And so it came to pass that Shameless Screen Entertainment was born, and would provide to the hungry crowds those films which were previously unavailable to them, and all the world would rejoice, while their DVD collections become more and more yellow. Or, if you're Italian, 'giallo'.
It's always a pleasure, never a chore, when Shameless provide us with new Italian gems to review, and tonight is certainly no exception. Yours truly was foaming with excitement, having never managed to seen either of these entries from the heyday of blood and black lace. First up, prepare to Strip Nude for Your Killer with the gorgeous Edwige Fenech, before George Hilton does a lot of talking with the rest of the cast in My Dear Killer.
Tonight's Zombie Club was brought to you by Zomblee in association with Shameless and lots of boobs.
Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975)
Plot Mysterious killer stalks Italian photography studio.
Zomblee I was a Strip Nude virgin before tonight, somehow this one just kept eluding me, and I'm glad because it was funny to see Jim get so excited about it during the lead-up to Zombie Club. Within the first ten minutes, we were all happy men, deep within quality giallo territory. The first frame depicts a doctor's head in between a woman's wide-open legs during an abortion procedure, then she dies, before the doctor gets murdered by a black leather-clad assailant in a motorcycle helmet. Cut to the local swimming baths where Carlo, AKA letchy photographer in outrageous swimming trunks, starts hitting on a pretty young thing, promising to make her famous. Before you know it, "she's stripping nude!" (Rawshark), but not for her killer.
Back at Albatross Studios, Carlo shows off his new talent to the crew, one of whom is the gorgeous Edwige Fenech, sporting a sexy close cropped haircut which Rawshark thought made her look like a Vulcan. Soon, Edwige gives Carlo the wonderful gift of fellatio in the darkroom, before a studio employee gets murdered. Then, someone else has sex, then someone else gets it, and Strip Nude basically continues this pleasing cycle of events until virtually everyone else is dead. And you know what? It's really fucking difficult to play Sherlock Holmes here - I had no idea who the killer was!
Stripe Nude for your Killer is a thoroughly enjoyable giallo, and definitely one of the sleaziest, which is no surprise given that director Andrea Bianchi also helmed Nights of Terror. There's a lot of flesh on show here, almost like the wardrobe department went on strike for most of the production. Which is absolutely fine when sexy Italian girls are walking around bare-bummed, but unfortunately not so pleasant when huge fat men, like the studio owner, decide to take their kit off ("Stop showing his big pants! Those are the biggest pants I've seen since Blood Feast" - Jim)
So, there you have it - lots of big pants, which contain bodies of all shapes and sizes, a cool looking motorcycle killer who cuts people up, and a gorgeous Vulcan-esque Edwige Fenech to drool over most of the time. What's wrong with that? In fact, we were all quite taken with Fenech, I have a feeling she'll be getting her very own Zombie Club very soon.
"Did I ever tell you you look terrible with your clothes on?"
Rawshark Strip Nude for Your Killer sets up it’s nudity stance right from the off with a fairly explicit backstreet abortion scene complete with full frontal shots of hairy 70s Italian minge (”Right, let’s crack on with it” - Jim). Unfortunately the girl dies during the procedure, whilst the performing doctor is killed shortly after, as Zomblee has already stated, by a black-suited motorbike dude.
Cue credits, and we are immediately introduced to our awful swimming trunk wearing hero Carlo, as he flirts with, and pulls, a wannabe glamour model (Lucia – Femi Benussi), shagging her in the sauna with seconds of speaking to her. Not long after that, Carlo finds himself on the receiving end of ‘Elvin girl’ Magda’s attentions (”Dark room blow job – you don’t see that in every movie – giallos rock!” - Zomblee) whilst Lucia heads off for some girl-girl action as the black bike killer carries on the killing rampage by offing Mario. Thus the film plays out with lots more nudity (and I mean A LOT of nudity) and red herrings as we hurtle towards the ‘whodunnit’ conclusion.
There is certainly a lot to recommend about Strip Nude. On top of the ubiquitous nudity and cleverly crafted screenplay, we also get a great soundtrack, some top performances and some very strange characters indeed. Take the gravely-voiced pervy fat guy who tries it on with Doris for instance. He pleads with Doris to have sex, yet unfortunately peaks too early and ends up crying on her breast. As if that wasn’t enough, he then tries to pay her for her troubles (whilst wearing the biggest underpants ever seen), but she exits, leaving our poor pervy friend to resort to the comfort of his blow-up doll before he too is offed by the motorbike killer.
Ok, so the ending may be a bit of a letdown in terms of high-action climaxes, but at least we get a bit of explicit gore (“Cut boob off, cut penis off!” – Jim), the answer to who the killer was (none of us guessed it) and a very bizarre last scene reference to anal sex between the surviving heterosexual couple. Ah, those crazy days of 70s Italian giallos…
”What’s that knife for?”
Jim You know what? I really was very excited about bringing this to Zombie Club. It’s not often I’ve seen a giallo that both Zomblee and Rawshark haven’t, so I was particularly pleased when those guys at Shameless Films sent me the screener for this beauty, especially considering how outrageous the amount of nudity is. And I’m not talking mild flashes of flesh, many scenes involve plenty of full frontal nudity where the characters happily chat for a while and then make out, and they make out for a while too ("Great movie Jim, great movie…" – Zomblee). God bless those Italians.
So yeah, abortion goes wrong, cut to photographic studio where loads of chicks of various shapes and sizes (some thin like Edwige Fenech, some with traditional bigger hips like Femi Benussi – "She's a hippy chick." – Rawshark) undress regularly and get photographed. Then there’s this cycle of sex and death that both Zomblee and Rawshark mentioned, as the not particularly large cast are whittled away until, well, there aren’t many characters left that haven’t either been chased by the killer or, in one twist in the final moments, haven’t been photographed with the killer. In fact, by the final few scenes there was only one character that it could possibly be and it was, but I found it quite hilarious that neither of my zombie colleagues could work out who. Alcohol, smokes and Zombie Club does affect the memory something awful, it’s true, thank God I’d seen the film before eh?
Still, the film is very well made, the script zips along, the shot compositions are quite cheeky if you catch my drift, and the score is one of those that make me make funky Lalo Schifrin style hi-hat noises through my teeth, my to everyone else’s annoyance. Top giallo then, made infinitely better by the ridiculous amount of nudity. Have we already mentioned the nudity?
Hats off to Shameless Films too for releasing a film sold in your High Street store with more boob shots on the back of the box than any other DVD I’ve ever seen shy of porn. Brilliant.
"If you're worried about getting pregnancy I have an idea."
Director Andrea Bianchi
Cast Edwige Fenech
Runtime 98 mins
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My Dear Killer (1971)
Plot It's all about the Moroni case.
Jim Well, with the titillating Strip Nude out of the way, it was time for My Dear Killer, another rare giallo with ’Killer’ in the title – hence the evenings theme – and since I chuckled all the way through it when I reviewed it on it’s original release, I figured it’d make great Zombie Club fodder. The opening scene alone had my jaw on the floor, and I knew the guys would dig a guy getting his head ripped off by a big green industrial digger, so that was that.
I had actually forgotten how convoluted the plot was of this film (”I’m not really following…” - Rawshark), especially for the second movie of the night, so let me clear it up for you now. Essentially the guy that dies in the opening digger death scene is an insurance inspector named Paradisi, who previously was investigating an claim relating to a kidnapping case that went wrong. The kidnapped girl and father were killed when her father bungled the ransom drop off, and Paradisi was getting close to the killer and so suffered death by digger. Luca Piretti, a local detective that says ”Good Morning” a lot (”Everyone’s saying it, they love it!” - Zomblee) and has a whingy wife, starts investigating and the killer starts killing more people to cover their tracks. And we’re none the wiser right up until the Agatha Christie style denouement ending.
Along the way it could have been anyone – this film had so many red herrings it’s ridiculous, but that’s part of the charm. The chauffeur, the school teacher, the uncle, the father, the cook, the guy that lives in the house in the quarry (”Now I understand, the people go to the house!” - Rawshark. No, that’s not it…), his crazy old girlfriend, the sculptor with an unhealthy interest in underage models, and so on - the list is endless. And no, the guys didn’t work this one out before the end either, but after their poor deduction skills at the end of Strip Nude I was expecting nothing less.
”It’s about time for another murder!” said Zomblee, clearly giving up on trying to put the clues together to work out who did it, and I can hardly blame him considering how much wine we quaffed, how late it was and how complicated a giallo this was. Still, we did get that digger death, a decent comedy power saw POV death, and a few other joys along the way, including a really bizarre scene where the camera pans from a couple making out in a window to a rubber glove – perhaps the killers glove - on a clothes line. "I was writing titty when the glove appeared, so I've written titty glove.". Yes Zomblee, that pretty much sums this baby up.
Rawshark Yes, My Dear Killer, is another tangled Giallo that managed to outfox us all with it’s clever plotting, although next to Strip Nude, this film was far more restrained in the nudity and kissing department, as Jim observed - ”It’s not quite as ‘tongues-out’ as the last movie is it?” Grabbing you right from the start with the quite stunning ‘digger decap’, we’re swiftly introduced to Inspector Luca Peretti as he tries to find a link between the opening death, and a recent kidnapping incident, the Moroni case.
George Hilton (and his moustache) is great as our lead cop who likes to say ”Morning!” a lot and eat great lunches (”Sandwiches and beer – brilliant!” - Zomblee), but it has to be said that the film is very conversation heavy, and needs to be followed very carefully – not something that comes naturally during the second film at a Zombie Club evening. Luckily Jim was on hand to explain the plot to both Zomblee and myself, although quite frankly we could have done without the taunting towards the end when neither of us had a hope of guessing who this giallo’s ‘killer’ was - ”Yeah, come on guys – haven’t you worked it out yet?”. Er.. no actually.
Amidst the conversations and police procedures there is an entertaining buzz saw murder and one of the best sunken lounges you’ve seen on film in a long time. The acting is mostly top-notch and there is a very effective Morricone score, all of which adds to a giallo that is less gratuitous than most (although be warned - there is one slightly uncomfortable scene with a naked young girl), but very satisfying if given the full attention it deserves.
”Did you come about the Moroni case?”
Zomblee Definitely one of the more outrageously convoluted gialli, My Dear Killer nevertheless generates interest not least for possibly one of the the most amusingly bizarre deaths I've ever witnessed in this, or indeed any other, genre. As a bonus, you don't even have to press the fast forward button to see it, because this incredible 'decap' (as we like to call them at ZC) occurs in the first few moments of the movie, when a construction dredger grabs it's victim by the head and, well, you can guess the rest.
The remainder of the movie follows Inspector Luca Peretti (giallo favourite George Hilton) as he ties together the obligatory plethora of clues and characters, while also drawing on "the Moroni case", about a young girl and her father who died while being kidnapped years prior. Prepare to have your wits tested as director Tonino Valerii ducks and dives through subplots and suspects like they're going out of fashion, mostly at the expense of violent death scenes, but eventually we are treated to a tasty buzz saw sequence involving an unlucky school teacher who, after opening the door, smiles and says, "Oh, it's you." before getting the saw. How deliciously giallo.
Valerii uses some great locations, in particular the old quarry, which is central to the story, while colourful characters like old Luigi, who plays "the freebie game" (collecting and stashing garbage from the lake) help to keep things relatively vibrant when you're at risk of plot-induced asphyxiation. Apart from observations on the likelihood of procedural aspects ("I don't think that's the last we'll see of the filing room" - Jim), and how "Giallo killers are a bit like Milk Tray Men" (Rawshark), we had pretty much no alternative than to give My Dear Killer as much concentration as it deserved. Certainly not for all tastes, though.
"Well, do you know who the murderer is?"
Director Tonino Valerii
Cast George Hilton
Francesco Di Federico
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Did we get the order of tonight's films wrong? See, the thing is, if we watched My Dear Killer first, it would have been easier to follow, right? It's not one of those movies where you can just switch off, if you want to get everything it has to offer. But I guess if we ended up watching the wonderful Strip Nude for Your Killer second, we might not remember as much of it as we do, and trust me when I say it's definitely one of those experiences you want to remember. Except for the big fat guy in his pants. That was horrible.
See you next time for daft 80's possession hokum with some Night of the Demons movies.
25th Oct 04 Fires blaze uncontrollably as smoke billows from damaged buildings while sirens wail indiscriminately over the screams of the living as they run for their lives, pursued at break-neck pace by the recently deceased.