La morte accarezza a mezzanotte
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DIRECTED BY: Luciano Ercoli
FEATURING:(AKA Susan Scott), , Pietro Martellanza (AKA Peter Martell), Carlo Gentili, Claudie Lange, Ivano Staccioli
PLOT: Valentina, a model, takes a hallucinogen for a newspaper story and sees a murder in an apartment directly opposite her building—except it seems it was committed weeks ago.
COMMENTS: I can’t call myself an aficionado or even a fan of giallo. I’ve generally overlooked the genre in the past, probably due to associating it with its early 80s cousin, the “slasher,” which tends to be shoddier and lower class than the more cosmopolitan giallo. But a little education over the years, via DVD and Blu-ray, goes a long way. I can now make the distinction between “giallo” and “giallo-adjacent”; more importantly, I can now appreciate films like Death Walks at Midnight.
It’s a follow-up to the director’s previous giallo, Death Walks in High Heels, in that Midnight uses most of the same cast; but unlike the seriousness of Heels, Midnight takes a lighter tone amidst the intrigue and murders. It’s directly influenced by(The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Blood and Black Lace), and in turn would influence later works like ‘s Dressed to Kill.
Navarro’s performance as Valentina makes this one memorable. She’s a very proactive heroine, whether fight-flirting with semi-sleazy journalist/love interest Gio (Andreu) or fending off the prospective killer and potential van rapists. The rest of the cast is also good, from the (somewhat ineffectual, of course) cops to the actors portraying red herrings.
Death Walks at Midnight was released by Arrow Video with both Italian and English soundtracks and audio commentary by Tim Lucas, along with featurettes with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi and an extended television cut. It was re-released as part of Arrow’s “Giallo Essentials” series; the “Blue” box, which includes the two other Ercoli/Navarro giallo collaborations, Death Wears High Heels and The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. If you’re new to and/or undernourished on giallo, Arrows five “Giallo Essentials” Collections—color-coded Red, Yellow, Black, White and Blue—are excellent entries into the genre.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“As in many gialli, the bizarre trappings – weird weaponry, hallucinations, masked heavy-breathers, burbling lounge music, fabulously garish fashions and decors, bursts of ultra-violence – litter plots which turn out to be indecently fixated on money rather than mania.”–Pam Jahn, Electric Sheep (reviewing the “Death Walks Twice” Blu-ray set of Death Wears High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight)