The Offbeat Gialli
Yes, i really liked this obscure but GREAT giallo murder
mystery with it's fascinating settings and unusual way of making a Giallo
crime thriller. Maybe i'm overly enthusiastic now, but i rarely get
to see a new giallo that excites me nowadays with all the classics
of the genre long since released on DVD (and Bluray) as the one's from
Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Sergio Martino, Umberto Lenzi,
Aldo Lado etc. so when it happens i do tend to get somewhat panegyrical.
Also, i very much like the strange and/or "unusual" giallo
as Pupi Avati's "House with Laughing Windows", Luigi Bazzoni's
"Footprints on the Moon" and .... Armando Crispino's "Macchie
solari or Autopsy".
Armando Crispino only made a few gialli
and he made them in an unusual and fascinating way, slightly different
from most of the other
entries to the genre. His 1974 "Autopsy/Macchie solari"
is suggestive and interestingly macabre. In 1972 he made his other entry
Giallo genre with his great "L'etrusco uccide ancora - The Etruscan
Kills Again" a film seldom seen but surprisingly good, crime mystery
taking place in the excavation site of the Etruscan City of the Dead
Armando Crispinos "L'etrusco uccide ancora
- The Etruscan Kills Again" cleverly uses the setting of Viterbo
with it's burial ground of
ancient Etruscan tombs and the Etruscan mythology to create a suspenseful
Murder Mystery, and to add a lot of atmosphere.
It is not a gory film but it's Great and with scenes depicting fright
and with suspense, and using Verdi's Requiem to underscore the terror.
Riz Ortolani provided a fine soundtrack and Erico Menczer the crisp
The American archeologist professor Jason Porter (Alex
Cord) has found an un-excavated 2500 years old Etruscan Tomb, in the
ground of Viterbo, Tuscany, Italy. He's an alcoholic and ex-mental patient
but has got a second chance with this job, being invited by
his ex-wife Myra (Samantha Eggar) and her boyfriend Nikos Samarakis
(John Marley), who lives in a castle adjoining the ground.
Jason and his crew drill down into the unopened grave with a camera
probe and they see a mural painting of the Etruscan Demon God,
The God of Death - Tuchulcha.
Two youngsters sneak into the area after closing time
to make out in a tomb .... as every normal teenager would do i suppose,
are clobbered to death with the camera probe pole and with some sort
of ancient etruscan mallet. And the killer then arrange the bodies
laying upon etruscan sarcophagi according to that ancient peoples tradition.
Nikos Samarakis is a famous conductor known for his bad temper and fits
of rage, and he harasses everyone around him, his assistant
Irene (Daniela Surina), his homosexual choreographer Steven (Horst Frank),
his girlfriend Myra and just about anyone. He's rehearsing
for a concert, opera or ballet to be performed at the famous outdoor
arena of Spoleto.
The next victim for the killer is a ballet girl from
the chorus and Jason finds the body. Something connecting the crimes
are that the victims
are wearing red shoes (props taken from the Opera wardrobe) and that
they've been clobbered to death in the same way as on the mural
painting in the grave, and the Police thinks the murderer is interested
in Etruscan art.
The Evil eyes of the Demon God painting is shown before something evil
happens, and from a cassette player (stolen from Jason's crew)
Verdi's Requiem can be heard before a killing takes place, and red herrings
are thrown around in the gialli way.
There are the drunk Professor Jason, his crew, The mean
Maestro, Myra, the real Mrs. Samarakis (german actress Nadja Tiller),
suspicious choreographer, the J&B bottle, the harassed assistant
and there is .... The Etruscan Demon God, Whodunit ?
Could the J&B bottle be the killer this time ? It's always lurking
around somewhere in almost every Gialli ever made. There
scenes that actually were scary, one with Jason in the stable and the
burning picture, and Alex Cord expressed fright nicely here.
The film was a co-production between Italy, Yugoslavia
and West Germany, and with a mix of actors from these countries plus
other, as americans (Alex Cord, John Marley and (British?) Samantha
Eggar). The sleazy usher or guard is played by Yugoslavian actor
(Vladen Holec), Steven and Mrs. Samarakis are played by German actors
Horts Frank and Nadja Tiller. Christina von Blanc provides the
only nudity in the film and i don't know from where she comes, Italy
or Spain perhaps ?
As usual when West Germany was involved with the production of a Giallo,
they released it in Germany with a title connecting it to the
German long ongoing Krimi film series and to writers
Edgar and his son Bryan Edgar Wallace, and the title means The Secret
of the Yellow
Graves or something like that, probably the title of a novel or a story
they wrote, or something resembling that.
Some other examples of West German's "Krimi-ing" gialli films
are The Bird with the Crystal Plumage as "Das Geheimnis
Handschuhe" and Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso (Seven
Blood Stained Orchids) as "Das rätsel des silbernen halbmonds".
I repeat, this film is a sadly forgotten and obscure Giallo by Crispino
who gives us a stylish and fascinating Whodunit mystery with
extra atmosphere being filmed at the burial grounds of the ancient etruscans.
There's a cool little car-chase through the old city of ....
Spoleto (?) and the scene shot in the crypt was quite impressive with
the sarcophagi turning to dust. Also, the short cuts of the evil eyes
of Tuchulcha, the Demon God, and the playing of Verdi's Requiem before
the murders underscored the terror of the scene.
The film on this Bluray is presented in widescreen
2.35:1, with an english DD 2.0 audio, region B. Extras:
Short documentary "Linee D'Ombra (Schattenlinjen) von Francesco
Crispino (the son of Armando) 2006 (in italian with german subtitles,
11 minutes, and abrupt ending), Interview with director Armando Crispino
by his son Francisco from 1997 (in italian with german subs,
7 minutes), Interview with cameraman Erico Menczer by Francisco Crispino
2006 (italian with german subs, 7 minutes), Interview with
storywriter Lucio Battistrada by Francisco Crispino 2004 (in italian
with german subs, 10 minutes), Interview with actor Carlo De Mejo
(playing the son of Niko in the film) 2009 (in italian with german subs),
Interview with Francisco Crispino in 2020 (in italian with german subs,
47 minutes) and he tells us that his father had his own style of
making gialli movies, not inspired by the Dario Argento trendsetting
style with black gloves, black clothing and animal titles etc.,
German intro credits, Italian intro credits, German and English Trailer,