Even with all the renewed interest in Italian gialli these days, it's a little unfortunate that this one will probably never be re-released on DVD because it is one of the few gialli filmed in black and white. And that's too bad because it is really an excellent little film. A young boy sees his father murder his mistress during a bondage session in a mirror-filled room. The father apparently commits suicide by jumping off a cliff (although his body was never found)and the boy eventually ends up in a mental hospital. Years later as a young man he returns to his childhood home with his wife, his lawyer, and his lawyer's sexy girlfriend. A number of strange things begin to happen and the man begins to suspect that his father is still alive.
For much of the movie it is tantalizingly unclear whether the man is still insane (a la "Repulsion"), the other characters are trying to drive him insane to get their hands on his father's inheritance (a la "Gaslight"), or the father really is still alive. The story is excellent and unusually logical for a giallo, and the end includes some delicious twists. Not surprisingly, the director Ernesto Gastaldi would go on to become one of the most famous screenwriters of these kind of films. Of course, he doesn't quite have the visual panache of more famous gialli directors (i.e. Bava, Argento, Fulci, Martino), but some scenes, particularly the ones in the room of mirrors, are pretty memorable.
Gianni Giancarlo is the name actor, but he was pretty young here and seems to play his role a little too seriously. The best thing about this movie though is Maria Chiavetti (Gastaldi's wife)who plays the lawyer's girlfriend. Not only does she give the movie all its sex appeal by dancing in lingerie or strutting around in a kitty-cat bikini, but she provides a lot of Marilyn Monroe-style humor. And while her blonde airhead status would seem to mark her as an early victim, she plays a big part in the surprise twists near the end, proving more charismatic and versatile than the soon-to-be-famous, but here pretty one-note, Giancarlo. And she also apparently was the one that came up with the original idea for the story. This is impressive film, and the version I saw (in Italian with English subtitles) looked great.
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