"The star of New York's ARTISTIC DANCE CENTRE lies dead in the Centre's shower. A large hat-pin protrudes from her bare breast...it has pierced her heart, killing her instantly. She will be the first of many dancers to die a similar death in a series of mysterious murders that will baffle New York's finest police, and lead to speculation that another dancer at the Centre is responsible. Ambition and jealousy...the motive. A classic "who-done-it" with great plot and beautiful cast"
Take a grab at the plot of FATAL GAMES (1983), add the anti American sentiments of THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982), spice with the fitness craze of PERFECT (1984) and set it in the dance academy milieu of FAME (1980) and what do you end up with? Well, any one with half a sense would say "nothing" or possibly "a turkey", but Lucio Fulci said "Action!" and the cameras began rolling on possibly one of the worst films of Fulci's career.
The plot, if it can be called that, is summed up by the film's sublimely cheesy, tagline: New York's best dancers are dying for a part in the next Broadway hit. Which, by the way, is as clever as the film gets. The story(?) revolves round the New York "ARTS FOR LIVING CENTER"(!!) where a troop of young hopefulls are spending the days jumping around in tights and leg warmers to the off-beat count of choreographer Candice Norman (Olga Karlatos) - an ill fated ex dancer with a serious FAME complex. When the fact that the star of the class is murdered affects the daily routine of boob bouncing moves she snaps, "If you want to be a success you've got to grit your teeth and dance, even when a friend dies!" Yes, for it seems a murderer will stop at nothing to get one of the three parts that has been promised the school in the next Broadway smash produced by a couple of leering men in suits. (OK, so I don't remember their names, and truth be told It's hard remembering anyone's name in this mess of a film, especially considering they all got cliché Yankee names like; Will, Bob, Dick, Gill, Suzy, Bert etc. etc.).
I don't want to spoil the "mystery" for you but as you probably already figured out that is not the reason for the murders. No-no, the motif, if you want to call it that, is far more, er ... complex, (should it say far-fetched?). At least complex enough to escape "New York's finest" until the last ten minutes of the film. The New York's finest being represented by an indifferent slob of a police lieutenant named Borges (Claudio Cassinelli), who spend most of his time scoffing peanuts whilst mumbling priceless comebacks like, "You mean he's a psycho?" "No, he's an ass hole!"
The killer (or asshole) meanwhile, in another jaw dropping move to make the film original (as if it would need it), murders by sticking hat-pins in to the hearts of the victims. Something that makes for would-be grizzly sound effects and plentiful close ups of sweaty boobs. As the murders don't seem to alarm anyone that much, neither police nor dancers, Candice pursues a quest for a man who haunts her in her dreams, and hooks up with George Webb (these intriguing names!) - a washed up actor portrayed by Ray Lovelock (isn't life ironic?). Who for the better part of the movie gets to act as the most obvious red herring ever in giallo cinema.
I would like to think there was more to say about this film, but actually there isn't, it may sound like great fun, but after fifteen minutes the kitsch factor is exhausted. And what could have been a slab of hilarious cheese becomes a mind numbingly dull and predictable TV-esque thriller. MURDER ROCK gets the one star for the photography and editing alone, in which Guiseppe Pironi and Vicenzo Tomassi desperately try to make the film look better than it is. But if you run across it out there, at a cheep price, it could be worth picking up just for the dubious pleasure of seeing just how many minutes of sexualised disco dancing you can fit into the first thirty minutes of a giallo.
... And don't get me started on Keith Emerson's soundtrack, then I'd have to be merciless.
female:5 / male:0
1) Female hat-pinned to death
2) Female killed, not shown, but reported to have been hat-pinned to death
3) Female hat-pinned to death
4) Female hat-pinned to death
5) Female hat-pins her self to death (!)