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this italian thriller, set in some french village, starts quickly with a man being overridden by a train; his three sisters all have some reason to want his death; the plot develops very unexpectedly, with a new turn about every five minutes; although many killings take place, the whole atmosphere is quite joyous due to the good rock-big band score by Torossi; just nice entertainment
Deadly Inheritance is probably most interesting as an example of an
early giallo. It was released a couple of years before the genre was
codified by the release of Dario Argento's debut film The Bird with the
Crystal Plumage. As a result it's a good deal more restrained than the
gialli of the 70's. It's not alone in this, as other late 60's gialli
were pretty much the same. However, it does incorporate the serial
killer on the loose mystery narrative that would go on to become a key
aspect of the genre.
The story is about a family of greedy siblings who want to inherit the money left by their recently killed father. All his money is left to his adopted son Janot, who is mentally retarded. Pretty much immediately, a string of murders begin.
This is an example of the rural giallo. In the main the genre was an urban based genre and the rural ones are few and far between. The setting is in fact the French countryside. The location is decent enough. The cast has no big names but does have a few faces genre enthusiasts will recognise, such as Femi Benussi who starred in several Italian horror and thriller films such as Hatchet for the Honeymoon. Also of note is Ernesto Colli who plays Janot, he is an agreeably odd looking guy and also starred in the later giallo Torso. The best feature of the movie has to be the soundtrack though. The music is composed by Stefano Torossi. It's varied and of a good standard throughout. The film itself is solid enough although it's overall a little plodding. The murders are committed more or less off-screen and the suspense is a little limited. Interesting enough as a 60's giallo though.
Fun mystery, strange to say, that comes across as light entertainment
despite the story. It's hard to say why. Maybe it's the 60s influence.
Maybe it's the color. Maybe it's the music. Maybe it can't be taken
seriously. Maybe it's the dubbing. Maybe it's the acting. Maybe the
director intentionally has added touches of parody. But it comes out
There are a number of inheritors to a fortune who are getting killed by a mysterious somebody whom we do not see. Each death is novel, but not terribly graphic. Who did it? The plot is rather cut up and jumpy, but we can follow it, and, in the end, we are surprised by some twists.
I'm intrigued by the overall effect which is quite often on the comic side despite the murders. It's that the slight exaggeration of each scene and the reactions to them cannot really be taken too seriously. Unlike a serious Italian drama or neorealist piece, this has a variety of deadpan, oddball, overemotional roles, people bedding each other, and a musical score that underscores this, but at times being very creative, so that the result is not to tear at one's emotions or even frighten one at all.
The locations are used to good advantage as the movie proceeds. The mystery also had me stumped, although I was beginning to hone in on it.
It's a giallo, a thriller, but not much horror or nudity. It has the use of color. The murder scenes are not elongated that much. It's light rather than heavy. To me it has a certain European "ricky-tick" or slapdash appeal, and also it has abrupt film editing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When an eccentric millionaire is killed in a train accident--that's what you get for standing on the rail tracks, bub--his family contests his will, which leaves his estate intact for three years and then leaves it to the idiot (Ernesto Colli, who looks a bit like Royal Dano) adopted into the family. (When I say idiot, I mean it in the old-fashioned way.) Greedy daughter Simone (Femi Benussi) and the rest of the family are determined to get their hands on the money, and will stop at nothing--including murder--to get it. This Italian thriller is relatively intriguing, well-paced, and features a wonderful go-go score by Stefano Torossi. I'd love to know who the band is that mime Torossi's music, because the bass player was clearly enjoying himself!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
And when I say "mediocre", I mean exactly that: "Deadly Inheritance" is neither very bad nor very good, it's just....fair. Made before the heyday of the "giallo" genre, this has some of its typical features but is much tamer in terms of violence and nudity. The major weakness of the film is that it lags in the middle, with far too much footage of the police hunting down a fugitive, whom we know is probably innocent anyway. But there are some nice twists in the last 20 minutes, and overall the story does make sense. Also making "Deadly Inheritance" worth a look is the presence of the beautiful and stylish Femi Benussi, who even graces us with a shower scene! ** out of 4.
Deadly Inheritance is a Giallo based on the classic idea of people
being killed for money. The film is one of the largely forgotten
Giallo's, and while I personally wouldn't say that it's one in urgent
need of rediscovery; it's a well plotted and effective Giallo that
features a good story, some interesting characters, nice gore and a few
twists and turns along the way. The film takes place in the countryside
and while the urban Giallo's tend to be the more interesting ones; the
location used here actually works quite well in that it puts the
central family somewhat in isolation. The film begins with the death of
an old man. It is later revealed that he was the owner of a small
fortune, and that fortune has been left to the family; however, nobody
gets any money until the dimwit son turns 21. Naturally, the rest of
the family are not exactly pleased about this development and it's not
long before certain members are scheming and the dimwit son turns up
dead. The police begin to investigate, and the bodies soon start to
The film is very short running at only eighty minutes and director Vittorio Sindoni makes good use of his time and ensures that there's always something going on, which is a definite benefit to the film as it doesn't really have time to get boring. My biggest criticism of the film is that it doesn't manage to be as distinctive as many of the best of the genre; although the Giallo was only really just warming up in 1968 so I'm prepared to cut it some slack on that front. The film does not feature any big stars of the genre, but ensemble cast performs well and everyone is just about believable despite the fact that they're clearly not the most talented group of actors ever to grave the silver screen. There are plenty of red herrings and the film always has enough to keep you guessing, and this kept up right until the end when we are served up a brilliant and totally unexpected conclusion to the mystery. The final twenty minutes or so are by far and away the best of the film. Overall, while I wouldn't say that this is a great Giallo; it is at least a good one and is recommended to Giallo fans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Deaf widower Oscar Marot (Arnaldo De Angelis) is run over by a train, leaving behind three pretty daughters; loner Simone (Femi Benussi), married Rosalie ("Jeanette Len"/Giovanna Lenzi) and naive Colette (Valeria Ciangottini), as well as an adopted invalid/semi-retarded son Janot (Ernesto Colli), who he seemed even more fond of than his own girls. Afterward, a will reader shows up and reveals that even though Oscar worked at a train station, he was something of a closet financial wiz who invested wisely enough to save back a million franks. However, a stipulation in his will is that the family has to wait three long years until Janot reaches his 21st birthday to collect their inheritance. Guess what happens next? You got it... people start mysteriously dying. First up is Janot, who gets splattered into about a dozen pieces after someone pushes him front of a moving train. Many others will follow. There are a lot of characters and they all pretty much have a motive to murder. Simone's married lover Jules Didier (Isarco Ravaioli) owns a popular dance club, but doesn't make enough to pay off his wife Natalie (Alessandra Moravia), who is demanding he give her 50,000 franks or else she won't give him a divorce. Rosalie's pushy, much-hated metal worker husband Leon (Ivo Garrani) is drowning in debt and urgently needs to pay off some debtors or else he'll lose everything. Throw in investigating police Commissioner Etienne (Virgilio Gazzolo) and Chief Inspector Gerard (Tom Drake) and you have a standard, though sturdy enough, foundation for an enjoyable giallo. Though much less stylish than the films brought to us from the likes of Argento, Bava or Martino, I have to give this one some extra credit for a decent screenplay, which will adequately throw most viewers off track with lots of twists and turns, especially toward the end. I also give it credit for sensibly bringing it all together by the finale. Overall it's probably one of the better-plotted films in this genre. Various interior and exterior locations are fairly well used here with several nice pan shots of a picturesque old city and some brief scenes taking place in a crumbling old building, around a lake with tall weeds and a field of dead corn stalks. Since this is one of the first of its kind, don't expect a whole lot of gore or nudity. Most of the murders are committed off-screen (including one committed with a golf club) so there's just a little bit of blood and Benussi has only brief partial nude scene taking a shower. The acting and direction are fairly good, as are the score by Stefano Torossi and cinematography by Ascenzio Rossi.
I'm calling out to all of you, good people working at DVD-distributing companies like NoShame Films, Subversive Cinema or even Anchor Bay Entertainment! During the past couple of years, and especially with the revival of low-budget seventies exploitation cinema, a lot of stupendous Italian Gialli thrillers already received fancy DVD-releases. Even several lesser great and downright mediocre Gialli already got transferred to disc, but still there are numerous hidden treasures that remain stuck in video-oblivion to this date. "Deadly Inheritance" is an ideal example of this. Perhaps there aren't any famous names listed in the cast and crew, but nevertheless this is a wondrously convoluted and marvelously flamboyant showcase of Italian Giallo greatness with mouth-watering gore, sensational sleaze and phenomenal music. The plot may be derivative and the constant red herrings may be too grotesque for their own good, but I guarantee this is the stuff all you Giallo-fanatics are searching for. Straight from the first couple of minutes you'll already know you're in for a nice treat, as the opening involves a fast ride on rails filmed from the trains' POV and guided by THE most exciting music I ever heard. The ride abruptly ends when an elderly man messily ends up underneath the train and the titular (Deadly) inheritance refers to the arrangement of his testament between the family members. The deceased had three beautiful daughters and one mentally handicapped adopted son, but the will irreversibly states that nobody receives one penny before the boy reaches the age of 21. Naturally, none of the women (nor their husbands/lovers) intend to wait two more years or even consider sharing the family wealth and it doesn't take too long before the kid ends up underneath a train as well. It looked like suicide, but Inspector Greville suspects murder and quickly gets confirmed when more relatives turn up dead in less camouflaged circumstances. The rest of the plot unfolds itself as an engaging and unpredictable (because of its absurdity) Giallo with many inventive death sequences and perverted underlying sub plots. "Deadly Inheritance" is a must-see for genre lovers, so I sincerely hope it'll be widely available on short notice and, if it's not too much to ask, the wildly exciting soundtrack ought to be released separately as well. There's a more than fair amount of suspense and mystery, the killings are deliciously gross and the three leading ladies are luscious eye-candy. Femi Benussi is probably the most famous name in the cast, since she starred and showcased her ravishing body in "The Bloody Pit of Horror", "Bloodsucker Leads the Dance" and Mario Bava's "Hatchet for the Honeymoon". The rest of the cast, as well as director Vittorio Sindoni, is fairly unknown, but they all do good jobs and contribute in making "Deadly Inheritance" what is in my book the most undeservedly and shamefully overlooked Giallo ever.
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