Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Cold Eyes of Fear (1971)

Cold Eyes of Fear (Gli occhi freddi della paura) is a 1971 eurocrime thriller set, for no obvious reason, in London. Director Enzo G. Castellari is probably best known today for The Inglorious Bastards.

The opening sequence is essentially an excuse for some sleaze, before the film proper begins. A man picks up a woman at a London night-club and takes her back to his uncle’s house. We later learn that the man, Peter, is the nephew of a judge. These two soon discover that they are not alone - there is a rather crazed gunman in the house who takes them hostage, for reasons that are not clear at his stage. The plot starts to come together when his accomplice turns up in a rather unexpected way.

This accomplice, Arthur Welt, turns out to be the brains behind the outfit. He’s a convict recently released from prison, and he has a major grudge against Peter’s uncle the judge. He has an ingenious plan for not only gaining revenge but for clearing his name and bringing down the other people involved in his crime. He claims the judge was corrupt and that his partners in crime got off because they were were members of the ruling class while he was left carrying the can.

There are in effect two suspense sub-plots operating simultaneously and the movie cuts back and forth between them. One involves the judge, as we wait to see if he escapes the convict’s vengeance. The other involves Peter and the woman he picked up at the club, and whether they will escape from the two rather unbalanced criminals holding them hostage.

It’s reasonably exciting and done with a certain amount of flair. The biggest problem is the atrocious English dubbing which also makes it difficult to make any judgment on the acting.

The level of violence escalates markedly towards the end and is somewhat overdone, as if the director lacked confidence in his ability to maintain the suspense and decided to go all-out with the violence instead.

It still functions as an entertaining enough thriller and it's worth a look.

The Redemption DVD is very good but it’s a pity that only the English dubbed version was able to be included.


Nigel M said...

I may revisit this film at some stage but must confess on initial viewing I found it a teensy bit disappointing- it had potential but I felt it was potential that was not fully realised.

dfordoom said...

Nigel, that's a pretty fair assessment. The ingredients were there, the plot was OK, the execution was competent, but the style and the flair that distinguishes the best Italian cult movies just wasn't quite there.