In Italy, a series of murders occur at a newly discovered Etruscan burial ground and when a tomb is opened, wall murals of sacrificial killings depict the current deaths ...but how could that possibly be? An American on the site, Professor Jason Porter (Alex Cord) -a violent alcoholic who also suffers blackouts- finds himself not only in the midst of a mystery, but a suspect as well. Was an ancient demon god unleashed when the burial grounds were disturbed -or are the murders the work of a mere (maniacal) mortal?
Armando Crispino's clever and classy entry from the Golden Age of the Giallo (1968-75) has nearly all the conventions one expects from the genre: an innocent (?) American abroad somehow connected to a string of violent crimes, ineffectual police detectives, quirky suspects, nubile victims, red herrings, brutal bludgeonings, suicides, and an insane killer that may come as a surprise. There's also a shoe fetish, a homosexual, a bottle of J&B Whiskey, a wild car chase, and Riz Ortolani's score to hold viewer interest. One of my favorite gialli plot devices is used here to good effect: the protagonist had a clue to the killer's identity all along if only he had interpreted a certain event correctly. All that's missing are the ever-present black gloves -but you won't miss them. This colorful, well-made thriller, based on a short story by Bryan Edgar Wallace, was released in the U.S. as THE DEAD ARE ALIVE. Rounding out the cast are Samantha Eggar, John "Death Dream" Marley, and guest-star Nadja Tiller.
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