Night of Violence/Le Noti Della Violenza (1965)

Night of Violence:Le Noti Della Violenza (1965)‘l have a dentists’ appointment, otherwise everyone will call me Dracula.’

The young daughter of an ambassador is found strangled and it’s soon discovered that she was working as a high-class call girl. A series of similar attacks follow, with the surviving victims identifying the perpetrator as one famous actor after another…

Early example of an Italian ‘Giallo’ thriller that has some of the familiar elements of the sub-genre that inspired the American slasher craze that began in the late 1970s, but arranged to a slightly different formula. Yes, there’s the masked killer who preys on women in the night, but his attacks are unplanned and opportunistic; carried out on strangers, rather on specific individuals to achieve specific goals. Furthermore, with the notable exception of the initial murder, his attempts are always unsuccessful, interrupted by passers-by or patrolling policemen.

Unfortunately, although the story is pretty straightforward apart from the late twist, it’s poorly presented by director Roberto Mauri. Events jump around so much in the early stages that the identities of the main characters are never firmly established. After a while, we realise that our hero is actually Detective Inspector Ferretti (Alberto Lupo), but, other than the fact that he’s the investigating policeman, we never find out anything else about him; his character, his life outside the job or his back story. Similarly, the heroine is revealed as the murdered girl’s sister (Marilù Tolo) but her character is so underdeveloped that she never even gets a first name!

Night of Violence:Le Noti Della Violenza (1965)

‘More black eyeliner? I can hardly keep my head up as it is!’

There are also a bunch of side-plots which never really go anywhere; the film spends time in the company of an abusive pimp and his girlfriend, but as he’s not a viable suspect for the murder, their interactions just seem to exist to pad the run time. It also transpires that the prostitution ring run by madam Luisa (Dada Gallotti) is peddling hard drugs on the side and a whole section of the film is devoted to busting up this gang, which puts the main story on the back burner completely.

Obviously, this tangle of threads and inconsistent approach does make for a somewhat uneven end result. The film does have its champions who cite the almost expressionist black-and-white photography and shot composition. These are effective at times, but the vast majority of the film takes place outdoors at night and, without the contrast of better-lit scenes, this is likely to frustrate some viewers. The back story of the killer is original, though and a pleasingly modern twist, although some of the final shots of the big reveal are somewhat crude and border on exploitation cinema.

What really lets the film down is its lack of focus on the core story. It often meanders without much purpose and leaves crucial questions unanswered. It’s never satisfactorily explained why the ambassador’s daughter has chosen to turn tricks on the side, or who makes the silent phone calls that plague her on the night of the murder. These seem like they are going to be major parts of the puzzle but are simply forgotten. It doesn’t seem likely to be the killer on the other end of the line, either, as he chooses his victims at random throughout the rest of the film. I suppose he could have just had a thing for women who disrobe beside bedroom windows without pulling the shades down? And why does he choose to disguise himself as a series of apparently popular actors? And where does he get the masks from to do it? Questions that the film just ignores.

Not a bad film by any means, but rather disappointing.

A 008 Operazione Stermino (1965)

A 008 Operazione Stermino (1965)‘It’s all in my book: ‘How to be a secret agent in 10 days’…’

An evil super villain kidnaps a top research scientist and tries to get his hands on the boffin’s secret invention; a device which will block radar signals. Of course, it’s imperative that the technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, so a special agent is dispatched to sort it all out.

Unremarkable mid-1960s Eurospy effort with this week’s ‘Bond On A Budget’ played by German actress Ingrid Schoeller. Yes, it’s a woman! Of course, she’s immediately saddled with a male partner from British Intelligence (Alberto Lupo) but, surprisingly, she still gets to call most of the shots. It’s the only way this effort differs from the hundreds of similar films being made at the time; plot and characters being completely predictable, and the story rarely straying from the obvious formula. Schoeller does do some fighting, shooting and snogging, but none of it is very edgy or convincing. However, the approach is still to be applauded when nearly all the women in the genre were simply femme fatales, or just window dressing.

Inevitably, there are several occasions when Lupo takes on the heavy lifting, particularly after their car has been sabotaged on the way to Switzerland. Actually, when that happens, I couldn’t help feeling a better outcome would have resulted if he’d stopped trying to grab the wheel and let Schoeller get on with it! Curiously enough, Lupo looks a lot like future a James Bond, George Lazenby, but is probably best remembered now for playing the title role of the silly, but entertaining, ‘Atom Age Vampire’ (1960).

A 008 Operazione Stermino (1965)

‘No, the name’s not Bond. Whatever gave you that idea?’

The action scenes are reasonably staged, if unimaginative, although there is some interesting design work on the anti-radar device. On the debit side, the gadgets are limited to hidden cameras and microphones, and the villains are fairly colourless, although one shoots metal blades from what appears to be an artificial hand.

This was the first film in the genre by the prolific Italian director Umberto Lenzi, who knocked out about half a dozen of these pictures in the mid-1960s. Most of them were unremarkable, but did include the slick ‘Super Seven: Calling Cairo’ (1965), which is one of the better examples of the type. Later on, he became infamous (in the UK at least) as the man behind a couple of the horror flicks banned as part of the ridiculous, right-wing media-created ‘Video Nasty’ scandal of the early 1980s.

A very middling example of the Eurospy genre.