Saturday, 10 March 2007

Strip Nude for Your Killer / Nude per l'assassino

A model from the Albatross Agency dies of a heart attack while undergoing a backstreet abortion. Although the doctor who perfored the operation and the unidentified figure who procured it conceal the circumstances of her death, it soon becomes apparent that someone knows as the doctor himself is murdered. The killer then turns his or her attentions to the owners, staff and models from the agency, be they guilty, innocent or some combination of the two...

Did someone say sleazy; the camera start off lower than this

While it is obvious that the figure, clad in sleek black motorcycle leathers and face-obscuring crash helmet, is not bulky co-owner Maurizio Montani, the list of suspects is otherwise open, albeit constantly narrowing as the killer continues on their quest for vengeance.

Just like Blow-Up in its self-reflexive critique of its medium. Or something...

“Now it's time for your in depth interview”

Could it be Gisella, Maurizio's possessive bisexual wife? Or sleazy photographer Carlo Bianchi, possessing a bad temper and the kind of guy who will opportunistically take test shots of any attractive woman he sees, never mind his camera actually being out of film. (“Do you know just how many of the great fashion models began by doing exactly what you're doing now?”) Or someone nobody would suspect?

Woman as mannequin / mannequin as woman

And the Jess Franco style implication of the film audience as voyeur, perhaps

(Strip) Nude for Your Killer / Nude per l'assassino is the kind of giallo that it is difficult to make a case for, operating as it does in lowest common denominator terms of sex and violence.

A black gloved hand pouring J&B; how iconic can you get?

It certainly succeeds in accomplishing what it sets out do, but does it have anything else going for it besides the obvious charms of cast members like Edwige Fenech and Femi Benussi and Berto Pisano's effective score?

Oddly enough, I think yes – albeit in a roundabout way. For while undoubtedly sleazy and exploitative, the film also seems to operate, in its half-conscious ironies, as something of an auto-critique.

The world of fashion and modelling is, of course, one that many gialli, from Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace all the way through to his son Lamberto's Delirium: Photos of Gioia and beyond, have visited. On one level the reason, as here, is obvious: the opportunities the environment affords to showcase beautiful women in various states of dress and undress. Yet, beyond this, the setting can also be seen as frequently expressing ambiguities about glamour as a whole; ambiguities that reside at the core of world itself. We come back, that is, to the double meaning of glamour as something both attractive and illusory / magical.

An almost equal opportunities piece of exploitation; whether Franco Diogene's refusal to strip nude for his killer is a good or bad thing is debatable...

Thus, for example, when Carlo chats up Benussi's character with promises of Vogue covers, it is the sense that she knows he is full of it, but is happily going along because it suits her agenda as well. Likewise, it is the sense that a girl-girl nightclub act is precisely that, nothing to do with any expression of real feelings.

Yet another stereotypical 'fag' meets his demise

And is discovered in a scene that ultimately fails to make sense

In a similar vein while the antics of Maurizio, as he desperately takes a model back to his house and offers her whatever she wants to make love to him, before finding himself unable to perform and thus being forced to resort to an inflatable doll once more, at which point he is dispatched by the killer, are undoubtedly played primarily for grim laughs, they nevertheless also have an almost unbearable sadness to them. (One almost wonders what proportion of the film's audience were more like Maurizio than the lady-killer Carlo, or at least found the former easier to actually emphathise with.)

Nelle pieghe della carne

Beyond this, it is also worth remembering the event around which the whole scenario develops. The legalisation or liberalisation of abortion was, after all, an important topic in many Western countries around this time – including Italy – in the wake of the personal-is-political campaigns of second-wave feminism. And here even if the film's sexual politics are frequently highly dubious, not least in the way Fenech's Magda meekly accepts the treatment she receives from Carlo, the very way in which she is otherwise presented as a more no-nonsense type who takes an active role in the investigation of the mystery is worth thinking about in comparison with the traditional passive / hysterical victim roles she tended to play earlier in her giallo career.

La Ragazza con la pistola - Fenech with short hair and firearm

Not Deep Red in terms of its critical profundity then (what is?) but perhaps a film with slightly more to it than its trash title and reputation would indicate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Remastered Anamorphic Widescreen (NTSC) with ORIGINAL ITALIAN AUDIO and Newly Created English subtitles is available at