Also known as "Solamente Nero," this exceptional entry in the violent Italian mystery-thriller genre known as Giallo was directed by little-known (in North America) Antonio Bido. Though he admits in the included video interview to emulating director Dario Argento (who helped pioneer the specialty genre), Bido also proclaims his goal was to present his mystery in a less stylized format. All of Bido's instincts pay off as we follow a college professor's efforts to help his brother, a priest, discover the identity of a killer who not only murders key townspeople, but threatens the priest's life as well. The delectable Casini is somewhat important to the plot, although a major nude scene in Anchor Bay's uncut DVD also provides a brief carnal interlude in Bido's deliberately paced shocker.
Casini, last seen in "Suspiria" (remember the barbed wire playpen?) isn't the only Argento connection in Bido's film. Though veteran genre composer Stelvio Cipriani wrote the music, Argento's main band Goblin performs the moody score, though it's far more restrained than their previous Argento works.
Anchor Bay's DVD presents a clean transfer, with (presumably) Bido's curiously muted exterior colours, and richly decorated interiors. The print, while showing obvious wear marks, is a vast improvement over the poor full frame video transfers that often plagued these modestly budgeted shockers. Cinematographer Mario Vulpiani's composed some arresting images, though a few night sequences use obvious (and perhaps hasty) day-for-night shots that lessen the dramatic intensity. The blacks are average, with some visible artifacting in a few high contrast shots - particularly in the small church.
The mono soundtrack mix benefits from Bido's use of music-only in key montages, but several dialogue passages have variable levels; while a death scream may register just fine, some softer exchanges will require a slight volume boost - a rather frustrating experience which should have been fixed.
Anchor Bay's extras include the film's trailer, a director filmography, and a short but excellent interview with Antonio Bido. A down-to-earth and affable man, Bido provides some personal history on his early career, and the soundtrack's peculiar legal issues at the time. Bido also admits that while some "junk" was produced in the seventies, several effective shockers prove the Giallo will remain an alluring and much endeared genre.
This title is available separately or as part of Anchor Bay's Giallo Collection box, which contains Bloodstained Shadow, Case of the Blood Iris, Short Night Of Glass Dolls, and Who Saw Her Die?
© 2002 Mark R. Hasan
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