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Alberto de Mendoza
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Pier Paolo Capponi,
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"Devil in the Brain" is a bona fide Giallo (Italian murder-mystery) but not the type where an eerily masked and black-gloved killer cuts up scarcely dressed young girls every couple of minutes. The lack of excessive bloodshed and nudity is undoubtedly one of the main reasons why this movie is still so obscure and virtually untraceable on DVD/VHS. That's quite a damn shame because all the other typical trademarks of the Giallo are well presented and even impressively elaborated. The film has a compelling and suspense-laden plot (complete with little flaws and everything), unexpected twists, red herrings, a genuine shock ending, a continuously ominous atmosphere, stylish photography and a mesmerizing musical score from the master Ennio Morricone himself. The story revolves on a handsome man stumbling into the former love of his life, but she doesn't seem to recognize him. The girl, Sandra, suffers from a bad case of amnesia and her overly vain mother protects her from the outside world. Oscar doesn't give up and, with the help of a befriended doctor; he learns that Sandra's condition got caused by the traumatic witnessing of her young son standing next to his father's dead body with a pistol in his hands. Ever since then little Ricky is considered to be an emotionless youthful killer, but the death of Fabrizio Garces is a lot more mysterious and complicated than it seems. "Devil in the Brain" is a terrifically atmospheric thriller and Sergio Sollima succeeds in making common and clichéd themes like betrayal, adultery and murder conspiracy feel refreshingly original. The script is also intelligent and always several steps ahead of you. You might figure out some of the story's twists and revelations before they occur, but the most vital ones (like the final denouement) remain nearly impossible to predict. With a constantly tense and compelling plot like this, the absence of bloody murder sequences isn't even an issue. I already knew Sergio Sollima was one of Italy's most gifted directors based on his fantastic westerns "The Big Gundown" and "Run Man Run" and his crime-thrillers "Violent City" and "Revolver", but still this one is different. All the aforementioned movies thrive on action and/or graphic violence whereas "Devil in the Brain" is a very slow and sober film. Unfortunately the bootleg version I watched was of terrible quality and the sound regularly just disappeared. The soundtrack appears to be easily available but a properly remastered DVD edition would be far better.
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