Country: ITALY/WEST GERMANY
Chi l'ha vista morire?
1971-2 was the period in which the Italian giallo reached saturation point in the marketplace. In 1972 alone twenty five films were produced, two of which were directed by Aldo Lado. Lado’s debut was the remarkable Short Night of Glass Dolls which he also wrote. It was a hugely disturbing gialli set in communist Czechoslovakia which offered a nihilistic view of a political and cultural elite feeding on the younger generation like decadent vampires. It was also noteworthy for an audacious method of storytelling which saw the protagonist recounting his experiences in flashback form while paralysed on a mortuary slab. His second giallo of the year was the less accomplished but still impressive Who Saw Her Die? Lado was joined in the writing by Massimo D’Avak, Ruediger von Spiess and Francesco Barilli, the latter would go on to write and direct the striking Perfume of the Lady in Black in 1974. Unfortunately the four minds are unable to concoct anything as special as Short Night of Glass Dolls and instead this particular gialli is considerably more formulaic and conventional. This is not a major criticism though because Who Saw Her Die? is a very efficient effort that attains a position of prominence due to an incredible Ennio Morricone score and a deeply unsettling thematic core that resonates due too an inspired choice of location.
Franco Serpieri (George Lazenby) discovers the body of Ginevra Storelli (Dominique Boschero) in a cinema
Jose Quaglio as the pervert lawyer Bonauti
The film is somewhat lacking in stand out set piece sequences and instead opts to build a subtle atmosphere of quiet menace. However a strangulation in a porn cinema and the stabbing of a pervert lawyer in his own personal aviary make up for this. The birds that escape his cages metaphors for the innocent souls he has corrupted. It is possible to predict who the killer is and when it is revealed it isn’t a massive surprise. But Lado does reserve an excellent slow motion death for the perverted psycho. The only weakness is a lack of identifiable motive. We are never entirely sure why the killer commit’s the crimes because the film rushes rather too rapidly to a somewhat contrived conclusion. But these are minor weaknesses because this is a very stylish giallo. The editing is of particular note and the theme of a perverted older generation preying on youth is maintained from Short Night of Glass Dolls to give this formulaic giallo the personal touch that sets it above many of its contemporaries.
© Shaun Anderson 2011