DVD Release Date: April
= Highest Rating
shiny, happy giallo? Well... yeah. Sort of.
Compared to the darker, sleazier, and certainly
more violent gialli unleashed by the likes of Fulci and Argento
just a few years later, 1968's Naked You
plays like a bright 'n' breezy romp it never takes itself
too seriously. Mario Bava's The Girl Who
Knew Too Much (1963), considered the first true giallo,
contained elements of humor but was first and foremost a murder
mystery; his follow-up, Blood and Black
Lace ('64), established the template for the sadistic
mayhem and sexual fetishism with which the genre is most identified.
With Naked You Die, director Antonio
of Blood, Cannibal
Apocalypse) chooses to wink at the audience with tongue
planted firmly in cheek. Doubtless a lot of giallo fans won't
go for this lighthearted approach... To be honest, I wasn't
expecting to, either. Yet the film surprised me. It's fun.
Margheriti starts things off with a classic
staple of the genre, the 'Bathtub Kill.' A woman, alone in her
Paris apartment, is taking a bath when she's attacked, strangled
and drowned by a methodical black-gloved killer (whose face
naturally isn't shown). The murderer puts the victim's nude
body into a steamer trunk, which is then shipped to an exclusive
private school for girls in southern France. It's near the end
of the summer break at the St. Hilda Academy, with only six
students in residence there. A handful of teachers arrive
along with the trunk by car. None of the girls claim the trunk
so the school's servants store it in the garage, where it's
the day is out one of the students goes missing. Another of
the girls, perky, hyper-imaginative Jill (Sally Smith), fancies
herself a mystery novelist and starts conducting her own amateur
investigation. But her peers, as well as the faculty members,
aren't that terribly alarmed, even after a search turns up nothing.
It's assumed that the missing girl ran off with her boyfriend
or some such, so the police aren't summoned. They soon will
be, however. The very next night a student is found strangled
to death in the shower. Inspector Durand (Michael Rennie of
The Day the Earth Stood Still
and Battle of
El Alamein) is called in, bringing with him a squad of uniformed
cops. While his men comb the school buildings and grounds, Durand
sets up shop in the office of the headmistress and begins his
investigation, questioning the students, faculty and staff,
who aren't permitted to leave the premises. Before long the
inspector realizes he's hunting an incredibly bold murderer.
Regardless of risk, it seems, this killer MUST kill again
even with the gendarmes alert and on guard! The
gardener is discovered stabbed to death, a sickle buried in
his chest, while another of the girls is almost drowned in the
swimming pool by an attacker clad in a wetsuit and facemask...
And what's up with
that body in the trunk?
Margheriti was no
auteur, but he was definitely a pro. Naked
You Die looks great, featuring a stylish
if not especially flashy
use of colors and compositions that take advantage of the wide
2.35:1 canvas. The pic's 'James Bond meets Batman TV
series' theme song ("Night-MARE!") is a goofy
gas. And if slick editing/precise camera positioning render
the blink-and-you'll miss-it nudity tame rather than tawdry,
and there's no gore whatsoever (this is the '60s we're
talking about), at least the central mystery is an interesting
one. It's outlandish without being preposterous, picking up
considerable steam in the third act. The cast is good, too.
Rennie, who at first seems a bit stiff (as if embarrassed to
be appearing in an Italian potboiler), eventually loosens up
and gets with the program. Luciano Pigozzi, AKA "Alan Collins"
essays yet another 'creepy servant' role (just how many of these
characters did he play?); he gets rather comically hot 'n' bothered
while peeping into the girls' bathroom. Much of the story revolves
around a romance between the school's studly riding instructor
(House of Usher's
Mark Damon) and a 17-year old heiress (Eleonora Brown), but
it's Sally Smith, as busybody/amateur sleuth Jill, who effortlessly
steals the movie from everybody else. She has a flair for comic
timing (evident even with her voice dubbed into Italian) and
is as cute as a button with her big blue eyes and short pixie
'do. The Scooby Doo antics of Smith's character and her bubbly
performance give the film much of its lighthearted buoyancy.
(I mean, how can you not like Jill... She reads Marvel
Naked You Die is nonetheless capably
mounted, attractively cast and, most importantly, entertaining.
Nude... Si Muore
in Italian. The film has had at least three alternate English-language
titles: School Girl Killer, The
Miniskirt Murders and The Young,
the Evil & the Savage.
makes its North American home video debut thanks to the folks
at Dark Sky Films. The anamorphic widescreen transfer looks terrific;
a teeny smidgen of print damage here and there never really detracts
from the pleasing visuals.
Italian language 2.0 Digital Mono
is disappointingly flat-sounding but otherwise serviceable enough.
The easy-to-read English subtitles are excellent.
For extras the disc
offers the Italian theatrical trailer (subtitled, in surprisingly
fine shape) and an image gallery of international lobby cards.
'Tis a pity that the English-dubbed American version, The
Young, the Evil and the Savage (distributed by AIP), was,
for whatever reason, unavailable. I'm sure it's inferior to the
Italian edit (since it runs some 15 minutes shorter), but it would've
been nice to hear Rennie, Damon and especially Smith in their
own voices. (The cast's English speakers are the worst dubbed.)