Interesting but a waste of Fenech and Pleasence.
- Phantom of Death review by NP
By 1988, giallos had been around for a long time and had understandably passed their peak. Here we have a good concoction of the usual ingredients - a whispering voice on the phone, a shambling police agent and some gory set-pieces set amidst elegant backdrops.
Directed by Ruggero 'Cannibal Holocaust' Deodato, this production is a showcase for the lesser appeals of the 1980s. An occasional backdrop of soulless, Linn-drum 'pop' music that typified the latter half of that decade and outsized shoulder pads and garish colourful fashion, and an expansive gloss that reminds me of the increasingly preposterous America soap giants like 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' - luckily the three leads are not too blighted by such elements.
Dependable Michael York plays lady-magnet and pianist Robert Dominisci as well as he plays all his roles; Edwige Fenech has nothing much to do as Hélène Martell, his stunning girlfriend and a disinterested Donald Pleasence shuffles around as Inspector Datti, forever on the trail of the mysterious killer. His performance falls because he has no character, and his rant in the street ("You murdering b******! I kill you! I kill you!") amidst shoppers who don't bat and eyelid, is very odd in particular.
Pino Donaggio's score is good, but doesn't possess the stirring majesty of Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai, and the smooth veneer of the production takes away many elements that personified giallo films at their peak. As such, this leans towards police procedural featuring a sympathetic, deformed killer, albeit with some beautiful locations. Dominisci's Jekyll/Hyde-like degeneration has a tragic permanence to it. Sadly for Datti, here is a criminal who did everything he could to get caught - and still the inspector failed to catch him.
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