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Greg Moore, an American journalist visiting Prague with his girlfriend Mira is found dead. However, he's actually only temporarily paralyzed, but the coroner fails to realize this and proceeds to prepare him for the autopsy. While Moore awaits his doom, he tries to recollect what has happened to him. It all starts when his girl disappears. He asks his friend, a local journalist, for help. They discover that this was just the latest in a series of disappearances of young pretty girls in the area. Their investigation leads them to a strange high profile private club, whose affluent members practice odd ritualistic orgies and bizarre dark rites.
[we hear his unspoken thoughts while he is waiting to be taken to the morgue]
Dead? I'm dead? Can't be. I'm alive. Can't you tell I'm alive? I've got to make them see. You! Listen to me! Look at me! Can't you hear me? Maybe it's a nightmare. I'll try to wake up. I've got to move. Yeah, a finger. Ca' Can't! I must! Don't leave me like this. Help me! HELP ME!
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The reporter Gregory Moore (Jean Sorel) is found dead somewhere in Cold War Prague and brought to the morgue, but he is not really dead his mind works, but he cannot move. Now he tries to figure out how he ended up in the morgue. Most of the movie is told through Moore's flashbacks from the morgue where an old friend of his is trying to revive him because he suspects something is wrong with the body since rigor mortis have not set in.
The next hour of the movie is very slow moving through the flashbacks we learn that Moore had a girlfriend, Mira (played by the gorgeous Barbara Bach), who he loved very dearly. At a party she disappears without a trace and Moore starts his own investigation when the Prague police (almost dressed like the Gestapo) is of little help. His investigation leads him from place to place and he discovers that Mira is not the only missing girl in Prague. As he gets closer to the truth about the missing girls someone tries to stop him and the people who are willing to help him. It looks like a giant conspiracy And the twist ending is magnificent and gruesome at the same time!
The truth is that a satanic cult is behind it all. They sacrifice young people at giant orgies we are so "lucky" to catch a glimpse at an orgy so we are treated to loads of old people having sex! Moore discovers the truth and is drugged. The effect of the drug is pretty gruesome since it is like being buried alive he appears to be dead and cannot move, but his mind will be fully working! In the end the doctors at the morgue realizes that Moore must be dead and any attempt to revive him is abandoned. Instead they are going to perform an autopsy on him. Just before the autopsy is going to begin Moore gains a little control over his hand sadly the doctor performing the autopsy is a member of the cult and he kills him! Pure evil!
Short Night of the Glass Dolls is a very unusual giallo mainly because of the pace. It is remarkably slow moving and lacks the stylish and vicious killings, which almost defines the giallo genre. The overall feeling of the movie reminds me a lot more of Roman Polanski's The Tenant (1976) and Rosemary's Baby (1968). The Anchor Bay DVD from The Giallo Collection is brilliant and the 11-minute interview with director Aldo Lado is very informative. Especially his views on how the movie reflects on how the political elite buries people alive (reassigning them for example) when they come too close to the truth about the elite (hey, he is from Italy!), and how the old generation (the elite) lives of the blood of the young generation (the young has to fight the wars the elite engages in). Aldo Lado also directed the giallo Who Saw Her Die? (1972), which is also part of the box set. Both movies have a brilliant score by Ennio Morricone, but they are used very differently in Who Saw Her Die? it was almost vulgar and in Short Night of the Glass Dolls the score is used very subtle. This has to be my favorite giallo so far! Go see it!
My rating: 8/10
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