In a Canadian village are women being killed by a psychopath. Chief Rich and Inspector McLane have no clue until McLane shoots a suspicious man. Now the killing seems to have ended, but the... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Supt. Bob McLaine
...
Maria
...
Chief Supt. Jonathan Rich
Sam Cook ...
Supt. Ray Cooper
Terrence Hardiman ...
Dr. Paul Crossland
Heinz Hopf ...
The hairdresser
Christine McKenna
Cyd Hayman
...
Martin Engels, violent man at the hairdresser's
Petrina Derrington
Christopher Guinnes
...
Johannes Krantz (as Frank Brannan)
Bill Redvers ...
Police officer
Hjördis Petterson ...
Ida Swanson, movie theater cashier (as Hjordis Petterson)
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Storyline

In a Canadian village are women being killed by a psychopath. Chief Rich and Inspector McLane have no clue until McLane shoots a suspicious man. Now the killing seems to have ended, but the killer picks yet another victim... Written by Volker Boehm

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Who is innocent... Who is guilty... Who is safe... Who is next...


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1 December 1988 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

The Investigator  »

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1.85 : 1
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The film is shot in Uppsala, Sweden. The birth place of Ingmar Bergman and the set of Fanny and Alexander. See more »

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MASK OF MURDER (Arne Mattsson, 1985) **
19 July 2015 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Certainly among Swedish director Mattsson's best-known work is the "Giallo" precursor MANNEQUIN IN RED (1958); with this in mind, the film under review can be seen as his contribution to the then-prevalent (albeit much-maligned) "Slasher" subgenre. While he should be commended for not following much of the established trappings (if anything, the teenagers who usually make up the victims' list barely feature here) and for managing to attract a serviceable cast (Rod Taylor, Valerie Perrine and Christopher Lee, who – as with the recently-viewed ALBINO {1976} – plays the ineffectual Police Chief), the results are still far from memorable and even downright inept at times.

The main problem with the script is that it tries too hard to lend psychological depth to the narrative when its outcome is fairly obvious and predictable from the start. Cop Taylor discovers wife Perrine is having an affair with his closest colleague at the same time as he is investigating a spate of throat-slashings. But since the murders, following the same modus operandi, resume soon after Taylor's execution of the serial killer and Taylor himself had been the last to handle the latter's 'kit' (razor and featureless mask – at one point, the latter is amusingly stated that it makes the wearer look like Yul Brynner; if anything, it actually reminded me of the assailant of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN {1976}!), there is little doubt as to the identity of the second murderer, given the lawman's state of mind!

This effectively dilutes the proceedings of both tension and interest, especially since our anti-hero goes on about his Police business regardless, i.e. probing locations and witnesses for possible clues to the killings he is himself clearly responsible for, and even adding further red herrings in the unconnected razor assault on a drug-dealing barber committed by a gangland collector! Alas, all the satirical socio- political points brilliantly made by Elio Petri via an exact same scenario in the Oscar-winning INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION (1970) are completely bypassed here in favour of the lowest common denominator (read gratuitous softcore nudity). That said, we are still spoon-fed the protagonist's having the cloud of suspicion over himself: he happens to have a similar razor as the murder weapon and one of the people he questions actually says that the current perpetrator has a similar build as his…and, all the while, the bed-ridden Lee (having been shot by the first slasher before being machine-gunned by an already- unbalanced Taylor) contemplates whether the dead man's spirit could have found a new 'vessel' in order to continue his apparently motiveless killing spree (but which Taylor perversely suggests might be brought on by sexual inadequacy)!

The snowy backdrop (supposedly Canada but really Uppsala, Sweden – that is to say, Ingmar Bergman's birthplace!) is undeniably attractive and unusual for this type of fare; however, this is continuously undercut by the kitschy 1980s fashions and settings (including obligatory and awfully-scored disco-bar and strip-joint sequences) and some hilariously overstated moments (notably Taylor and Lee's reactions at, respectively, his wife's infidelity – captured from a distance via binoculars – and his friend's guilt – by the symbolic throat-slashing of "Playboy" centrefolds conveniently stashed in a drawer of his work-desk!).

The finale, then, emits a false air of cynicism by not only having Taylor frame his duplicitous pal for the murders (he foolishly re-enacts the slaying of a woman witnessed by her young son who, of course, exclaims "That's him!" upon seeing the masked assailant) but by the fact that he is allowed to get away with it (though assured by his superior that he is on to him)! For the record, Lee would re-unite with Mattsson on the director's subsequent effort, i.e. THE GIRL (1986), which also happens to be my next entry in the ongoing tribute I am paying to the recently-deceased Horror icon (incidentally, Rod Taylor also passed away earlier this year – so I got to watch MASK OF MURDER for his sake as well)…


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