starring: George Hilton, Salvo Randone, William Berger, Manolo Zarzo, Patty Shepard, Piero Lulli, Helga Line', Dante Maggio, Alfredo Mayo, Corrado Gaipa, Angesco Di Federico
(back of video blurb):
" (can anyone help me out with this?)"
"The story of Stefania is also the story of your insanity my dear sick killer!"
- Inspector Luca Peretti (George Hilton) confronts the guilty party
Slash with panache?:
MY DEAR KILLER kicks off memorably enough. In an attention-grabbing scene a man, standing by a murky looking lake directs an (unseen) someone in a dredger truck. The driver maneuvers the machine's claw and stops it above the man's head, and, before he has a chance to react, brings the claw down and clasps it around his neck. The man is pulled high into the air, where he struggles for a moment before his body and his freshly severed head come tumbling to the ground…
Later, Inspector Luca Peretti (George Hilton) is welcomed to the scene by his side-kick Maro (Salvo Randone), with the words, "What happened is unpleasantly obvious, but how and why are something else!". Peretti is naturally perplexed by the bizarre murder and why someone would want to dredge a stagnant filled quarry; and sets out to find out who was driving the dredger. He finds the name of the driver who the dead man had hired to assist him and they set about to track him down. Another surprise awaits them when they find their main suspect, who, it appears has hung himself. Peretti, however, is again confused and suspicious and casually remarks to Maro, " He was murdered- it was made to look like suicide.".
Slowly, but inexorably- as the bodies begin to pile up, Peretti becomes increasingly aware of a link of a double murder case from the past involving a young girl, Stefania Moroni, who had been kidnapped and a high ransom demanded from her rich parents. Her father was killed during a bungled rescue attempt and subsequently she was left to starve to death. The perpetrators were never caught.
Peretti discovers, in course, that the man who was decapitated by the lake was an insurance adjuster who had previously worked on the Moroni case- which provides a concrete link between the series of murders. He desperately tries to unravel the mystery as more and more people connected with the murdered man wind up dead at the hands of a black gloved killer who will, seemingly, go to any lengths to keep a secret…
Valerii's giallo is fairly entertaining. There are some pretty brutal moments- the decapitation during the film's opening moments is pure Grand Guginol; and a surprisingly bloody buzz-saw attack where the killer foregoes the traditional knife play for a more automated method of attack. There's also a couple of unusually bleak moments of black comedy- the most notable of which is one provided by the stoically PO-faced Hilton, where he demonstrates how a man could have not committed suicide by hanging himself, by casually using the swinging body as a prop to aid his argument. The dialogue is occasionally witty too- Maro commenting to Peretti that, "If this case of ours continues the way it's going, soon we'll have enough bodies to make up an ice hockey team!"; and there is an excellent and appropriately nervy score by Ennio Morricone.
What lets down the film is its peculiarly lacklustre pacing. Many thrillers from this time are not as fast paced as today's films, but that's usually not a problem- indeed it often allows for some pleasingly intricate mysteries to mature and unfold. Unfortunately, MY DEAR KILLER is just a little too laid back for it's own good. Hilton is fine as the dour faced detective, but there isn't enough dramatic contrast in the film for it to truly engage, and it ends up being a curiously colourless affair. That's not to say it's a complete loss by any means- like any good giallo there are enough twists and turns to keep the viewer, at least,mildly intrigued.
Whilst Valerii's film most certainly has many of the criteria of a classic giallo it also veers into the police/crime genre more than perhaps is expected; spending an unusually long amount of time exploring Hilton's character's dull soap-operarish life.
The film, without giving the game away, ends with what comes across like a clichéd, but enjoyable take on the classic Agatha Christie denouement- right down to Hilton assembling all the surviving suspects in a drawing room, where, when he does his grand unmasking, the killer pulls the plug on the lights descending the room into darkness and screams!
BODYCOUNT 7 female:3 / male:4
1: Male decapitated
with mechanical claw
2: Male found hung
3: Female strangled with neck scarf
4: Female attacked with buzzsaw and clubbed with statue
5: Male found dead from a fracture to his skull (flashback)
6: Female found dead of starvation (flashback)
7: Male beaten around the head with sculpture