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A visitor arrives in a small Italian village looking for a woman. Residents tell him that she committed suicide but there's more to the mystery than they're letting on. Meanwhile, a strange woman walks by the lake.
This is one of those gialli I probably wouldn't recommend to those unfamiliar with the Italian genre, but committed giallo fans will certainly enjoy it. A young girl witnesses her father shotgun her mother ( Evelyn Stewart) and male lover to death before turning the gun on himself. The little girl naturally grows into a pretty maladjusted adult (also played by Stewart) who is kept drugged and isolated in a remote castle by her over-protective husband (Luigi Pistilli) and his brutish butler. Still she manages to invite a group of her decadent bourgeois "friends" to the castle for a kind of weird masked orgy. It's a bad sign though when the hostess herself comes dressed in the white gown in which her mother was killed (which you would would think would be covered in blood and riddled with buckshot, but oh well). Naturally, it isn't long before the guests are dropping off like flies.
It takes a little time for the murders to get going, but they come fast and thick when they do. And the early going is spent with lots of surreal Gothic touches. A great eerie setting and superb visual style and music make this film similar to other heavy-duty bizarro gialli like "Sex of the Witch" and "Crazy Desires of a Murderer", even if--like with those--the plot rarely makes a lick of sense. There are only really two possible perpetrators of the killings, but even by the end of the movie I wasn't sure which of them was responsible. The victims are certainly worthy though. There is a bickering young, interracial couple--the guy derides the girl as a "slave" while she belittles him by calling him "white master" (yet another sensitive, politically correct portrayal of black people in Italian genre films). Spanish actress Pilar Velasquez plays a character after my own heart--a raving nympho who responds to nearly getting raped by a male guest by going to the black woman's room and (for no apparent reason beyond the obvious) stripping off for some hot, interracial lesbian action! I was quite impressed with Velasquez--not just her body (which can also be seen in "Naked Girl killed in Park"), but also her acting--it can't be easy to play such a preposterously motivated character. The real acting honors, however, go to the two great character actors, Luigi Pistilli and Ivan Rassimov. It's a sublime joy to watch these two devour scenery together.
Director Roman Scavoli was later responsible for the film "Nightmare in a Damaged Brain", one of those films that was banned in Britain, but completely ignored in America. I haven't seen that one yet, but it's probably safe to say this is better. Newcomers to the giallo genre will probably be left scratching their heads, but long-time fans will definitely enjoy this.
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