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Death Walks at Midnight

Death Walks at Midnight (1972)
La Morte accarezza a mezzanotte
Luciano Ercoli

Sergio Corbucci story
Ernesto Gastaldi
Guido Leoni dialogue
Roberto Leoni
Mahnahén Velasco
Manuel Velasco

Nieves Navarro – Valentina (as Susan Scott)
Simón Andreu – Gio Baldi
Pietro Martellanza- Stefano (as Peter Martell)
Claudie Lange – Verushka Wuttenberg
Carlo Gentili – Inspector Seripa
Ivano Staccioli
Fabrizio Moresco
Claudio Pellegrini
Luciano Rossi
Raúl Aparici
Alessandro Perrella
Elio Veller
Giuliana Rivera
Anna Recchimuzzi
Manuel Muñiz
Guido Spadea
Franco Moraldi
Giorgio Penna
Giacomo Pergola
Roberta Cifarelli
Danilo Bellucci
Franco Caracciolo
Vincenzo De Toma – Edicolante
Luigi Norossi
Juan Torres

Review by Sven Soetemans

weird and unrewarding Giallo…,
Rather disappointing and overly ambitious giallo that never is as compelling or exhilarating as it looks. Director Luciano Ercoli (“Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion”) has several great ideas and a talented eye for cinematographic elegance, but his complex film never really succeeds in delivering genuine frights or commitment with the characters. I, refer to “Death Walks at Midnight” as being a giallo, but I’m not totally sure if that’s what it is, in fact. The terrific opening sequences (in which heroine Valentina visions a brutal murder whilst under the influence of a new drug) definitely are giallo-material!

Mysterious and violent images of murder, committed with an unusual weapon (in this case, a vile looking spiked glove) and an unfortunate beauty whose life is in danger because she saw too much. Judging by this fantastic intro, it feel like you’re about to see a giallo that can easily compete with the best efforts in this superior Italian horror sub genre, like for example the earlier work of Dario Argento (Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O’Nine Tales), Sergio Martino (Torso, All the Colors of the Dark) and even Mario Bava (The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Blood and Black Lace). But, as the plot evolves further, the film seems to change into a textbook example of yet another typically Italian exploitation sub genre, namely the “Krimi”, which is the European equivalent of complex crime/detective stories.

As the plot develops more, Valentina finds herself caught in a web of drug-traffic, smuggling and double-crossing and all of a sudden the search for the malevolent killer’s identity is put to the background. Bloody murders change into shoot-outs and horror settings like an asylum or a cemetery suddenly become hectic macho-fights on rooftops and overlong chases. The inevitable final result is a semi-giallo without morbidity and/or a semi-krimi without rawness.

That being said, I would like to stress that “Death Walks at Midnight” still is worth watching, especially for people who appreciate a more complex and demanding substance. Although it contains too many unnecessary story lines and underdeveloped character-drawings, this film is often beautiful to look at and the camera-work is handled with flair and style. Susan Scott is a rather good actress and capable of carrying an entirely complex structure that revolves around her. She receives good feedback from the congested supportive cast.

Many little gimmicks and details featuring in this story are so ingenious that it could easily be split over two – or maybe three – separate movies

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70s Films

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