Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
In my experience a little giallo goes a long way, but Mondo Macabro's "lost Giallo classic"
The Killer Must Kill Again is a good show supported by quality extras that close a few
informational gaps in our understanding of the genre. Slasher fans are bound to be attracted by the
excellent quality of what until now was an obscure title viewable only on grey market pan-scan
Americans know Luigi Cozzi mostly from his late 70s science fiction thrillers Starcrash and
Alien Contamination, which are not highly regarded. This earlier murder thriller shows him
to be an eager disciple of Dario Argento. Visually more modest than top titles by Argento and
Alberto Martino, it earns good points for clarity - the characters may
be stock, but they at least do interesting things.
Philandering husband Mainardi (George Hilton) sees "the killer" (Michel Antoine)
dispose of a female corpse, and blackmails him into murdering his wife Nora (Teresa Veláquez).
All goes smoothly until the killer's car is stolen by a pair of joy-riding lovers, Luca
(Alessio Orano) and Laura (Cristina Galbó) - with Nora's dead body in the trunk.
If the genre hadn't waned in popularity The Killer Must Kill Again might have done better
than the minor release it eventually received. Although not particularly original or distinctively
shocking, it shapes up as a good derivative product in the Dario Argento mold. Director Luigi
Cozzi assisted and wrote for Argento but for his first theatrical venture limits himself to a
sub-Hitchcockian plot twist or two. An unusually good cast makes the underwritten characters more than
watchable, even when events fail to build in excitement.
Visually, the picture is a catalogue of genre basics. Slimy hubbie George Hilton sets his wife up
as did Ray Milland in
Dial M for Murder by a chance
encounter with a cool-headed psychopath. He catches him in the act of pushing a Volkswagen off a
pier, with a dead body inside. The car sinks (I guess all those VW ads were wrong) and Hilton
tracks the killer to a nearby ice rink; they make a fast deal while watching a skater perform.
sequences are short and perfunctory and most of the film plays out in nicely shot night exteriors
and flashy designer apartments. Hilton's flat with its glass desks, warm colors and
stylish lighting is particularly attractive.
Hilton mostly stays out of the story while the far more interesting killer tries to retrieve his
stolen car from three strangers. He's actor Michel Antoine, better known as Antoine St-John from
popular pictures such as Sergio Leone's
Giù la testa, John Milius'
The Wind and The Lion and Lucio Fulci's
The Beyond. His gaunt,
exaggerated features make him an excellent mystery killer even though he's given almost nothing in
the way of a personality to work with - he merely follows a logical path until events get out of
his control. Antoine is well-contrasted with his three female victims, each of which project a different
kind of vulnerability. Española Teresa Veláquez is good as the terrified wife, and
Cristina Galbó (of the good zombie picture
No profanar el sueño de
los muertos) is even better as a virginal runaway.
Less convincing is Femi Benussi as a sexy blonde that just happens to catch the eye of Galbó's
boyfriend at the wrong time. The car thief/boyfriend is played by Alessio Orano, another interesting
Eurohorror actor that caught Savant's eye as the perverse chauffeur in Mario Bava's creepy classic
Lisa and the Devil. Orano's devious
looks hint at more twists that never come.
Cozzi cross-cuts between two sex scenes in an attempt to liven things up, but instead derails
the forward momentum of his narrative. While we're bogged down in the usual heavy breathing and
warmly-lit nudity, the story never really builds on its premise and the bloody murders that follow
don't have the impact they might. The predictable ending tries for irony with a little more fancy
On the other hand, the narrative clarity is refreshing in a genre where plots often make little or
no sense. Cozzi places the camera well and his cameraman consistently gives ordinary shots the visual
sheen expected of higher-budget gialli. The film has an attractive surface without going
overboard (as Argento frequently did) and Cozzi's intercutting works rather well in the ice
rink scene. He also adds inoffensive touches like an iris shot "borrowed" from Francois
Killer Must Kill Again works best as an uncomplicated murder tale of the kind one watches just
to see who slays who before the cops close in.
Mondo Macabro's DVD presentation of The Killer Must Kill Again is a beauty. Near-perfect
elements allow the movie to be seen in the original Italian or with an English dub track. If only
every rare genre picture could surface in such good condition ... the transfer is a full 2:35
width and is enhanced for widescreen.
Luigi Cozzi provides an okay commentary, well-prompted by MM's Pete Tombs. He's also interviewed
on his journalistic and filmmaking career at the counter of his fantasy-horror collector's shop. The
informative docu has to make do with a lot of cutaways to the same photos of Cozzi and Argento,
and a lot of pulp sci-fi paperback covers, but stays above-average thanks to Cozzi's engaging
personality. Another general featurette on the giallo genre is offered as well.
Also included is a trailer, an image gallery, behind-the-scenes stills and an extra title sequence
with the film's original name, Il Ragno (The Spider). That name still appears on the film's
difficult-to-read end credits.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
The Killer Must Kill Again rates:
Supplements: film director interview, audio commentary, featurette on Italo gialli, trailer,
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: January 22, 2004
DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson