Late Italian giallo with strong reality based imagery and content
Camillo Teti's L'Assassino é ancora tra noi aka The Killer is Still Among Us (Italy, 1985) is a giallo murder mystery that is based (unfortunately) on true story about the killer in Florence. As far as I know the killer is still free and not caught which makes the gruesome film even more unsettling although the film is far from the really atmospheric and thus effective films of the genre. I didn't see the subtitled version, I only saw the Italian language print so unfrotunately the plentiful and long scenes of dialogue went beyond me.
A criminal stundet female starts to investigate a brutal series of murders commited by unknown person who kills young couples making love and kissing in their cars on the outskirts of the city. He/she shoots his/her victims with a pistol and the mutilates the (mostly female) bodies in such horrific detail it is not possible (nor necessary) to go into details here. Soon the murderer becomes interested in the protagonist lady, too, and she starts to suspect even her own boyfriend at one paranoid point as there really are no clues about who the real killer would be. The film opens with a murder, has some truly great scenes at the middle part and beginning, has a lot of talking and going from places to others and ends in a sadistically explicit aftermath mutilation and a little epilogue surprise.
The mentioned effective scenes really stand out and frightened me even though I watched the film daytime (still in darkness) and from television. First incredibly imaginative and devilish detail comes at the very beginning when the killer's point-of-view shot shows a dead female lying on the ground while the killer hand's SHADOW covers her dead body and kind of "flies" and flutters all over it, making it look like a bat straight from Hell trying to seduce the soul of the girl. This is exactly what effective horror imagery is about, and it is wonderful to find such elements in otherwise pretty exploitive films like this.
The second stand out scene is even more effective and comes at the middle part when the protagonist is alone in her apartment and hears something from the hallway. She goes to the door and sees something that makes Argento proud for sure. The "eye thing" is among the most nerve shreddingly shocking horror scenes I've seen for some time and again shows the power of such extreme close ups. If these two scenes were accompanied with a great music score and soundtrack a'la Goblins (for example), they would be just perfect. Now they are extremely effective and (almost) on the same level with the greatest examples of the genre like the masterpieces by Argento, Fulci and other legendary names.
The acting is quite good and restrained and the lady who plays the protagonist is not annoying at all in her difficult role as she is frightened and shocked most of the time. Roles like these require a lot from the actor as they involve plenty of eye and face movements and reactions which can really be horrible to look at if the actor is not talented and cannot use his/her face in the acting restrainedly and naturally. Sadly the soundtrack manages to impress only rarely and it is definitely among the film's biggest needs especially when we're in giallo and horror genre.
The murders are graphic and merciless but even more repellent are the things the murderer does to his victims after their death. The notorious scene among those few who've managed to track this rare film down comes at the very end when the film makers show in graphic close ups and detail how the killer slices the most private parts of the female he has just shot dead. The scenes are very strong and effects convincing and at the same level with the sickest bits in the various cannibal flicks like Lenzi's Eaten Alive! (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1981), Fulci's New York Ripper (1982), Landi's Giallo a Venezia (1979) and some of the Orient nasties like Otto Chan's Diary of a Serial Killer (Hong Kong, 1995) and Danny Lee's & Billy Tang's creepy and great looking Dr. Lamb (Hong Kong, 1992, being far stronger in its uncut form i.e. not the HK CAT III form) plus some other films including sexual violence and unspeakable acts commited to living or dead bodies. The imagery is so excessive that the film becomes obviously a pretty exploitative one which naturally tones its serious potential down and makes it difficult to take as a noteworthy piece of work on any other level than exploitation.
The ending is pretty unusual and has a certain irony this kind of a subject matter wouldn't necessarily need. But it can also be seen as a straight statement and depiction of the murders/producers/public circle usually involving plenty of greedy thoughts and interest on other people's suffering and wickedness in our world and so it distantly reminds me of the theme's in Deodato's classic Cannibal Holocaust (1979) but VERY distantly as Deodato's film is so thoroughly loyal to its themes and despite the film being very violent it never becomes exploitive and gratuitous but naturally this statement requires a certain understanding towards films with extremely hard-to-take imagery like in Holocaust. But that is usually what powerful cinema is about.
If I had seen the subtitled version of Teti's film, I would know more about the relations and thoughts of the characters and maybe they'd shed some light on the film and its obvious exploitive status and make it perhaps a little more noteworthy. I will definitely check the subtitled version one day if I manage to meet it. Now L'Assassino gets 3/10 and is still freshly in my mind due to the two stand out giallo scenes mentioned and of course due to the over-the-top imagery rarely (if ever) surpassed in other films from anywhere.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?