The Killer Must Kill Again
Italy - France / 1975
Directed by Luigi Cozzi
George Hilton
"Michel Antoine" (Antoine St. John)
Cristina Galbo
Color / 90 Minutes / Not Rated
Format: DVD / R1 - NTSC
Mondo Macabro
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Review by
Brian Lindsey
    9   10 = Highest Rating  
SNEAK PREVIEW | DVD Release Date: Jan. 25, 2005
Italian writer/director Luigi Cozzi, best known for some rather terrible science fiction-fantasy flicks of the 1970s and '80s, really surprised me with The Killer Must Kill Again, a decidedly offbeat giallo thriller that clearly demonstrates the man possessed genuine talent. Shot in 1973 and released two years later, the film was Cozzi's very first theatrical feature and by all accounts represents his finest work. (It was all downhill from there, apparently.)
    Handsome, philandering Mr. Mainardi (giallo veteran George Hilton) doesn't appreciate it that wife Nora (Teresa Velázquez) objects to his womanizing and constant raiding of their bank account. The daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Nora controls the couple's finances and threatens to cut hubby off if he doesn't straighten up. After a heated argument he splits their luxury flat to make a phone call to one of his mistresses. Stopping at a phone booth, by pure chance he happens to witness a strange-looking man dumping a woman's corpse into a canal. Instead of calling the police to report what he's seen, Mainardi makes a snap decision to seize the moment
this could be the answer to all his domestic problems. He boldly approaches the murderer with an offer he can't refuse: bump off Nora and the cops won't be told about the body in the canal. Sweetening the deal, Mainardi promises $20,000 in cash when the job is done. With little alternative, the mysterious skull-faced killer agrees.
    The dirty deed is to be made to look like a kidnapping, going down when Mainardi has a rock-solid alibi. In the meantime he returns home to play the contrite spouse, telling Nora how sorry he is for all the pain he's caused. On a prearranged night when Mainardi is away at a party with friends and his wife is home alone, the killer arrives at their apartment, announcing he's a business associate of her husband's who was told to meet him there. The foolishly trusting Nora lets him in only to be strangled for her hospitality. Skull Face puts the body in the trunk of his Mercedes then briefly re-enters the apartment to clean up any remaining evidence... but when he returns to the street, he's shocked to discover that his car is gone. The fickle finger of Fate has intervened once more. Two college-age kids (Alessio Orano, Cristina Galbo) have stolen the vehicle on a lark, on their way to a romantic getaway on the coast without a clue that a corpse lies in the trunk. Reacting quickly, the killer himself steals a car and sets off in hot pursuit. At all costs he must retrieve Nora's body and cover his tracks. If need be, the killer must kill again....
    The unseen murderer so common to the giallo is completely dispensed with in this film. There's no mystery to anyone's identity or motive; we know from the get-go who is responsible for the crimes and why. Instead Cozzi (1980's Contamination) focuses exclusively on building suspense from our anticipation of what is to come and then repeatedly twisting these expectations with results we don't foresee. It's a relatively fresh approach to the genre which the director handles with assurance and a good deal of panache. Shots of the killer pursuing the blissfully ignorant car thieves are juxtaposed with Mainardi's dealings with the police, as the scheming husband can't be sure that the cops, in the form of a wily, sardonic inspector (Django's Eduardo Fajardo), aren't somehow already onto him. Stylish editing results in some potent, memorable scenes, most notably when the film cuts between an act of consensual sex and a brutal, harrowing (though not explicit) rape. Accentuating the tension is a solid score by composer Nando De Luca, which fits the film (and the genre) like a snug black glove.
    Among a cast of familiar Euro-Cult performers the real standouts here are beautiful Cristina Galbo (What Have You Done To Solange?) and sinister Antoine St. John (Duck, You Sucker, The Wind and the Lion). As Laura, the innocent teen whose willingness to go along with her boyfriend lands her in a world of trouble, Galbo delivers an exceptionally strong and believable performance, especially when her character finds herself trapped at the killer's mercy. As for our titular murderer, French actor St. John (billed as "Michele Antoine") is perfectly cast. In the DVD's audio commentary (see below) Cozzi bluntly states that "his face makes the movie." Since the killer's identity is known from the beginning, his creepy, almost feline physicality
an odd cross of Reggie Nalder and James Coburn goes a long way to establish the proper mood.

Mondo Macabro's upcoming Region 1 DVD edition of The Killer Must Kill Again really rolls out the red carpet for the film, which has until now never been available on North American home video. Visual quality of the anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen transfer is excellent with nary an instance of print damage to be seen. (Nor is there any grain or artifacting to mar the many night scenes.) Two mono audio mixes are provided: the dubbed English version and the original Italian with optional English subtitles. The Italian track is recommended, as it's the stronger of the two (with a better script), but both are occasionally plagued by a bit of crackly static. While it's not enough to detract from the experience this minor audio problem is the disc's only flaw.
The DVD is really packed with extras. You get the original theatrical trailer (under one of the film's many aliases, The Dark Is Death's Friend), still galleries, talent bios, liner notes, an alternate titles sequence, a trio of featurettes and an audio commentary. One of the featurettes, The Giallo Genre (17 minutes), is a slightly altered version of the one included with Mondo Macabro's R2 release of Death Walks at Midnight. Though featuring only clips from that particular film, it's a good primer for those unfamiliar with gialli and their unique sets of quirks. The other two featurettes are interview pieces with Luigi Cozzi, who speaks good English throughout. The Road To The Killer (21 min.) chronicles the start of his film career, while Initials D.A. (15 min.) sees Cozzi recalling his early collaborations with the master of the giallo, Dario Argento. Cozzi covers some of the same ground in the enjoyable and informative audio commentary (moderated by Pete Tombs), but sticks mainly to the filming of The Killer Must Kill Again. 12/28/04