Trivia Tonino Valerii is best known for a string of Spaghetti Westerns, including the apparently famous My Name is Nobody
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My Dear Killer (1972)
8th Jun 08
A bizarre decapitation by crane leads Inspector Peretti into a case of blackmail, deceit and the unsolved kidnapping of a young girl.
The Italian giallo genre is one that should never be underestimated. Essentially they’re just whodunits with added gore, bridging the gap between the Agatha Christie type detective novels and the American slasher boom of the late 70s, early 80s, and are usually proliferated by cheesy clues followed by rather imaginative death scenes. In this respect, My Dear Killer is no exception, and considering how early this entry is in the whole giallo stable, it’s a surprise how many of the giallo cliché’s are used so unashamedly, although they are, of course, very welcome and go along way to making My Dear Killer a lot of fun.
The plot is, as usual for this kind of movie, rather convoluted. The opening scene, however, is astounding and nobody is going to be too put out if I let the cat out of the bag and tell you what happens. Picture a balding Italian guy standing by a lake in front of a large green crane with one of those big industrial claws. He signals to the crane driver, points to the lake, then starts down the embankment with the crane trundling after him on huge tractor treads. Then the crane lowers and it looks like it’s about to start dredging the lake for something when – oh no! – it grabs the bald guy and picks him up by his neck! Seconds later the claw closes then opens and the bald guy’s body and head tumble down on to the embankment. Fantastic.
The rest of the film follows Inspector Luca Piretti’s investigation into the bald guy’s death. He was an insurance adjustor named Paradisi who, it turns out, was working on a claim regarding a kidnapping case that went sour. A young girl named Stefania was the victim and the ransom request came in okay, but the money drop off got complicated due to an overzealous relative taking the law into his own hands and the girl was later found dead. And as Piretti looks deeper into the case a healthy selection of possible suspects creep out of the woodwork – was it the school teacher, the chauffeur, the cook, the crazy old fart that lives in the shack on the lake, the war crippled Uncle, the sculptor who has an unsavoury taste in underage nude models, the clearly insane mother, Paradisi’s estranged girlfriend, who? What happened to the crane driver? And why does Piretti’s wife want a baby so much, can’t she see Piretti’s a workaholic with a short temper?
Loads of questions I know, but for once we can safely say that My Dear Killer does deliver on all fronts. There are a lot, and I mean a lot of red herrings thrown at you in this movie – things like characters entering stage left at suspicious moments, flashing guilty looks at each other, characters that have nothing to do with the plot whatsoever, characters having carnal affairs that have nothing to do with the plot either, you get the idea. They also use that suspense device employed a little more effectively in Silence of the Lambs where someone knocks on a door at the end of a scene and a different door is opened at the start of the next – shock horror! But my personal favourite is almost worth the price of admission alone – when one character opens the door to a POV shot with the immortal line “Oh, it’s you, you’d better come in.”, before the POV shot pans to a workbench with a circular saw idly waiting on it. It took me a few minutes to recover from at one.
So if giallos are your thing, I thoroughly recommend My Dear Killer, although expect to laugh at its cheesiness quite a lot. Carry On Giallo might make a good alternate title - I noted one scene that included a POV shot from a black gloved killer, moving through the shadows, with broken glass and power tools - plus you get your usual assortment of young ladies taking their tops off occasionally for no apparent plot progressing reason. And the final denouement scene that wraps everything up comes straight out of an Agatha Christie, or maybe A Shot in the Dark, with added lights going out at the right moment adding to the fun. In fact, Piretti doing his Hercule Poirot bit is pure cash back and well worth looking forward to, especially as it’s followed so swiftly by the ending. ”It was you!” – End. Brilliant - another wonderful release by the ever exceptional Shameless Films. It must be time to just buy everything they release without question, surely.