REVIEW BY-STEVE GENIER
DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS (1971/ ITALY/SPAIN)
DIRECTOR-LUCIANO ERCOLI CAST-SUSAN SCOTT (NIEVES NAVARRO), FRANK WOLF, SIMON ANDREU, CLAUDIE LANGE, CARLO GENTILI and GEORGES RIGUAD.
DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT (1972/ITALY/SPAIN)
DIRECTOR-LUCIANO EROCLI CAST-SUSAN SCOTT (NIEVES NAVARRO), SIMON ANDREU, LUCIANO ROSSI, PIETRO MARTELLANZA, CARLO GENTILI, IVANO STACCIOLI and FABRIZIO MORESCO. SOURCE-NO SHAME ENTERTAINMENT (DEATH BOXSET 3 DVD COLLECTORíS EDITION / NTSC / REGION 0 / 2006)
Where does one start with when dealing with such a high profile set of film that stick out in every giallo fanís mind and heart. Though one of these fine examples from the annals of a highly under appreciated director such as Luciano Ercoli (FORBIDDEN PHOTOíS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION), that film being DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT and itís earlier release under another of the genreís better shiny disc keepers, Mondo Macabro for the European market. Still, even though they did a wonderful job with their hard labor, it was still missing something. That being itís predecessor, DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS. Yes, double exposure to one of Euro-cultdomís stunning beauties, Spanish hottie Nieves Navarro or better known as Susan Scott. With the two filmís finally back to back and completed with a third CD, a compilation of yet another major figure in many Euro-Cult films, Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani. How can any one fan not be tempted to gobble this set up upon first look. No Shame has once again pulled all the right strings in putting this solid release together.
DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS
Cabaret singer and dancer Nicole Rochard (Susan Scott) is being stalked by a mysterious masked man who demands to know where some diamonds are, something he accuses her of having information about based on that fact that it was her father who was apart of some heist. Afraid and very paranoid, her mind begins to implicate her casual lover, Michel (Simon Andreu) of being the intended killer after see finds a pair of piercing blue contact lenses, the same color as the masked assailant. Not wasting time, she seeks the help of Englishmen Dr. Robert Mattews (Frank Wolf) who had been admiring her during her show. With the information on a calling card he had left with her, she finds him and offers herself to him. Whisking her off to the British countryside, all her trouble have seemed to be long gone. Within time though, her worst dreams come true as her masked killer has found her and is determined to get those diamonds. That quite British countryside quickly becomes the scene of total havoc.
Like many of the great Italian genre directors of the day, Luciano Ercoli employed many actors often. Like Sergio Martino with Edwinge Fenech, and Lucio Fulci with Catriona MacColl, Erocli had one of the most stunningly beautiful woman out of Spain, Neives Navarro (Susan Scott). Of course he used Spanish actor Simon Andreu quite often as well. Both play major roles in both DEATH gialli from Erocli. Both would also show up in yet another DEATH titled giallo in Maurizio Pradeauxís DEATH CARRIES A CANE (1973). Still, it was here in DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS that Ercoli displays his ability to utilize them both very well. Exploiting Scottís sexy appeal, while laying out Andreuís sleazy presences. Having the two opposites come together to create and atmosphere you know is going to end up some where else. Feeding on both their unique appeals, Erocli expands the mixture with throwing the clean cut oddness of veteran actor Frank Wolf. A tri-ad of instability, sleaze and total chaos in the waiting, the tense is addressed with a serene countryside backdrop. As the calmness of the British sideside eases the viewerís mind, as it does Susan Scottís troubled mind, that is quickly deterred into a wave of total mayhem as a series of unexplainable events drive oneís thinking into complete and utter disbelief. Of course that is not real, as less we forget this is after all a giallo, and a classic one at that.
Though not a full fledged giallo, mixed with typical crime/thriller aspects with a solid storyline and plot. Outside the triple threat sort of speak, Ercoli as brings in other elements to heighten this unique tale. Bringing in the likes of Italian character actor Luciano Rossi, who is known for his often strange roles, those related to the sleazy drug related and criminal under world. There is certainly no exception here in DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS as he plays Dr. Matthews servant of sorts, Hilary. A strange fellow with a steel fake hand and a hankering for crossdressing. His antics certainly add to the mix with a certain underbelly flavor indeed as his often gawking at Nicole in a stalker like manner, would only have you thinking is he the killer, or just another red-herring. Of course speaking of red-herring, you would not be disappointed in the least with those as they play out in classic giallo fashion. This is not complete without the likes of a great score and Ercoliís only employs one of the best in the business, composer Stelvio Cipriani, who once again proves just why he is one of the best. Bringing his total a game with a score that is certainly one of his most complete. Though Iím still a big fan of his score for Massiís MARK IL POLIZIOTTO (1975), this isnít far behind.
No Shame brings a superior offering to the table in terms of the main featureís print. A beautiful 2.35:1 (16x9) widescreen print that looks to be color corrected and very clean. Running at 108 minutes long in length. The audio is also quite good as well, separated in either an original Italian 2.0 digital mono with English subtitles or in an English 2.0 digital mono for those who donít like reading. I would recommend watching this in itís original state of Italian audio. On the extraís front, this particular disc is thin, but no worries there as the main feature is more then enough to suffice. There are two original trailers to watch, the Italian theatrical trailer and an English theatrical trailer. Also thereís a poster and stills gallery in completion. Note: There is also a scene added to this version that was only made for the English international version of the film. The best part about this release, this isnít the end of a good thing, there is still more too come..
DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT
Taking off just where he left off with DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS, director Luciano Ercoli again employs the like of Susan Scott and Simon Andreau. If the formula works in the first one, why not use it again only in a different scenario. Hooking the two of them up again as "casual friends", displaying the stunning beauty of Scott and facing it off with the yet again sleazy attributes Andreau is so good at. Scott plays fashion model Valentina, who agrees to experiment with LSD and do an undercover interview with sleazy news hound Gio. While under the influence of the drug, she witnesses a string of bizarre events leading up to the death of a woman in the building across the street. Bludgeoned to death with a steal claw. Gio takes total advantage of the situation and prints the story in the latest edition of his tabloid, thus exposing her to the killer. Trying in vein the truth of the whole matter, her boyfriend and police ignore the signs until it maybe too late.
I simply love the multi-leveled aspects pulling together to provide yet another solid storyline. Director Luciano Ercoli brings together a whole host of different aspects, throwing them into a mixture that proves to come out just right. While in the process of using his main tool of the exploitation of his main characterís traits, he fuels there fires only more with adding the right elements to drag them through the mud and back. Everything from the use of drugs and hallucinating, to graphic gore for the times and total down righteous tabloid trash. All of which raise the level of entertainment while never losing sight of his overall goal, producing a solid but very awkward giallo. The one element that is completely the driving force of the film is the bluntness Ercoli uses with this display of the killer throughout the film.
Sure, we are given the answer quite quickly, as soon as the fist few scenes, but what we donít know is not only his identity, but the reasons why this killer is driven to such madness. As we see him running through the crowded streets, being chased by Valentina and Gio in hopes to prove that she is not crazy. The one fact that really stand out about the killer is, sure he is mysterious in looks, but he certainly doesnít look like the usual killer. By this I mean, he looks to be a false lead, that isnít the truth as itís established from the onslaught that he is in fact the killer, but he just doesnít fit that typical profile. Hey, thatís a given in many gialli, but here it just seems different. Ercoli is foreshadowing something, sure it isnít as blunt as giving as the face of the killer right away, but telling us that there is something much more sinister waiting in then wings for both the killer and Valentina.
Like his return castings of Susan Scott and Simon Andreau, Ercoli also bring back into the fold some other familiar faces. Such as Carlo Gentili, who like in DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS plays a police inspector who has his many doubts. Also, the return of the ever sleazy Luciano Rossi, who plays a knife wielding, hyaena laughing drug pusher who causes havoc in the latter half of the film. Both actors, even though their roles are but small supports, add much significance to the over feel and atmosphere of the film as a whole.
Like the first feature, No Shame has taken great lengths and pride in restoring this film for itís North American region 0 DVD debut. Presented in a beautiful non-anamorphic widescreen presentation. Adding audio qualities such as itís original Italian track presented in 2.0 digital mono, and in an English audio also in 2.0 digital mono. Optional subtitles are also included. Outside the main feature, No Shame also provides the viewer with there TV version of the film which has an added almost 4 minutes of footage. Also adding a poster and gallery section as well.
THE SOUND OF LOVE AND DEATH (Disc Three (CD)
Just when you thought things couldnít get much better, guess what? They have! Not only does this set have two fine examples of classic gialli, there is now also some great and very classic music to wined down too after the exhilaration of the films. The music of Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani in great hitís form. Ranging music from some of his more memorable score such as MARK IL POLIZIOTTO, LA POLIZIA CHIEDE AIUTO to LA POLIZIA STA A GUADARE. There are a total of tracks restored to fully enjoy.
In closing, there is still the mention of inside this three disc boxset, with itís slip case and three separate trays for each of the discs, there is also a thick book of liner notes written by Chris D. Giving us the inside scope on the two films, as well as bios on Luciano Ercoli, Susan Scott and even Luciano Rossi. Each bio contains a brief filmography as well. There are also some poster art and stills throughout the books as well. Lastly and certainly not least, there are two post cards which display a total of 12 still shots from DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT, though I would probably keep them rather then post them. All in cased in what is known as the Special 3 Disc Collectorís Edition/ The Luciano Ercoli Death Box Set.
This is just one of many examples of just how quickly NO Shame has become the leading force in releasing this Italian genre gems. Filmís that many of us thought years ago would never see or struggled through Greek transfers or other means, now can rest at ease with the total pack on a beautiful shiny format. My hat is off to No Shame, as this is just the beginning of many great things, or I should say not the beginning as they have already brought us many other great releases. This though, their first special edition of this stature. Of course if you enjoy this set upon itís release, then you certainly canít wait for their upcoming very limited KILLER QUEEN boxset with figure. Which Iím sure will raise a few eyebrows just as this set has.
DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS
STORY/FILM-3.5/5 PICTURE-4/5 AUDIO-3.5/5 EXTRAS-3/5 OVERALL DVD-3.5/5
DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT
STORY/FILM-3.5/5 PICTURE-4/5 AUDIO-3.5/5 EXTRAS-4/5 OVERALL DVD-4.5/5
OVERALL DEATH BOXSET
You can purchase this from X-Ploited Cinema
(Release Date of Feb 28th)
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