Johnny Sweatpants' rating: **1/2
Crystal Math's rating: *** 1/2
Much like Cat O’Nine Tails and The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Argento draws primarily from Hitchcock whodunits, though the film does boast some of the artistic flourishes that becomes synonymous with his later, more impressive works.
It begins with a mysterious old man with dark sunglasses stalking our groovy protagonist Roberto, the drum player of a totally likeable rock band. Within ten minutes of the opening credits, Roberto confronts the man in an abandoned theater, a knife fight ensues and Roberto accidentally kills the man. To make matters worse, the murder was witnessed and photographed by a masked creep situated at the top of the theater. The masked figure doesn’t turn him in to the police, nor does he use the photographs as blackmail. Instead he uses the knowledge as leverage to make Roberto’s life completely miserable. Scenes transition without the audience knowing how much time has lapsed between one moment and the last, so we are just as disoriented as Roberto in trying to make sense of it all.
When the masked nuisance takes things further and starts killing his pets and friends, Roberto hires a gay private investigator to get to the bottom of it all before more bodies pile up. As a side note, Argento should be commended for depicting a homosexual character in a 1971 film as a regular, likeable guy (although he does admit to never having solved a case).
JSP's input: I looked forward to this one as it is one of the only Dario Argento films I had not yet screened. It is a typical, if underwhelming example of his early work.
At first I pegged the maid as the killer but within five minutes of making my accusation her throat was promptly slashed. I was dead wrong with my second guess as well. Sigh. I love a good murder mystery but I have yet to see a perfect one – one where enough clues are dropped along the way for the audience to actually be able to definitely solve the case. This was not the case here.
Crystal Math's input: Over the last three years, I've come to appreciate Argento. You never know who the killer is, but you'll be damned sure to be in for a surprise at the end. The copy of the DVD we got had three or four minutes of *essential* dialog cut for American audiences and I only found this annoying because I couldn't watch it with the original Italian language and English subtitles. Not super important towards the review but towards feeling like you're watching a movie authentically. Overall I felt the build was great, characters were likeable, but the final reveal and finale happened all too quickly.