"Stone Cold Dead" is a grimy amalgamation of giallo, crime drama and exploitation archetypes. The sniper's appearance and M.O. are straight out of a giallo, as is the terrific music that pops up whenever they're in action. I also loved the scenes in the culprit's darkroom, whispering voices running rampantly through a damaged psyche. The addition of the camera mount to shoot pictures and bullets at the same time is certainly an inspired touch. Psychological aspect aside, it ensures that the various murder scenes lack a feeling of repetition.
The atmosphere of the film is one of grunge and decay. Lensed in a cold, distant style suiting the material, there's an ample amount of sleaze on display as we're treated to the underbelly of Toronto. Kurtz dealing with his girls and Boyd's quest to bring him down get as much screen time as the hunt for the killer.
Paul Williams gives a standout performance as Kurtz, a classy type who actually shows a level of compassion and respect for those under his employ. His character is supposed to be scum, yet I actually found him more likable than Crenna's hard-ass sergeant. Boyd isn't all bad, however, as he makes sure that his pet fish are taken care of when he's too busy to come home. How? By rigging up a contraption that feeds them when he calls his house. Genre favorite Michael Ironside shows up in one of the briefest roles ever as an ill-fated cop. Tease. I was going back and forth between two characters when it came to determining the sniper's identity. I managed to get it right about 15 minutes before the reveal. The revelation scene itself is a winner, as the individual playing the guilty party gives an impressive performance.
While it isn't perfect, this seldom-seen little cheapie has a lot going for it, especially if you're into gialli. It's also quite similar in overall feel to another seedy Canadian flick from the period, "American Nightmare", only this one's actually worth watching!