Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970)

Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970)‘Should we take bets on who dies first? The dead person wins.’

A weekend party on a private island turns deadly when the guests are murdered one by one. The motive would seem to revolve around the secret formula that several of the party want to buy, but it appears that someone will stop at nothing to obtain it, even murder…

Somewhat nonsensical but beautifully crafted Giallo from horror maestro Mario Bava. It was another last-minute call to save a troubled production for the director, who delivers on the assignment thanks to his technical expertise and filmmaking genius. Earlier involvement, however, would undoubtedly have made for an even better result.

Multi-millionaire industrialist George Stark (Teodoro Corrà) is determined to buy the secret formula for a new revolutionary manufacturing resin from scientist Professor Farrell (William Berger). The boffin has just lost his business partner in a lab accident, so some rest and relaxation on Stark’s private island seem to be in order. Berger brings along wife Trudy (Ira von Fürstenberg) but the weekend party isn’t just a foursome with Stark’s marriage partner, artist Jill (Edith Meloni). Also present are Nick and Marie Chaney (Maurice Poli and Edwige Fenech) and Jack and Peggy Davidson (Howard Ross and Helena Ronee). Poli and Ross are also business tycoons interested in Berger’s new process, and the three have arranged to join forces to buy it from him. The list of potential suspects and victims is rounded out by houseboy Jacques (Mauro Bosco) and game warden’s daughter, Isabel (Ely Galleani).

Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970)

The business triumvirate delivers their pitch to Berger, but he proclaims that he has no interest in money and quietly burns his notes. Fenech is busy enjoying the services of the hired help, while Meloni and von Fürstenberg try to keep their hands off each other, with the latter also the target of the amorous Poli. In short, if you’re looking for a murder motive other than financial, it’s probably best to assume that all the eight principals are likely spending quality time with each other in whatever combinations they fancy. And murder is afoot when Bosco turns up dead on the motorboat where he’d arranged another tryst with Fenech and later on, after the vessel disappears, as food for the crabs on the beach. Cut off from the mainland; one killing follows another, and the walk-in freezer starts to fill up with dead bodies.

Ultimately, the film is a triumph of technique over content. Bava’s visual sensibilities combined with the eye-catching sets, location, soundtrack and performances elevate a relatively poor screenplay to a level of entertainment the material does not merit. The director conjures beautiful images in both the studio and on location, the lighting, colours and framing of shots inside the beach house being particularly effective. The sets of Giulia Mafia and the production design of Giuseppe Aldrovandi allow Bava the space to position his actors, props and furniture into beautiful and striking compositions. The look is very much of its era, but it’s tasteful and economical. Less accomplished filmmakers of the period tended to overload their sets with pop art, objet d’art and clashing colours in a self-conscious effort to appear modern and relevant, but Bava and his team knew that less is more.

Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970)

Conversely, Pietro Ulimiani delivers a score that delights in confounding expectations. Rather than supply music to create suspense, the composer favours a bizarre stew of electronic melodies, jaunty tunes and occasional flourishes of rock music to counterpoint the action on the screen. It’s a very bold choice, but it makes sense. These are not characters the audience is supposed to invest in emotionally; they are shallow, greedy and selfish. So an element of gleeful comedy in their imminent departure from the action is entirely appropriate.

The location filming was done on the beach at Tor Calendar, south of Anzio and featured in many of Bava’s films. He uses it brilliantly here, the camera prowling around the rocky shore, shooting through plants to suggest potential victims under surveillance, and showcasing some beautiful shots of the beach house on the cliff and the pier running out into the sea. Neither house nor jetty existed, of course; Bava painted the structures on a sheet of glass, lined it up in front of the camera and shot through it, creating an almost perfect illusion.

Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970)

There are also some terrific set-pieces. Two men fight, knocking over a sculpture constructed from transparent, plastic spheres of different sizes. These balls bounce and tumble down a spiral staircase and across a tiled floor before falling into a bloodstained bubble bath containing a new victim. As the corpses pile up, they are hung up in polythene bags in the walk in-freezer beside sides of beef, apparently one of Bava’s ideas. There’s the almost wordless opening sequence where he introduces the entire cast of characters, not by telling us who they are, but by establishing something far more important: we’re not going to like any of them.

Unfortunately, Mario di Nardo’s slapdash script and the hurried production undermine a lot of Bava’s excellent work. The director turned the project down initially as he hated the screenplay, mainly because it was a thinly-disguised rehash of Agatha Christie’s ‘Ten Little Indians.’ Ironically, Christie was one of the authors published in Italy in the 1920s and 1930s in the wave of popular, cheap paperbacks that gave rise to the term ‘Giallo’ in the first place, so, in a way, she was an appropriate choice for adaptation. But Bava was not interested, and only agreed to consider the project if he was paid upfront. The producers went elsewhere, but their eventual choice pulled out at the eleventh hour, and they went back to Bava with a cheque. He accepted, even though the film was already cast and ready to begin shooting the following Monday morning; just two days away. As a result, Bava had no opportunity to rewrite the script or make any other significant changes.

Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970)

At least that’s the way that Bava told it. Whether his account is entirely accurate is open to debate. He was known to exaggerate somewhat in interviews and always claimed that this was his worst picture. It’s clear that the production did come together very quickly, but not so fast that he couldn’t get previous collaborators Aldrovandi and cameraman Antonio Rinaldi on board. He was also able to achieve some remarkable optical effects with his matte paintings. Perhaps he could have got all this in place over a weekend, or even during production; the man was undoubtedly a genius, so anything is possible. One change he was able to make was to the end of the picture. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever know the details of di Nardo’s original conclusion, but Bava’s coda is unsatisfying at best.

So, what is wrong with the script? Simply put, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and the more you think about it, the less sense it makes. For a start, there’s the setup. Industrialist Corrà invites Berger to the island getaway so he can get his hands on the secret formula. The businessman’s relationships with Poli and Ross are never clearly established, but the trio makes an initial combined offer of $1 million each. Poli attempts to double-cross his partners almost immediately by offering $6 million for the exclusive rights in secret, and Ross also wants the formula for himself. It’s clear that the three men know each other well, and, later on, Corrà is unsurprised by their treachery. Which begs a very obvious question: why invite them along in the first place?!

Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970)

Sadly, that’s just the beginning of the script’s unsuccessful struggle with logic and clarity. Without delving too much into spoiler territory, we do seem to have more than one killer on our hands, but, if we do, then they seem to be acting independently of each other, which is amazingly convenient. Also, commentators reviewing the film have fingered different characters as the killer, or killers! It’s not because the film is deliberately ambiguous or clever, it just not well-written. The first killing is a complete mystery; whoever might be responsible. The only explanation provided is that everyone has to die to eliminate all potential witness, but it’s a pretty weak justification.

The most plausible explanation is that Bava was not interested in the plot’s mechanics but was more focused on the visual presentation. He had rewritten scripts during filming before, so it’s possible that he did the same here and the story just got away from him. But he can’t have disliked di Nardo’s work too much; he was the sole credited screenwriter on Bava’s next film; the comedy-western ‘Roy Colt and Winchester Jack’ (1970). Of course, too much time has passed to allow definitive answers to these kinds of questions, but it’s fun to speculate. Another interesting point is that very few characters die on-screen, and then almost bloodlessly. The discovery of each corpse is memorable, though; be they crab food washed up on the shore, tied to a tree in their underwear or shot in the forehead mid-conversation on a balcony.

Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970)

What helps to keep the audience on board with the story and its contradictions is the cast’s performances. There are no real stand-outs but a solid ensemble, even if the characters are little more than roughly-sketched stereotypes. Von Fürstenberg was a real-life Italian princess who had married into Spanish royalty at just 15 years of age, divorced five years later and began her acting career in 1967. She starred in unusual Eurospy ‘Matchless’ (1967), caper movie ‘The Vatican Affair/A qualsiasi Prezzo’ (1968) with Walter Pigeon and Klaus Kinski, and was under-used in notable Giallo ‘The Fifth Cord’ (1971). Galleani was also born to the purple; the daughter of an Italian Count, she acted under several different names, most notably in Lucio Fulci’s trippy Giallo ‘A Lizard In A Woman’s Skin’ (1971).

Sit back, relax and prepare to enjoy an example of a director displaying his creativity, invention and skill. Just don’t try and work out exactly what’s going on. You might hurt yourself.

The Adventures of Hercules/Hercules II (1985)

The Adventures of Hercules (1985)‘The little people speak in the words of Zeus, and we must do what they say.’

Renegade gods have stolen the seven thunderbolts of Zeus, unleashing the forces of chaos on the universe. Hercules is tasked with recovering these objects of power, and his quest takes him to distant lands where he faces many dangers…

Sequel to the epic cheesefest that was ‘Hercules’ (1983) with ‘Incredible Hulk’ Lou Ferrigno returning in the title role and Luigi Cozzi back in the writer-directors chair. It’s another production of Cannon Films and the partnership of cousins Golan and Globus, but there are even closer links to the first film than all that.

Like the previous story, this one starts with some gaudy 1980s SFX purporting to show us the creation of the universe. However, rather than it being the result of some old piece of pottery exploding, this time the stars, planets and moons come from the goddess Imperia and her ‘seed of fire and light.’ Nice to hear a different take on the big bang theory, I suppose. The opening credits follow, accompanied by clips of Ferrigno’s labours from the first film. Eight minutes in, we actually get some new footage.

Evil priests are sacrificing the maidens of Fajesta to the god Anteus. He looks kind of like the monster from the Id taking a holiday from the ‘Forbidden Planet’ (1956) and doesn’t seem like good husband material. Concerned sisters Urania (Milly Carlucci) and Glaucia (Sonia Viviani) talk it over with some brilliant time-wasting exposition, courtesy of our writer-director. Carlucci decides they need some guidance from ‘the little people’ who ‘speak in the words of Zeus’. They turn out to be poorly-animated angels (played by Christina Basili) who float about in a fire. More exposition follows, and Carlucci collects Viviani and heads for ‘The Forbidden Forest’ where they will meet the Champion of Zeus.

🎵In the jungle, the mighty jungle…🎶

And, finally, with just over 17 minutes of the film gone, here’s Ferrigno in some new footage! He rides through a forest before being attacked by a stuntman in some kind of dog costume! Sadly, men in monster suits have replaced the stop-motion effects from the first film, and it’s no more evident than in this feeble fight scene.

Next, we meet the cabal of renegade gods, led by the evil Hera (Maria Rosario Omaggio). Her partners in crime are the lovely Flora (Laura Lenzi), Aphrodite (Margie Newton) and Poseidon (Ferdinando Poggi). Together they revive the villainous King Minos (William Berger) who you may remember as the best part of the previous film. Of course, he renews his partnership with the questionably clad Dedalos (Eva Robins), and together they unite to stop Ferrigno.

From then on, it’s the usual episodic story of quest after quest as Ferrigno seeks out the thunderbolts, but let’s stop here for some production information. You could be forgiven for thinking that this new adventure looks suspiciously like outtakes of Ferrigno, Berger and Robins from the first film cobbled together with footage of new actors standing around and providing exposition to link it all together. Sure, Claudio Cassinelli is back as Zeus, and he has a new Athena (played by Carlotta Green – actually, Lou Ferrigno’s real-life wife), but it all looks distinctly second-hand. But the truth turns out to be a little more complicated than that.

The Adventures of Hercules (1985)

Some days being Miley Cyrus’ stand-in was no fun…

The original ‘Hercules’ (1983) was shot back-to-back with ‘The Seven Magnificent Gladiators/I Sette Magnifici Gladiatori’ (1983) which also starred Ferrigno and was directed by Bruno Mattei. The story goes that, unhappy with that film, Golan and Globus hired Cozzi to shot some additional scenes. So impressed with the results were the cost-conscious cousins that they told Cozzi to carry on shooting, intending to use the new material to create a ‘Hercules’ sequel without telling Ferrigno what was going on! I don’t know why they kept it a secret from him, but I think it’s a safe bet that money might have been involved.

There are some guilty pleasures to be had in all this, of course. Ferrigno is attacked by slime people who seem to have worked harder on their gymnastics than their fighting ability. There’s a lousy recreation of Ray Harryhausen’s medusa sequence from ‘Clash of the Titans’ (1981). The monster from the Id is all-powerful but can’t stand up to a straight right delivered into the camera. Wacky sound effects blip and zap, and Berger and Robin’s double act is as entertaining as ever.

The Adventures of Hercules (1985)

Err…. probably best not to ask…

And then there’s that ending… Ferrigno and Berger fight, only for some reason they become animated, and I mean in the cartoon sense of the word. Berger becomes a T Rex, and Ferrigno eventually transforms into King Kong! It’s beyond cheap, beyond awful, and as hilarious as hell.

How composer Pino Donnagio must have laughed when he found out that his superb musical score from the first film was used again here. I wonder if he got paid.

By all reasonable notions of film criticism, this is truly an appalling picture. But it is a lot of fun.

Hercules (1983)

Hercules (1983)‘lt spits cosmic rays of deadly fire! Do you know what that means?’

Zeus bestows superhuman strength and intelligence on the infant Hercules. When he reaches manhood, he finds himself being used as a pawn in the power games of the goddess Hera and her mortal follower, King Minos, who ordered his parents slain when he was still a child…

An enjoyable retelling of the legend of Heracles (Hercules to you and me) directed by Italian Luigi Cozzi (as Lewis Coates). Television’s ‘Incredible Hulk’, Lou Ferrigno takes the title role, and the movie was a product of Cannon Films, who were owned by cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. They invested heavily in the home video market of the 1980s, and the shelves of many a high street rental store were packed with tapes of their often less than stellar productions.

This film begins (as all films should) with the creation of the universe, which was apparently caused by pieces of Pandora’s exploding jar. The gods have taken up residence on the moon (roomier than Mount Olympus, I guess) where Zeus (Claudio Cassinelli) holds court with the scheming Hera (Rossana Podestà) and goody-two-shoes Athena (the wide-eyed Delia Boccardo). By ‘holding court’ I mean they stand around and talk about the fate of humanity. Apparently, the race is facing its ‘hour of decision’ between good and evil, and Boccardo is concerned that the struggle is an uneven one. At her suggestion, Cassinelli attempts to redress the balance by bestowing an infant prince with the power of light which will give him a body ‘forged in the furnace of a thousand suns’ when he grows up.

Hercules (1983)

‘Blimey! Look at the Glutinous Maximus on that!’

And it’s not a moment too soon! A few seconds later, the youngster’s royal parents are butchered in a palace coup by the forces of the evil Minos (William Berger) and his sexy daughter Adriana (Sybil Danning). Thanks to a loyal servant, the child escapes the bloodshed but is cast adrift in an open boat. Cassinelli lends a helping hand (literally, thanks to some ropey SFX) and that doesn’t sit well with Podestà. She uses her animated finger lightning to set a sea creature on the child, but he tears it apart (with his strangely adult hands!)

Fast forward via an hourglass spinning in space and the little brat has grown into the massively muscular Hercules (Ferrigno) while Berger has somehow aligned himself with Podestà. Ferrigno knows nothing of his past, but Berger is fully clued up and summons Daedalus (Eva Robins) from Chaos (which is somewhere beyond time and space apparently) to help out. I’ve no idea who she is, but she certainly rocks a golden headpiece with bat-wing ears. Robins probably should have had a word with the wardrobe department about the rest of her ensemble, though. Anyway, she sends stop motion mechanical toys after Ferrigno which grow to giant size in Earth’s atmosphere (because of …science), and one of them kills his adoptive mother before he can chuck a pole at it.

Hercules (1983)

‘Does my bum look big in this?’

Searching for answers, Ferrigno enters a contest of strength to select a champion for King Augeias (third-billed Brad Harris in a one-scene cameo). The prize? To escort the lovely Princess Cassiopeia (Ingrid Anderson) to Athens. Of course, Ferrigno wins and completes a couple of tasks, or labours if you will, along the way. Just as predictably, Ferrigno and Anderson spar for a couple of minutes and then fall in love. But Ferrigno is betrayed by royal lackey Dorcon (Yehuda Efroni) and thrown into the sea wrapped in chains. When he breaks free, he runs into sorceress Circe (Mirella D’Angelo) whose youth and beauty he inadvertently revives by providing her with ten drops of his blood. In return, she answers a lot of his questions, and the two set out to defeat Berger and his minions via the gates of hell and Atlantis.

Yes, this is the sort of movie that barely stops to take a breath, Cozzi throwing everything at the screen that his limited budget can muster without any trace of apology. Atlantis appears courtesy of terrible model work that’s tinted bright green, a mechanical Hyrda shoots scarlet laser bolts from its eyes, and Ferrigno and D’Angelo visit Hades by walking across a rainbow. Almost everything that happens is accompanied by an endless selection of wacky electronic sound effects, and Cozzi’s script is full of frequently laughable dialogue with characters making important declarations and pompous speeches. Our old friend, Voiceover Man, tries his best to give proceedings some gravitas, but his constant repetition of things that the audience already knows isn’t really the best way to go about it.

Not surprisingly, the story isn’t all that accurate to the original mythology. There’s no mention of Hercules’ killing his sons or his inclination to general murder and mayhem. The legend as we know it today is an assembly of bits and pieces from several different sources, so, if you want to give the movie a break, I guess you could say it was written in the same spirit!

Hercules (1983)

‘I thought I told you to cancel our Netflix subscription.’

The chief joy here are the villains, of course, and Berger in particular, who plays everything with a knowing twinkle in his eye. His King Minos is laughably vague and idiotic, building a city on a live volcano and forcing the legendary phoenix to make its nest inside. A sound piece of town planning, I must say, although probably in contravention of several applicable health and safety regulations. Still, he does offer the bird a virgin bride from time to time to keep it happy. The underemployed Danning is also delightfully wicked and deserves props for managing to remain inside her costume for the entire run time when a wardrobe malfunction looks imminent at any moment. And Ferrigno? Well, his physique is certainly very impressive and, if his acting isn’t in the same league, he shows an easy charisma at times which could have been developed if he’d been given more opportunities. Sadly, such possibilities were limited due to a speech impediment resulting from his impaired hearing, meaning that he’s dubbed by a voice actor here.

If Harris’ appearance seems odd in its brevity, then this film was shot back-to-back with ‘I sette magnifici gladiatori/The Seven Magnificent Gladiators’ (1983) where he also appeared with Ferrigno. Director Cozzi is chiefly remembered for triumphantly silly ‘Star Wars’ (1977) knock-off ‘Starcrash’ (1978) starring Caroline Munro, a young David Hasselhoff and Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer. Cozzi began his career with bizarre science-fiction piece ‘Tunnel Under The World’ (1969), and further projects included Giallo ‘L’ assassino è costretto ad uccidere ancora’ (1975) and tatty ‘Alien’ (1979) copycat ‘Contamination’ (1980). Most infamously, he was involved with the hideous, colourised version of ‘Godzilla’ (1954), which was released in 1977.

Hercules (1983)

‘Have you ever seen a Valkyrie go down?’

Podestà first came to prominence in the title role of Robert Wise’s ‘Helen of Troy’ (1955), which also starred Stanley Baker and Brigitte Bardot. Working steadily until the mid-1960s, she finally hit paydirt with popular caper ‘Seven Golden Men’ (1965) and its sequel. Stardom (on the continent, at least) must have been within her grasp after those performances, but she only appeared sporadically afterwards. Danning has long been a cult cinema favourite. Her career began in Europe with sex comedies before she started getting supporting roles in bigger-budgeted Hollywood films like Richard Lester’s star-studded ‘The Three Musketeers’ (1973), and the hilariously inept ‘The Concorde… Airport ‘79 (1979).  A prominent role in Roger Corman’s ‘Battle Beyond the Stars’ (1980) proved pivotal and she went onto alternate between guest slots on hit Network TV shows and exploitation titles like ‘Chained Heat’ (1983), ‘Reform School Girls (1986) and ‘Young Lady Chatterley II’ (1985) with Adam West. She also starred in the title role of ‘Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch’ (1985), a film which almost has to be seen to be believed. 

If you’re looking for high-quality entertainment, then this is not the place to look, although it’s only fair to point out that Pino Donnagio’s rousing orchestral soundtrack belongs in a far better film. However, there is much to enjoy here; from the cheerfully ridiculous moment when Ferrigno flies a chariot through space to the scene-stealing Berger who plans to eliminate the gods for ‘Science! For the sake of science!’

Apparently, Cozzi and the producers originally intended the film to be far more adult in content, but Ferrigno violently objected after reading the script, insisting on a more family-friendly approach. It’s interesting to speculate on what Cozzi’s original vision for the project was like, especially considering the sheer number of beautiful women in the picture!

1980s video store cheese at its finest.

The Murder Clinic/La Lama Nel Corpo (1966)

The Murder Clinic:La Lama Nel Corpo (1966)‘Watch out, Robert! I’d be a difficult corpse.’

In the 1870s, a young nurse takes a new job at a private psychiatric clinic in the countryside. lt’s not long before she realises that the rambling old building holds a mysterious secret, and that the handsome doctor in charge may be involved with murder…

Much like Film Noir, it can be quite a challenge to provide an exact definition of the Italian Giallo sub-genre. Sure, there are some common touchstones; the hooded/masked killer whose identity is revealed at the climax, the beautiful women meeting graphic and bloody ends in the grip of his black gloved hands or at a slash from his wicked blade, and the psychological motivation behind his actions that often involve a flashback to a traumatic past or a perverse sexual hang-up. On the technical side, they usually mix sumptuous colour photography with striking interiors, props and set dressing. However, the plots don’t always stand up to close scrutiny and the casts were not usually required to portray a lot in the way of character development.

But the original definition of the phrase was somewhat broader. ‘Giallo’ is simply the Italian word for yellow and, in this instance, refers to a series of cheap paperbacks released nationally from 1929 by the Mondadori publishing company. They were such a hit with the public that many other houses joined in, mimicking the predominantly yellow cover designs. The Giallo was born. But if you’re getting excited about an obscure, radical and advanced branch of European literature, then l’m afraid you’re in for a big disappointment. These were not original works by forgotten authors, but simply re-prints of famous titles by American and British writers such as Raymond Chandler, Edgar Wallace and Agatha Christie! So, originally, the term ‘Giallo’ simply meant a ‘murder-mystery’ and this early example of the type still has a foot in that camp, although it is leaning towards the later films that we associate with the sub-genre today.

The Murder Clinic:La Lama Nel Corpo (1966)

She wasn’t going to bed until he’d killed that spider in the corner of the ceiling…

The story begins with pretty young blonde Mary (Barbara Wilson) taking a new job as a nurse at the remote psychiatric clinic run by Dr Vance (William Berger) and his wife (Mary Young). Although once seemingly destined for big things, a mysterious event in the past has condemned him to rural obscurity. Unsurprisingly, it’s a spooky old place and it’s not long before our young heroine is surrounded by strange events.

A hooded figure prowls the dark corridors, a mute patient checks out overnight (in more ways than one!) and there are heavy footsteps coming from the upper floors where only the doctor is allowed to go. Things get even more involved with the arrival of bad girl Giselle (Francoise Prévost), who tells an unlikely tale of getting lost in the woods after a coach accident. Matters quickly escalate into murder but just who is responsible and why?

Despite some solid and even mildly impressive aspects, this proves to be a somewhat half-baked concoction from director Elio Scardamaglia (hiding under the more American-friendly name of Michael Hamilton). On the positive side, we have the usual impressive interior locations, which were a distinct feature of European cinema at the time. Although underwhelming from the outside (a different location perhaps?), the clinic’s rambling maze of passages and chambers make a fine backdrop to the action. There’s also excellent cinematography from Marcello Masciocchi, whose muted colour palette may not possess the lush tones and shadings of a Mario Bava production but still helps to create a few memorable images.

The Murder Clinic:La Lama Nel Corpo (1966)

‘Don’t be a cad, Roger! Not until we’re married…’

Unfortunately, the film has problems, and these can mostly be laid at the door of the underdeveloped script by Ernesto Gastaldi. The story may just about hang together, but not all that much happens over the course of the 90 minutes, and the cast are often left simply creeping or running around the old house to little obvious purpose.

Berger only has a tiny handful of patients and we get zero insight into any of their problems or the treatment he provides. They include a man who sleeps a lot, another who is prone to bouts of violence (could he be the killer?) and an old woman who cuddles a stuffed cat (probably not a viable suspect). Also, Prévost may not have wanted to go ‘to the coast’ with her mysterious coachman but it hardly seems sufficient reason to knock him unconscious and watch as he’s trampled to death by horses. Why does she do it? The movie never tells us or explains who she is, and the inevitable conclusion is that she there as another pretty face and to pad the running time. There’s also a rather ridiculous ‘love story’ sub-plot which comes almost completely out of left field and is never remotely convincing. The rather slapdash approach is a bit of a surprise, given that scriptwriter Gastaldi was fast becoming the ‘go-to guy’ for this sort of thing, and had provided both direction and screenplay for the far superior ‘Libido’ (1965).

Modern fans of the Giallo are also likely to be disappointed by the obvious absence of two of the sub-genre’s most obvious fundamentals. Despite being carried out with a straight razor, the kills are almost bloodless, and there really aren’t that many of them. Similarly, the fairer members of the cast get to keep their clothes on, which is quite a change in this type of endeavour. These choices probably reflect notions of morality and the censorship that was in place on the continent at the time, but it does make things seem rather tame by today’s standards.

A project with some merit but let down by a weak and uninspired script that gives the cast little to work with, and short changes its potential audience.