Sunday, 19 September 2010

Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975)

Italian cult cinema of the 60s and 70s produced some brilliant and imaginative film-makers who were masters of the art of spectacular visual imagery and cinematic style. Andrea Bianchi, the director of Strip Nude for Your Killer (Nude per l'assassino), was not one of them.

This movie is often regarded as representing the bottom of the barrel as far as giallos go. This reputation is richly deserved.

I was going to give you a rough outline of the plot but this film doesn’t have one. The concept of plot implies a series of vents that have some connection. If there was any connection between the events in this movie I failed to notice it. At the end we’re told how the events were connected. But they weren’t. Filming a series of random events and then at the end pretending that they form a pattern just isn’t good enough. Massimo Felisatti is credited with the screenplay and frankly I’m surprised that someone actually got paid to write this stuff.

The random events are of course a series of gory murders, filmed with a breath-taking lack of imagination. In between the murders the female members of the cast take their clothes off a lot, presumably so we won’t notice the complete absence of anything remotely resembling a plot. There’s also some comic relief. If there’s one thing that can make bad movie absolutely unendurable it’s comic relief, and the comic relief in this one is truly dire.

Bianchi does understand the ingredients needed for a successful giallo. You need glamour, so we have a fashion photography background. You need gory murders, so he provides gory murders. And you need naked women. So he provides naked women. Lots of naked women. And other giallos feature motorcycle-riding homicidal maniacs so he adds one of those as well. When it comes to assembling the ingredients he unfortunately doesn’t have a clue.

OK, so it’s just a sleazy crime movie, it’s not trying to be a Bergman movie or an Antonioni movie, so the real question is - is it entertaining? The answer to that is, not really. If you’re an Argento you can get away with gore by doing it with style and artistic flair. If you’re a Bianchi or a Fulci you just have gore and it gets tedious. And while I’d be the last person in the world to criticise a movie for its sleaze factor (I do after all own most of the Jess Franco movies released on DVD) sleaze is like gore - it needs to be done with a bit of panache, or at least a bit of enthusiasm.

Oddly enough Andrea Bianchi went on to direct Malabimba, The Malicious Whore a few years later, a movie that is every bit as sleazy as Strip Nude for Your Killer but a great deal more fun. And Malabimba even has a plot. It is in fact one of the all-time sleaze classics and I highly recommend it. So perhaps the failure of Strip Nude for Your Killer isn’t entirely Bianchi’s fault, or perhaps with Malabimba he simply found more congenial material - it certainly has a very high bizarreness factor which helps a good deal.

But even Edwige Fenech can’t do much to save Strip Nude for Your Killer, although she at least looks good. Which raises another problem with this movie - the characters display a very disturbing lack of consistency, switching suddenly from one mood to another for no valid reason. Edwige Fenech’s fame as an actress might rest largely on her willingness to disrobe but she was actually fairly competent. In this movie she isn’t convincing, nor is anyone else.

The biggest problem of all though is that this is a movie that just doesn’t have enough of a weird factor, or a camp factor, to make it entertaining in spite of its glaring flaws.


Nigel Maskell said...

haha, that is an absolute gem of an opening paragraph- bianchi definitely was not one of them- on some other points- malabimba I found hard going and even the hardcore inserts failed to perk up that much interest for me- and strip nude for your killer I probably enjoyed a lot more than you by the sound of things- I find it a lot of fun, but its not art at all is it :)

dfordoom said...

Nigel, the version of Malabimba I saw didn't have the hardcore inserts.

I guess both Malabimba and Strip Nude for Your Killer are equally trashy (and I do love trashy). Perhaps I just enjoyed Malabimba more because I'm more of a fan of supernatural horror than of the giallo genre.

cblaze said...

I often wondered about this one... Glad to see I haven't been missing much - I guess I could just watch Malabimba again...

dfordoom said...

Watching Malabimba again seems like a good idea to me!

Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

I'm very relieved to see you didnt like this one. I'm a big fan of gialli, but I disliked this film immensely. For me the problem lies in a series of repulsive characters that offer no means of emotional of sympathetic investment. The 'hero' ends the film threatening to sodomise his girlfriend, which illustrates what constitues heroism in the eyes of the filmmakers. I should point out though that Bianchi did direct 'Night Hair Child' before this, and that was a decent psychological horror film.