The Death Walks Twice box set from Arrow Films highlights two gialli by director Luciano Ercoli. One is better than the other, but they follow the gialli formula to the letter and are both a lot of fun on a party night where Apples to Apples just won’t cut it.
The thing that makes this pair of movies an interesting combination to watch is the casting. Ercoli uses the same main actors for both films, playing similar roles. Simon Andreu had the market cornered on sleazy smiles and bad skin, true marks of an anti-hero. Susan Scott (whose real name was Nieves Navarro) plays the damsel in distress. She’s a model in both movies, and she has seen too much to be allowed to live.
In Death Walks on High Heels, Navarro plays the daughter of an international jewel thief. Oh, that guy. He’s got painted grey hair and an eyepatch. He looks like a child playing Omar Sharif. No wonder he gets offed in the first ten minutes of the movie. With his death, the hunt is on for the jewels he hid before dying. Everyone thinks Navarro knows where they are. She might. She might not. But somebody thinks the information is worth killing for.
Despite a pretty hefty second act twist, Death Walks on High Heels is too silly to take seriously. Gialli are known for being convoluted, but this one could have used a little more clarity. There’s a lot of talking in circles and when the final knot is unravelled, it’s with such a short yank, you’ll scarcely believe that was it.
Death Walks At Midnight is a better film in every respect. This time, Navarro’s character agrees to take the hallucinogenic drug, HDS, for a tabloid magazine, so the straights can vicariously enjoy the drug scene. Simon Andreu is the greaseball photographer documenting the whole thing. He has promised her anonymity. He is a liar. The drug has the interesting side effect of letting Navarro see a murder. When she reports it to the police, they figure out the crime she has reported happened six months previously.
Mad points to this movie for some bitchin’ weaponry; instead of the standard straight razor, the killer in this film uses a spiked armored fist. It’s like a meat tenderizer you can wear, and it certainly shoots the brutality meter up a few notches. The acting is good, and the plot resolution will leave your head spinning.
As always, Arrow has done justice to both of these films. The high definition transfer is fantastic. The sound is glorious mono, in either English or Italian, and the special features will teach you more than you’ve ever wanted to know about these two films.
Arrow has yet to deliver a disappointing set, and the Death Walks Twice collection shows us the company at the top of their game. Even if the movies themselves are unequal in quality, their presentation is not, and there’s a lot to enjoy here. Snag the limited edition if you can for even more special features.
Death Walks Twice: Two Films By Luciano Ercoli was released by Arrow Video on April 5.