Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

VHS Vednesday: Watch Me When I Kill

First off, sorry I've been so slack in posting...things have been pretty hectic, and most of my writing time has gone into summarizing the improvised soap opera SCANDAL! at Dad's Garage. But now I'm back with another review.

WATCH ME WHEN I KILL (1977). Directed by Antonio Bido. Starring Paola Tedesco, Corrado Pani, and Franco Citti.

An example of the giallo subgenre of Italian thrillers, Watch Me When I Kill exemplifies many of the strengths and weaknesses of the form--stylish scenes of violence sprinkled throughout time-killing stretches of investigation, populated by an abundance of suspicious characters to throw the audience off the trail. In this particular case, the highs and lows are especially sharply defined. Some of the murders are as effectively staged as anything from Bava or Argento (one brutal scene, in which a woman is scalded to death by having her face shoved into the dinner she'd been cooking, owes an obvious debt to a similar scene in Argento's Deep Red), but most of the remainder of the film is plodding and nonsensical.

One of the best things about the picture is the title...and even that is a misnomer, as all of the murders occur in isolation with no witnesses. In other words, nobody is watching when he kills. It could be taken as a meta-commentary on the thriller genre itself, the title issuing a challenge to the viewer. But I think that's reading a bit too much into it, especially considering that the title was slapped on by the American distributor and was not chosen by director/co-writer Antonio Bido. (The original title, Il gatto dagli occhi di giada, translates as "The Cat with Jade Eyes"--which has even less to do with the story!)

What can I say, I'm a sucker for inappropriate titles (witness my previous review of the strangulation-free Night of the Strangler).

Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?

Franco Citti, in a supporting role as a charismatic ex-convict who goes from being a red herring to a key player in uncovering the killer, was a frequent collaborator with the celebrated director Pier Paolo Pasolini (from Pasolini's debut film Accatone to his next-to-last picture The Arabian Nights). Likewise, Paola Tedesco had worked with Pasolini (The Gospel According to St. Matthew) and Federico Fellini (Satyricon) before appearing as the imperiled heroine...but everybody's got to keep working.



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