Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Death Walks on High Heels (1971)

This robust giallo is a bit smarter than the average genre entry. The devious screenplay holds several surprises, as many of these films do, but it also contains a welcome amount of common-sense reactions from its characters (i.e. when Nicole the heroine is threatened by a masked man, her first course of action is, sensibly, to leave the city). There's also the expected amount of red herrings, last-minute twists and incidental characters holding vital clues, but it's constructed tightly enough that it never wears or feels formulaic. There's a sudden shift in dynamics halfway through, wherein the film shifts tone from its modest first half and careens wildly about through slasher madness, creeped-out voyeurism, bizarre comedy, carefully-parceled police procedural and all-out slugfest; fortunately, director Luciano Ercoli keeps this all under just enough control that it proves dynamically entertaining. Also not to be discounted: The last-act revelation of the Unexpected Killer is prefaced by a whole bunch of scenarios with people, intentionally or otherwise, passing as something they aren't (Nicole doing a striptease while made up as a black woman; her crude boyfriend Michel constantly mistaken for her pimp; a blinded man continuing to play blind even after his sight starts to return). Structurally sound for the genre and thematically intriguing, this obscurity deserves to be considered a minor giallo classic.

Grade: B


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