Needing titles for the back-end of this edition of April Showers, I decided to knock off another entry from my giallo deck, as Shudder is currently streaming Luciano Ercoli's 1971 film Death Walks on High Heels.
Nicole (Nieves Navarro as Susan Scott), the daughter of a murdered jewel thief gets caught in the middle as his partners try to track down the missing loot.
I have now seen enough of Italian thrillers to recognize there are actually different subsets within the dozens that were made. The most popular were the hyper-stylized efforts drenched in operatic gore by the likes of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci & Sergio Martino, but there were also those that were decidedly low-key and more like straight-up crime mysteries. They still shared a lot of the same traits involving masked killers, wonderful scores and sexual overtones, but overall they were a little more restrained.
Death Walks on High Heels, in addition to titles like Martino's Case of the Scorpion's Tail, Forbidden Photos of a Woman Above Suspicion (also by Ercoli) and Bava's proto-giallo The Girl Who Knew Too Much, are of this latter category. And while it might have not been as flashy as your average giallo, I still enjoyed this quite a bit. It had a nice flow and despite the large number of characters, it only got momentarily confusing when Claudie Lange showed up due to her passing resemblance to Scott. Quirky constables were also a touchstone of the genre and this pair (played by Carlo Gentili & Fabrizio Moresco) were among the best I've seen.
|Susan Scott (left) & Claudie Lange in Death Walks on High Heels.
I really like the setting of this one, as there were smatterings of London and Paris in with usual Italian and Spanish locales. I was chuckling to myself about what Ercoli seemed to find sexy in this movie, whether it be close-ups of Susan Scott (who was no slouch, but not quite as striking as mainstays Edwige Fenech or Barbara Bouchet) endlessly eating bits of fish, or her confounding blackface striptease. That was a thing I guess.
And those are not the only things I will take away from this movie. I mean, that eye surgery scene! Why would an actor agree to do that? It could've been a fake head, but it was pretty convincing. Somehow it seemed worse than the treatment Malcolm McDowell received in A Clockwork Orange. Also, this movie must have a record number of backhands to the face. Nobody punched anybody in the seventies?
What Death Walks On High Heels lacked in gore, it made up for in personality and a thoroughly enjoyable narrative. In the near future, I'll definitely be checking out Shudder's other Ercoli offering, Death Walks At Midnight.