Monday, 24 March 2008

Eglima sto Kavouri / Death Kiss / The Rape Killer

We start off in what seems like Torso territory as a masked, black-gloved figure stalks a couple in a car in order that he may indulge in a spot of rape and murder. There's a difference, however, inasmuch as we first see the masked killer donning his gear and that he's wearing a regular stocking mask that doesn't particularly obscure his features anyway.

The masked killer, sort of

As such, it's not too much of a surprise when we then move onto something more reminiscent to The Killer Must Kill Again with the introduction of playboy ship captain Dimitris/Jim (Larry Daniels / Lakis Komnikos), his wife Eleni (Dorothy Moore) and mistress Laura (Jane Paterson).

Sure you don't want to call it Eastwoodcolor?

Dimitris likes Eleni's wealth and willingness to spend her money on him. He doesn't like her nor being dependent on her. Knowing that the maniac, Mikos/Mike (Vagelis Seilinos), is an ex-colleague, Dimitris thus concocts a plan:

“Ellen is going to be the next woman to be murdered. The police are expecting another murder. And there's going to be another one. He'll kill her and give me a flesh wound. It'll follow the same pattern as the other two murders. It's the only way I could think of to be rid of Ellen and keep my hands on the money.”

The killer is on the phone

The film's main weakness is that the set-up for this murder is a touch too elaborate to really be believable. Given that Dimitris knows Mikos is also a psychopath and a drug user and that Mikos already suspects Dimitris will betray rather than pay him off, is it really plausible that Dimitris would request Mikos shoot him in the shoulder and then beat him about the head with a rock? Isn't there a rather large chance of something “accidentally” going wrong, of receiving a mortal rather than a flesh wound?

The Killer Must Kill Again featured a similarly iconic 'Dracula carrying his victim into the castle' shot, if one remembers correctly

The Killer Must Kill Again was more convincing in this regard. George Hilton's playboy Giordio Mainardi did not try to overcomplicate things and took more opportunistic advantage of Antoine St John's unnamed killer, whom he had happened upon in the middle of disposing of a previous victim, without giving much thought to whether he had really found the ideal man for the job.

“A psychopath's not a professional,” to paraphrase Reservoir Dogs's Mr White.

Professional, however, is unquestionably what the filmmakers themselves are. Eglima sto Kavouri / Death Kiss is a well-crafted, suspenseful little thriller which keeps you engrossed as the conspirators attempt to double cross one another and the police seek to figure out what is really going on. Put another way, it's the kind of film where potential plot holes are sufficiently stitched up and the viewer stitched in – or “sutured” if we want to use theory-speak – until afterwards.

Some measure of their success can perhaps be gleaned from the fact that, if you ignored the characters' names and that of director Kostas Karagiannis along with an otherwise unnecessary folk dancing interlude, you could easily be fooled into believing this was an Italian rather than a Greek production. The requisite details are there: the subjective camera; self-reflexive use of voyeuristic devices like camera and binocular shots; the nightclub/disco scene and lots of modish, if now dated, 70s styles and designs.

Laura and Dimitros

It clearly worked, insofar as the film also secured international distribution thanks to Joseph Brenner Associates, who retitled it as The Rape Killer and unleased it on US grindhouse and drive-in audiences along with the likes of Autopsy, Eyeball and – to bring us right back to where we started – Torso.


Anonymous said...

I just happened to see your blog. Very nice post.
Just to correct the name of the actor is "Lakis Komninos" and he had a good name as an actor during the 70's.
The greek name of the film "Eglima sto Kavouri" means "Murder at Kavouri" which is actually a well known seaside village near Athens.
According to a greek site the film is based on a true crime (Chapman case).

During the early 70s many greek films (many with soft sex scenes) found international distribution. Their quality, however, is in doubt.


K H Brown said...

Thanks for the background information and correction.