Monday, September 16, 2019

Dead redheads -- children, yet -- in Aldo Lado's so-so giallo set in Venice, WHO SAW HER DIE?

Arrow Video is slowly becoming (maybe by now already has become) the go-to company for the particular mystery subgenre of giallo, that Italian-bred forerunner of today's slasher movie. Is this a good thing?

For giallo fans, it most definitely is. For the rest of us, depending on the particular movie, it can be very good (Deep Red), pretty bad (The Bloodstained Butterfly), or simply so-so, as with today's offering), WHO SAW HER DIE?

Released in 1972 and directed and co-written Aldo Lado (shown at right), the movie has to do with a not-quite-serial-killer (he has only "offed" two victims) of redheaded little girls, one of whose dad (George Lazenby, below, center, in another of this would-be actor's tiresome performances), due to the usual incompetence of the Italian police, goes mildly ballistic while searching for his daughter's killer.

Unlike a better 1972 giallo about child murders -- Don't Torture a Duckling -- this one is not nearly as dark and is barely skin deep on any level. Characterization runs the gamut from A to B (if that), as most characters are given but a single trait to play, and some are not even that lucky.

The dead daughter's mom, played by the gorgeous Anita Strindberg (below, shedding a glycerin tear) seems barely there, though she remains strikingly beautiful no matter what the occasion.

In the Bonus Materials (plenty of them, as is usually the case with Arrow Video), critic and giallo-lover Michael Mackenzie assures us that the plotting plays scrupulously fair with the viewer, so that the identity of the killer, when revealed, makes perfect sense. Maybe, but so what? When every character, scene and incident seems so "out of left field,"nothing finally matters much.

The police investigation, such as it is, seems fairly ridiculous, while that of our "hero" dad is heavy with coincidence, if not outright nonsense. And, as is necessary in these gialli, the victims do keep piling up -- in this case not more of the child killings but instead violence committed to keep the identity of the killer under wraps.

All of which makes for those "murder" set pieces for which gialli are famous. The best of these takes place in a crowded movie theater (above), while another is set in a very bright, pretty, bird-filled room (below).

For us folk who've seen enough of this type of film to second-guess the entire mess, the identity of the killer will be obvious -- not so much from those would-be "fair play" plot points as from your finally having to ask yourself with a shrug, "Well, who the hell else could it be?"

So why bother with Who Saw Her Die? As usual with Arrow Video, however good or bad the movie, the Blu-ray transfer is usually magnificent. And so it is here. The film takes place in Venice, Italy, and the exteriors are breathtaking. Venice has rarely looked so good. Even though it was shot back in 1972, watching the movie now should only increase the city's tourism. (That's the thing about Europe as opposed to America: Landmark destinations tend not to change that much over time -- Venice in particular.)

Distributed in the USA by MVD Visual/MVD Entertainment Group, Who Saw Her Die -- running 94 minutes, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and in both an English-dubbed and an Italian language version with English subtitles -- hits the street on Blu-ray tomorrow, Tuesday, September 17 -- for purchase (and I hope for rental, too).  

No comments: