Seventies Horror Served Up with Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercoli Blu-ray Release

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Death Walks Twice Giallo Blu-ray

DEATH WALKS TWICE is a 2-film, 4-DVD Limited Edition set on BluRay and DVD from Luciano Ercoli comprising his classic GIALLO Italian Horror classics: 1971’s DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS and 1972’s DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT.

Both of these movies are considered two of the finest examples of the Giallo genre (think crime, mystery, blood and horror all in one, done in 70’s Italian style) and both star Nieves Navarro (billed in the movies under her adopted stage name of Susan Scott).

DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS has Scott starring as Nicole Rochard, an exotic dancer and the daughter of a murdered jewel thief. She is stalked by someone who feels she knows the whereabouts of a stash of stolen diamonds her father had stolen. Desperately trying to get away, she runs off with Doctor Robert Mathews (Frank Wolf), who is infatuated with her. He takes her from the club where she dances to a small village where he lives, and puts her up in a home as his mistress since he is unhappily married but hasn’t left his wife yet because--she has all the money! But Nicole hasn’t gotten away at all. There are lots of twist and turns, and all the loose ends don’t tie up until the very end, when the culprit does his villainous monologue after being caught.

DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT finds Scott portraying Valentina, a model who--after being tricked into a drug induced photo shoot--witnesses a gory murder in the apartment opposite hers. When she describes the murder to the police, it appears that the murder she is describing happened six months earlier even though she just witnessed it. This has the police baffled and she is forced to try and solve the crime herself. This movie, like the other, will have you trying to figure out what exactly is going on, with mysterious figures popping up here and there in some “where did that come from?” moments. But it’s all filmed so wonderfully and seductively at times (okay, borderline sexploitation) that the gaps in plot don’t really matter and it all makes sense in the end.

I loved both of these movies. They are so much fun to watch. Yes, I know they are supposed to be horror, but let’s face facts: compared to the over-the-top gore-fests that we have seen in the past couple of decades, these are just downright tame by comparison. But believe me, that doesn’t take away from the movies at all, because what I really like has not been captured by any of the modern day gore-fests, and that is in the overall cinematography. These films harken back to a simpler, less special-effect time of movie-making, where filming the scene is what set the mood for the horror and the mystique.

And no one does sexy horror like the Italians! While today it is common to have full frontal nudity and unabashed sex in a horror movie--gratuitous, if you will--the Italian cinema hints at it and gives you glimpses of it to let your imagination take you the rest of the way. For instance, in these movies you can see a woman’s breasts but you might not see all of them, or they are covered by flimsy material allowing you short glimpses of the body--more sensual than sexual. And it isn’t always about the obvious body parts. Sometime it is the way we see a woman sitting on a bed, painting her toenails. While today’s cinema would pass that off as a random filler scene, it is filmed here with all the sensuality and importance of a major event. Like I said, no one can do it like the Italians, and few could do it like Luciano Ercoli.

It is also fun to see that 70’s “feel” in the movie: the cities, clothes, even the mannerism transport you back into that time frame; a time when just about everyone on screen is seen smoking a cigarette at one time or another! And yes, I’ll say it again, only the Italians can make lighting someone’s cigarette sexy.

Now, I will say this: don’t expect any great thespian acting. In that respect, it ain’t Hollywood. But all of the acting again adds to the fun, and while the plots will keep you guessing for most of the movies, don’t expect the kind of movie where you have all the clues to the who-done-it carefully woven into the movie. There are a couple of clues thrown at you, but they are more of a misdirection or a setup for something you will see later on. Think more along the lines of things being introduced later on in the movie that were not part of the first half of the movie, save a for momentary reference, to where you may be saying to yourself, “Where’d they come from?” or “When did that happen?”

The Blu-ray treatment here--especially on a 4K TV--is stunning! There are times in the movie the clarity, depth, and color are so spot on I almost feel like I could have reached in and lit their cigarette for them. So often in movies such as these, when they are kicked up to high def, they become grainy and the colors get washed out. But not here. It could not be because these are taken from the original camera negatives. The picture quality is excellent. And the sound? Well, it’s hip and cool as only the early 70’s were.

For those of you film buffs that have always heard about the Giallo movie genre, but never had the opportunity to see what is was all about, here is a set definitely worth owning if you can get it. The movies are presented in both English and, if you want the full experience, Italian with on-screen titles and audio.

This set is chock full of extra’s that will not only bring you up to speed on Giallo, but might even make you an expert.

Extras Included in the movies:

Death Walks At Midnight:

  • Death Walks At Midnight: TV Version: The TV version is notable for containing footage not present in the theatrical cut, and is presented in its entirety.
  • Crime Does Pay: A Brand new interview filmed in Rome in November 2015. Screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi reflects on his career in crime-film writing business, including a look at Death Walks At Midnight.
  • Desperately Seeking Susan: A visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the distinctive Giallo collaborations between Director Luciano Ercoli and actor Nieves Navarro.
  • Audio Commentary With Tim Lucas

Death Walks On High Heels:

  • From Spain With Love: Director Luciano Ercoli and Actress Nieves Navarro interviewed at their home in Barcelona in March 2012
  • Master Of Giallo: Brand new interview in which Ernesto Gastaldi discusses Death Walks At Midnight and a career of script-writing crime films.
  • Death Walks To The Beat: Brand new interview from October 2015 in which Composer Stelvio Cipriani discusses a lifetime of making music for the movies including a look at Death Walks On High Heels.
  • Trailers
  • Audio Commentary with Tim Lucas
4.5 / 5.0