Whilst holidaymaking in Spain a coach party of Americans are unfortunate to find the body of a local girl. None attaches particularly much importance to the unpleasant incident – in addition to the fatal stab wounds, one of the girl's eyes has been plucked out – until one of their own group is subsequently killed and mutilated in the same manner, forcing them to consider the possibility that the killer is among or following them.
The first murder - red gloves and ocular trauma
The coach party / suspects / victims; note John Bartha's yankee tourist in the loud shirt and Jorge Rigaud in the dog-collar at the back
There is certainly no shortage of suspects.
Is it Mark Burton, arrived on the scene at the exact right / wrong moment?
The Reverend Bronson, with his suspicious photos?
Jose, the practical joke playing tour guide?
Mark's estranged, mentally unstable wife Alma, whom we have earlier seen change her flight plans?
The cigar chomping Mr Hamilton, with his straight razor and conservative mindset? (“Safety blades – I was out of them.”)
The lesbian photographer or her girlfriend / model? (“Niaba, is it you? I want to see you in the bedroom. It's the only place to make up.”)
Someone else, whom no-one – except the giallo literate viewer, that is – would expect?
The rain capes, the lesbian couple and the second victim to be
Murder on the ghost train
Whoever and whatever the case and despite the uncomfortable similarities between the killer's modus operandi and that of a murderer in the group's home town of Burlington a year ago, no-one considers abandoning the trip until it is too late and, following some further reductions in their numbers, the group are forced to surrender their passports...
Sometimes one feels sorry for Umberto Lenzi and the way his contributions to the giallo and poliziotto filone have been overshadowed by his cannibal films.
This Italian-Spanish co-production is not, however, one of them.
Lazily directed, with almost every scene breaking down into a procession of zooms and (dis)graced by a bland and unappealing score from Bruno Nicolai that must rank as his work work within the filone, Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro / Eyeball throws just about every cliché imaginable into the mix to a singular lack of effect.
Just check them off:
The traumatic incident that drove the killer insane and motivates the method in their madness.
The reluctant amateur sleuth themselves a suspect and struggling to put their finger on some vital detail about the case. (“I can't put it together, it just doesn't make sense.”)
The mismatched policemen, the one an old timer who operates on the basis of hard-worn experience and is due for retirement and the other a proponent of modern, scientific methods. (“Now you're talking symbolism...”)
The vital clue hidden in an otherwise innocuous photograph.
As is often the case in the giallo the police procedural scenes show a lack of visual imagination - Tom Felleghy's coroner and Inspector Tudelo discussing the autopsy findings in shot-reverse shot style.
Yet another bull in a (Ramblas) china shop moment of zoom abuse
All of this would perhaps be tolerable had the film-makers attempts at innovating by making the killer wear a red rain cape (“like a cat, a big crimson cat”) in lieu of the traditional macintosh and slouch hat not fallen so flat, more likely to induce laughter than terror, and there not been so much co-production padding in the form of flamenco dance interludes and visits to the Ramblas or Sitges.