Luciano Ercoli’s 1970s Death Walks Twice gialli are a camp cult scream

Death Walks…

From Arrow Video comes the restored, limited edition release on Blu-ray and DVD of Luciano Ercoli’s Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight starring giallo icon Nieves Navarro (aka Susan Scott).

In 1971’s Death Walks on High Heels (La morte cammina con i tacchi alti), Navarro plays Parisian nightclub dancer Nicole, the daughter of a murdered jewel thief, who encounters a black-clad assailant with piercing blue eyes demanding to know the location of her father’s stolen diamonds. Suspecting her jealous lover Michel (Simón Andreu) is her assailant, Nicole leaves for London with her wealthy admirer, Dr Robert Matthews (Frank Wolff). But death stalks her at every turn…

In 1972’s Death Walks at Midnight (La morte accarezza a mezzanotte), Navarro takes on the role of glamour model Valentina, who asks her photographer and on/off lover Gio (again played by Simón Andreu) to film her whilst under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. In the midst of the high she witnesses a murder, which turns out to have taken place six months earlier. When Valentina sees the killer again, she turns sleuth to solve the mystery…

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Coming out of the giallo boom in the early 1970s and owing a debt to Dario Argento’s Bird With a Crystal Plumage, Ercoli’s Death Walks psycho-thrillers are a camp cult treat serving up twisted and perverse plots which verge on spoofs of Alfred Hitchcock and Edgar Wallace, dressed in the most seductive of 1970s stylings imaginable and set to some stirring Stelvio Cipriani soundtrack scores.

While giallo fans can’t praise High Heels high enough, I found it way too convoluted, poorly structured, and deeply sexist. And when you finally get to the well-executed finale (after one WTF twist a la Psycho), you wonder why it took so many sideways paths to get to the bleeding obvious.

Midnight, on the other hand, is an über stylish treat and a real hoot to boot. I can watch this one over and over just for Navarro’s captivating performance as the resilient heroine (she should have got her own TV crime series), the gorgeous palette and production design, and the inventive camerawork. For me, this was Rear Window meets Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

The limited edition Arrow Video release (3000 copies) feature new 2K restorations of both films from the original film elements, presented on Blu-ray and standard DVD, with the original Italian and English soundtracks to choose from, and new English subtitles. A 60-page book is included along with an array of special features on each disc.

Death Walks in High Heels_coverDEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS
• Audio commentary from Tim Lucas
• Introduction by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
From Spain with Love: Archive interview with director Luciano Ercoli and actress/wife Nieves Navarro
Master of Giallo: screenwriter Gastaldi on how to write a successful giallo
Death Walks to the Beat: Interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani
• Original Italian and English trailers

Death Walks at Midnight_coverDEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT
• Audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas
• Introduction by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
• Extended TV version of the feature
Crime Does Pay: screenwriter Gastaldi on crime film writing
Desperately Seeking Susan: an academic visual essay by Michael Mackenzie

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About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 27, 2016, in Giallo, Must See, Must-See, Thriller, World Cinema and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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