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Killer Without a Face (1968)

Assassino senza volto (original title)

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(as Ray Morrison)

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Cast

Cast overview:
Mara Berni
Gianni Medici
Giuliano Raffaelli
...
(as Lawrence Thierney)
Luigi Batzella
Anita Todesco
Genevieve Soné
Gabriella Mantovani
Rita Klein
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Plot Keywords:

castle | giallo | See All (2) »

Genres:

Horror | Mystery

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Release Date:

20 July 1968 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Killer Without a Face  »

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An early giallo "hybrid"
9 September 2015 | by (NYC suburbs) – See all my reviews

Before Dario Argento's BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE changed the face of gialli in 1970, most from the late '60s (especially those of Umberto Lenzi & Carroll Baker) were psychological, "bloodless" erotic thrillers that relied on murder, sex, and DIABOLIQUE-like plot twists but 1968's KILLER WITHOUT A FACE was an exception in that it blended mid-60s "Barbara Steele/haunted castle" horror with the kind of proto-giallo crime thrillers ex-pat actor John Drew Barrymore used to make in the early '60s.

After her beloved cousin falls (?) from the tower of "Nottingham Castle" one stormy night in the pre-credit opening, Barbara, the mentally unstable mistress of the manor, hires a handsome architect to re-do the castle top-to-bottom but her husband warns him that she has psychotic fits every now and then as various castle inhabitants (a barrister, a Mrs. Danvers-like housekeeper, maids, and other sundry folk) start getting picked off one by one with a gun that has an extraordinarily long silencer. As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a curse on the castle ever since an ancestor was burned at the stake centuries before. Is Barbara responsible -or is something more insidious -maybe even supernatural- going on?

Filmed in atmospheric black & white with a jazzy score, the film can also boast Jess Franco favorite Janine Reynaud as a slinky femme fatale and Lawrence Tierney as a mute Igor-type servant. I love Larry in American Film Noir but, reely, what's he doing in this -wasn't he supposedly reduced to driving a hansom cab around Manhattan at the time?

The Italian giallo's usual xenophobia's on display here as well- the depraved goings-on occur outside Italy (England this time) and the heroine actually recuperates from a breakdown in sunny Italy to restore her health. When she goes back to England, supposedly recovered, depravity sets in again and the murders resume.


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