Death Smiles at Murder (1973)


Ewa Aulin in Massaccesi's hallucinatory feverish gothic giallo

Text below written 2016-02-20


I haven't seen this gem, the direction debut from one of my absolute favourite genre directors Aristide
Massaccesi with the famous alias Joe D'Amato, until now.
I watched it on Youtube in streaming video and the picture quality was quite good (it said only 360 p
resolution, but it must've been better than that). I much prefer a film on DVD or Blu-ray but this film
has been hard to find on these media. I guess i'm the last horror film lover to see this great film.

Aristide - Joe, the genre maverick, the wild one, the Great cinematographer, the horror maker, the
pornographer, i love this sympathetic film artist - see the 1999 documentary about him included on i.a.
Stage Fright Blu-ray (UK Exposure Cinema 2013 edition) and the Shriek Show 2-disc edition of
Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper (i don't know if this documentary can be found on Youtube).
R.I.P. Aristide Massaccesi 1936-1999.
Now, i've 3 favourites among his many films: 1. Buio Omega 2. Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals
and then this gothic giallo with an intricate story (i had to look up IMDB to understand the story)

This film has got many alternate english titles as Death Smiles at a Murderer/Death Smiles on a
Murderer or Blood of the Dead, and maybe there are even more.

At first i thought this film was a mess with it's hard to follow fragmentary story, but soon i found that
this great film is best enjoyed with a mind set to Dream Mode. It's like a hallucinatory feverish dream,
a Gothic Giallo with a Bava-esque macabre necrophiliac atmosphere to it.
Also, with a lot of closeups of the blue eyes of Ewa Aulin and of Angela Bo's face, both actresses are
gorgeous and Aristide's camera encaptures their glory to the hilt.
The Maverick Massaccesi loves to zoom into eyes and maverick Jess Franco prefers hiss muff-zoom

The Story: Well, it's so intricate and hard to follow i will skip that, but the main players are 2 couples.
Franz von Holstein (Luciano Rossi) the crazed humpback brother of Greta Holstein (Ewa Aulin) and
he's experimenting with some re-animation formula, and then there's the married couple of Eva von
Ravensbrück (Angela Bo) and Walter Ravensbrück (Sergio Doria) and the goings take place in 1909.

And, we also have a doctor Sturges played by Klaus Kinski, who's also interested in the re-animation
secret and has got an underground laboratory, and Walter's father Herbert von Ravensbrück played
by Giacomo Rossi Stuart. There's 2 servants, Gertrude (Carla Mancini) and Simian, the latter playing
a surprisingly important part for some unknown reason (to me ... the story is really hard to follow).

There's some nudity with Ewa Aulin topless and Angela Bo nude and there's some not too impressive
gore as the cat claw one practised on Franz as witnessed on the sleeve (see pic above).
But, beware of the Needle in the eye scene when Dr. Sturges puts a needle into Greta's eye as it looks
uncomfortably real, yuck. I'm thinking of Bo A. Vibenius 1974 lowbudget cult classic Thriller here, it
has a sensational real looking needle in a eye scene, and as everything else looked B-ish in the film the
explanation was Nasty, they supposedly used a real corpse and sneaked into some morgue


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