Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Killer Must Kill Again (1975)

Expecting another typical giallo, I was surprised to find how sadistic The Killer Must Kill Again really was. This is definitely not your standard Italian giallo, but something much more sinister and disturbing.

It begins with Giorgio (George Hilton) being nagged by his crazy, but rich, wife Norma (Tere Velázquez). Going out for a drive, Giorgio witnesses a serial killer (Michel Antoine) dumping a body, so he then blackmails the killer and hires him to kill his bitchy wife, making it look like a kidnapping so her rich daddy will pay the ransom.

Well, during the kidnapping/murder things go awry as two kids (Alessio Orano and Cristina Galbó) steal the serial killer’s car…with the body of Norma in the trunk. The serial killer then tracks the two kids down to a seaside town where he indulges in some sadistic revenge.

I wouldn’t call The Killer Must Kill Again a giallo, but rather a mean-spirited and violent crime thriller. First off, we know who the killer is all along, so we don’t have the standard giallo whodunit. Secondly, the killer is only after the two kids, so all other victims are people that get in his way. However, the film is just as suspenseful besides these facts and does a wonderful job at ratcheting up the tension while we anxiously wait for the killer to catch up to the two oblivious teens.

While we wait for the killer to arrive, we begin to feel closer to the two teens, making what subsequently happens to them (especially the innocent character that Cristina Galbó plays) all the more hard to watch. When the killer arrives, he finds the virginal girl all alone in an abandoned house (her loverboy is off getting busy with a slutty local, played by Femi Benussi, but annoyingly dubbed – almost to the point where I wanted her to hurry up and die). The killer brutally rapes her in a very uncomfortable and shocking scene that cuts back and forth between the chilling rape and her boyfriend getting it on with the other woman. You are simultaneously disgusted and titillated by the two different scenes, making for a very awkward viewing experience. Kudos to director Luigi Cozzi for making us feel such dissonance with this scene!

Besides the character development that makes us feel for the victims, I thought the actors also did a wonderful job. The real standout was Michel Antoine (aka Antoine Saint-John) as the killer. Not only were his cold, chiseled features scary, but his silent demeanor was also menacing. Without his stoic performance the film might have fallen apart, but he owned his role as a sociopath. The other actors were equally good, though George Hilton faded into the background when the killer/kids storyline took precedence. I especially liked Cristina Galbó as one of the kids – she brought such innocence to the role! I also thought the handsome Alessio Orano did a great job as the sleazeball boyfriend.

Though the likable kids suffer thoroughly at the hands of the killer, their outcome is not as expected. I also liked the tidy wrap-up at the end of Giorgio’s storyline, but after witnessing such disturbing violence I had hoped the ending would have a bit more resonance. While The Killer Must Kill Again has its fair share of nasty brutality (especially towards women), its ending was a bit too “happy” for me. It is a solid film, but probably one I’ll only watch once. Take that to mean what you will…

Available from Amazon!

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