There's no denying that Paul Naschy has made and appeared in some wildly entertaining films in his long career. It is disappointing then that 7 MURDERS FOR SCOTLAND YARD is a rather ho-hum Spanish take on the giallo, without the style of its Italian cousins and missing the exuberance of much Spanish horror in the 1970s.
At least on paper, 7 MURDERS sounds like it has enough outlandish plotting to make it a fun thriller. Pedro (Paul Naschy) is a hulking grump in a brown leather jacket, who limps around London with a face like a smacked arse. It turns out that he was a circus performer on the high wire with his wife, Marian. Shown in flashback in blue hues, Pedro comes a cropper in the least spectacular fashion possible (he falls off the safety net!). All he does now is wander round a wet Soho (admittedly looking spectacularly sleazy), and pick fights in pubs.
Seemingly coincidentally, a mad slasher is stalking the streets of London killing prostitutes by knifing them to death and removing some of their internal organs (offscreen). The killer's second victim is Pedro's wife Marian, who it seems has swapped high wire walking for street walking. After her murder, a distraught Pedro is brought to the attention of the police and applies for a job in a morgue (as you do). He soon becomes chief suspect for both the authorities and the criminal gangs that manage the working girls.
The murders continue, and the police – led by Detective Cuthbert Campbell (Renzo Marignano) – note the similarities between these killing and those of Jack the Ripper at the end of the 19th Century. Although the killer seemingly takes umbrage with the comparison and insists he's much more up-to-date with his methods! Cuthbert discusses the case with his old childhood friend and lounge lizard lothario and teenage girl troubling teacher, Winston (Andrés Resino).
Despite every woman he comes within 10 feet of ending up sliced and diced (including waking up next to the corpse of a one night stand), Pedro fights against time to prove himself innocent before either the police or the criminal gangs hell-bent on revenge catch up with him ...
On the face of it, 7 MURDERS should have it all. All of the elements that usually make the giallo such fun are present and correct, but it's all done so drably. José Luis Madrid lacks the finesse of an Argento or Martino, or even the entertaining campiness León Klimovsky brought to another Spanish giallo starring Naschy, the much more entertaining A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE (1974). It's almost as if Madrid is emulating the grey rain swept streets of the capital, rather than revelling in the colourful excesses of swinging London. It also doesn't help that Naschy's instance on playing the tough man all the way through is resoundingly one note, which is a shame as he can sometimes bring pathos to his roles. The stalking scenes and murders are also perfunctory and done without any real panache.
What is right with 7 MURDERS is perhaps not what the director intended, but you have to take your entertainment where you can find it! The film makes much use of point-of-view camera angles to signify the killer's gaze, and it's fun to watch bemused Brits either look directly into the camera or try and duck out of its way! At least a couple of days filming were done in London, but most of the other exteriors (and interiors) were clearly filmed in Spain with a distinctly Spanish cast (with some of the most painful Cockernee dubbing you're ever likely to hear!). No more so is this apparent with shots of a very Euro type train supposedly hurtling from London to Rye in Kent (the killer amusingly undertakes a ghoulish (and long) commuter journey after every murder to deposit body parts in a suitably gothic cellar). The film is blessed by some wonderfully bad acting, and a stand out scene has a drunken prostitute named Belinda launch into a bizarre tirade against men (which gives Lynda Day-George's “BASTARD!” outburst a run for its money in PIECES (1981)). However, my favourite character has to be Sandy (Orchidea de Santis), Winston's plummy wife, who brings much needed glamour to the proceedings by wheeling out cakes on a hostess trolley with a white poodle under one arm, and wearing what looks like a floral curtain. Plus, there's the scene where the killer sends the police an eyeless severed head in a hat box, and they have zero reaction to it; passing it round as if the box actually contained a hat!
All-in-all, this curiously flat example of the genre will probably disappoint all but die-hard fans of either Naschy or giallo cinema.
female:8 / male:5
1) Female stabbed to death with knife
2) Female stabbed to death with knife
3) Female stabbed in back with knife
4) Female found stabbed
5) Male hit by car
6) Female found stabbed to death
7) Female found stabbed to death
8) Male stabbed to death with knife
9) Male stabbed to death with knife
10) Female stabbed in stomach with knife
11) Female stabbed in stomach with knife
12) Male stabbed in stomach with knife
13) Male stabbed in stomach with knife