled assailant. With the case going cold, we fast forward 4 years to Venice and ex 007 George Lazenby is Franco, a famous sculptor, who is being visited by his little red headed daughter Roberta (Nicoletta Elmi, Profondo Rosso), the product of a failed marriage to fashion model Elizabeth (the lovely Anita Strindberg, The Scorpions Tale) However tragedy is just around the corner when Roberta is taken away while playing with her friends and later found floating in the dank canals of Venice while dad Franco was being serviced by blonde bombshell. The same black veiled killer from 4 years ago has struck again! Racked by guilt Franco, joined by his estranged wife, goes on the hunt for the killer himself when it seems the local police have come up with nothing!
This is a very strong entry into Italy’s marvelous murder mystery genre, with striking visuals and POV shots from the killer and a superb soundtrack from Ennio Morricone. Add to this many red herrings, brutal murders and nudity and we are cooking with gas! However it also has few weak moments with the killer actually being difficult to pinpoint and their reasons for murder not really properly explained, which was an element that left me irritated and thinking I’d missed something important earlier in the film. I’m nitpicking though and Lado has constructed a very stylish movie that actually predates Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now by a year, just in case the plot sounded familiar.
The cinematography by Franco di Giacomo transforms the beautiful city of Venice to a place that is much more murky and dangerous than one might imagine also add to this the horrific plot of child murders and the undertones of possible sexual perversions towards them and we have an altogether more sinister movie. I’ve mentioned the soundtrack but this is definitely one of Morricone’s best, with the use of a children’s nursery rhyme providing the spooky at the right time! Lazenby is an odd choice, which is compounded by some dodgy dubbing, so it is hard to truly judge his performance, but he is ably abetted by Anita Strindberg, Nicoletta Elmi and Adolfo Celi (Thunderball & Diabolik). It would also have been interesting to see what other gems Lado might have created if his career had not gone another way, surely someone as talented as this did not need to go on and make schlock like The Humanoid!
Presented in 2:35:1 widescreen, the image here from Shameless is very good and perhaps only a little softer when compared to the US Anchor Bay version, which formed part of The Giallo Collection from 2002. Audio wise the 2.0 mono English track is fine and the haunting score comes through loud and clear, with no hiss or distortion to speak of. English subtitles are included for when French is spoken but none for the film as a whole. The dubbing is also pretty ropey to say the least and I’d be interested to get my hands on the Italian Series Z release to see what better dubbing might add to an already fine film!
As usual with Shameless, the only extras are the Theatrical Trailer as well as trailers for future releases. The AB version contained a nice 11 minute interview with Lado, but it would have been expensive for Shameless I imagine to get the rights to that vignette.
Overall a great giallo and one for UK fans to pick up if this is missing from their collection!