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A model is murdered at a famous fashion house and the Hillmans start to investigate. Kajsa Hillman is employed as a model and discovers that several people had motives to kill the model who was a blackmailer. The murderer continues to kill people to cover up the tracks. Written by
I first became aware of this Swedish thriller via Tim Lucas' Audio Commentary for Mario Bava's "Giallo" landmark (and, arguably, masterpiece) BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964); the latter was said to be somewhat reminiscent of it and, having now watched the earlier effort for myself, I can see where such an argument is coming from as there are undeniable thematic and stylistic (more on these later) and even aural (meaning, the score) parallels yet how deliberate imitations they were I cannot tell! Still, considering just how many films directly ripped off the Bava classic without taking the edge off the prototype, I might add one can make concessions for its having drawn a certain inspiration from somewhere, too!
For the record, here we have a fashion-house setting (with the colour scheme right from the opening credits sequence being similarly given its due), blackmail (though the main reason behind the killing spree is actually the usual one of inheritance thus also numbering males among the victims in this case!) and, while no specific aura is created around the figure of the assassin, the perpetrator does manage a few sensational slayings (in fact, twice are dead models discovered as having replaced a dummy one is stabbed and arranged in a window display, and another is memorably hung way up in the air on a symbolic gallows). Incidentally, it seems that if Bava had indeed watched this, he would derive elements from it for at least two other movies of his: the presence of a dagger (or a set of them here) is also central to the Italian Maestro's THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963), whereas that of the wheelchair-bound elderly owner of the establishment to say nothing of the whole string of murders spun by the coveting of her legacy looks forward to A BAY OF BLOOD (1971)!
Otherwise, the protagonists are an icy blonde undercover model, her debonair investigator husband, his obligatory comic relief sidekick (he not only stutters but is, annoyingly, an automobile nut into the bargain!); the suspects, then, are likewise stock characters: ambitious shop manager, ne'er-do-well 'son', philandering/extravagant relatives, etc. However, there is also a middle-aged lady who repeatedly turns up and somehow comes into possession of the old woman's white cat following her demise but, for the life of me, I could not fathom what her exact function within the narrative was supposed to be! The film, then, is quite handsome-looking and reasonably enjoyable, if a bit long at 106 minutes (when BLOOD AND BLACK LACE clocked in at a mere 85, which I would say is just about right for this sort of fare!) while the twist ending was predictable enough (albeit, still effectively rendered). By the way, this was the second of 5 'vehicles' for the central sleuthing couple (and their klutzy assistants!) director Mattsson would helm; I do not own any of the others, but did manage to acquire copies of his ONE SUMMER OF HAPPINESS (1951) and THE DOLL (1962) over the years, though both remain unwatched up to now.
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