Saturday, 31 May 2008

Cover Girl Killer

This 1959 British thriller is the kind of film which had it been made fifteen years later in Italy would probably have been a fine trash / sleaze giallo with a black gloved killer and plentiful J&B, pulchritude and stalker-cam. Think Strip Nude for Your Killer without the stripping...

The obvious suspect / red herring

Running just under an hour, the film sees a moralistic serial killer murdering his way through the cover girls of Wow! magazine, luring them with promises of work and leaving them posed in macabre tableaux morte based on the photoshoots.

The police and Wow!'s new proprietor, an archeologist incongruously left the maagzine and the Kasbah nightclub by his uncle, find their investigations hampered by the fact that the killer wears a disguise, his ill-fitting wig and coke-bottle glasses ensuring that everyone who sees him remembers but also has no idea of who he really is.

“She's the showgirl with the most on show,” which by the standards of Britain, 1959 wasn't very much...

The sole exception – and the thing which distinguishes the film from the giallo while helping generate suspense even as it removes the red herring element – is that the viewer knows the killer's identity from the outset. He's played by Harry H. Corbett, best known to the British audience from the long-running TV series Steptoe and Son.

A vital piece of photographic evidence

Unfortunately Corbett is about the only thing the film has going for it, with flat direction, generally poor performances and – as might be expected – little real sleaze content except that inherently attaching to its grimy, low-rent milieux. (“I've got a divorce coming up. If she's dead I've saved myself a lot of money,” remarks one husband whose star-struck wife walked out on him.)

The next victim, again declining to strip nude for her killer...

An amusing self-reflexive element sees the killer pose as a film producer seeking to make a cheap cash-in production based on the selfsame killings, just the sort of thing you can imagine the producers Butchers themselves doing.

Writer-director Terry Bishop (a hypenate combination surely more about economy than auteur aspirations) also made the similar-sounding Model for Murder the same year.

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