This particular movie probably best illustrates Argento’s knack for casting the finest examples of Eurotrash this side of Abba. Take for instance, the mysterious woman in the airport. I don’t think I am giving much away here when we tell you that she is in the movie solely as body count. However, her death is certainly the most memorable, as you will soon see. Until then, marvel at this picture of 1980s Italian sexiness:
We soon find out that Peter Neal is the most popular writer in the world. In fact, his books are so popular that retail cosmetic store stock copies of his novels next to the perfume displays. His books are so in demand that prostitutes choose to shoplift them over much more valuable items, like… well, anything else for sale at a store.
Unfortunately for the thieving hooker that we meet -- in what is perhaps the most extreme example of “crime doesn’t pay” -- after being nabbed for swiping the paperback, she gets pages of the book shoved in her face and her throat slit. Wow. They sure are tough in Rome.
Shortly after this poor girl’s death, we are introduced to a cast of characters that include John Saxon as Peter's unfortunately-named agent Bullmer, Daria Nicolodi as the author’s secretary, and Billy’s Eurotrash obsession, John Steiner as book reviewer Christiano Berti:
Well, to be fair, the above picture is from a different movie. John Steiner actually looks like this in Tenebre:
While arriving at Peter Neil’s hotel with the author’s completely ridiculous entourage, the group is greeted by the Italian prototype for The X-Files. We did not bother to try to remember the characters’ real names, but prefer to just call them Scullyari and Mulderoni. These clowns inform Peter that someone obsessed with his novel is killing people...news which they all toast to with a glass of scotch.
Dressed completely in white and wearing slightly less makeup that a mime, Daria Nicolodi’s presence in this movie is an absolute mystery. Why Peter Neil has a traveling secretary and what this woman does is beyond us at Tower Farm. However, if anyone reading this is on travel through Europe and needs a secretary, please forward us an application. Of note, Theresa Russell (who played Denise Richards's mom in Tower Farm fave Wild Things) supplied the voice for Daria in this movie. Though I have read that Daria Nicolodi is perturbed at having her real voice removed from the English version of the film, we enjoy the fact that the sloppy dubbing actually makes this character appear slightly drunk throughout the entire flick. Well done!
Also of note is the fact that John Saxon looks the same today as he does in this movie. Does this guy age?
After the most boring single tracking shot in movie history (we fly over an entire house for what seems like ten minutes), we are given our next two victims, a pair of trashy topless lesbians. Though these totally drunk babes surely should have been easy targets, our killer chooses pretty complicated ways to dispatch of them. For example, he cuts through a shirt as one is putting her top on. Weird.
As with all Italian movies, the next twenty minutes are pretty boring. The author talks, John Saxon walks, and Daria Nicolodi… well, she just seems to be piling on more and more face makeup.
I mean, seriously. Just look. Daria's neck is a shade darker than her pancaked face!
Anyway a couple of people die… more talking…
Finally, we get back to our Eurotrash wonder from the airport at the beginning of the movie. It turns out that she is the estranged fiancee of Peter Neal. She has been following him around in a jealous rage all over Italy. Well, her stalker behavior is put to a quick and spectacular end with a drop of an axe.
Thankfully, Argento makes up for about 45 minutes of talking with a final ten minutes of blood spewing and non-stop screaming. In fact, poor Theresa Russell was forced to scream so much that this may explain why she sounds so much like Kathleen Turner today.
While many people will defend this movie until they are blue in the face, we cannot give it a 5 finger rating, because it’s “sequel”, Trauma, is so much better. Had Piper Laurie been in this one, perhaps we would have liked it better.
3 and a half fingers!