WHO SAW HER DIE? (1972)
Aldo Lado’s giallo is striking in its similarity to horror classic DON’T LOOK NOW (1973). The thing is it was made a year before.
The film is unforgiving in its treatment of Venice – it seems a hotbed of perverts, murderers and rapists with a culture gloriosuly rotten to the core. There’s a lot going on with the themes of the film and the plot is complicated if convoluted. But perhaps unusually for a Giallo the script actually does make sense. There are many red-herrings and the murder mystery aspect of the picture is gleefully handled to keep the audience guessing.
It’s a brave picture with a uncomfortably brutal child murder at the opening and then the relentless stalking of a little girl by a woman with a black veil. The biggest thing going for this film is the atmosphere which is intoxicatingly thick and jealously creepy. Lado’s direction provides us with some great sequences and camerawork. The scene with the body discovery is an exercise in style and owes something to Hitchcock’s brazen FRENZY(1972). Other cinematic highlights include the slow chase through the tourist-packed streets of Venice shot from high above the city and the scene which mirrors the iconic “dressing-after- sex” montage in DONT LOOK NOW (1973).
For sure, there are problems. Morricone’s companion music to the killer’s presence is overdone and gets annoyingly repetitive. Thats not to belittle the score attached to Lado’s film. The title music is a haunting nursery rhyme which chills to the bone. Common to films of the era, I’d be lying if I said some of the editing wasn’t suspect, particularly in the version available through the “Shameless” label (I’m sure a minor plot development is missing as it’s in the trailer available as an an extra but removed from the feature version on the DVD).
What the film really depicts is a criticism of established Society and like Fulci’s DONT TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972) the killer turns out to be a priest. More than a few fans have drawn a parallel between Fulci’s film and Lado’s effort but there are vital differences. Lado’s movie departs in subtext from Fulci’s greatest thriller, here it is not the repugnant Church (Lado’s killer is only masquerading as a man of the cloth) thrust under the spotlight but the envied upper echelons of Italian society (lawyers, politicians, art dealers etc.). In Fulci’s film, the Church is the literal killer of children whereas in this film we have the rich-and-famous involved in a elaborate cover-up to silence those who are privy to their immoral excesses.
A vibrant and artistic giallo which gets better with each viewing. Whilst not as polished, this is up there with Fulci’s Duckling and Argento’s Deep Red as one of my personal favourites in the genre.
hotdog rating: 9/10