Originally devised by Mario Bava and Tudor Gates, Nude... Si Muore (in English, Naked You Die) started life as Cry Nightmare. Bava didn't see eye to eye with the producers and so he was yanked from the production and the reins were handed over to Antonio Margheriti (who directed the film under the alias of Anthony Dawson). The script was re-written, and Bava's name was removed from the picture and the film found American distribution through drive-in specialists American International Pictures who chopped fifteen minutes out of the movie so that it could fit on a double bill, re-titled The Young, The Evil And The Savage. The film was also known under the alternate titles Schoolgirl Killer and The Mini Skirt Murders to play up on the primary location and to exploit the titillating possibilities inherent in a murder mystery set in an all girls school. Dark Sky's welcome DVD release presents the in its original ninety-eight minute running time, the AIP cut ran roughly eight-two minutes in length.
The film is based around a string of murders begins at an all girls school. After a few girls are killed off, Inspector Durand (Michael Rennie) is called in to investigate. He carries out his investigation while at the same time one of the students, Jill (Sally Smith), is also trying to figure out who the killer is and why he or she is doing this in the first place. That's really all that there is to it.
The film sets up a few different characters as potential suspects. The riding instructor, Richard Barrett (Mark Damon), is quite popular with the female students and has ties to some of the victims. The swimming instructor, Di Brazzi (Giovanni Di Benedetto) could also be the culprit, as could the creepy guy who periodically spies on the girls, La Floret (Luciano Pigozzi). Durand will have to put a few clues together before he can prove who did it though, and that's not going to be easy.
Naked You Die is not a particularly great film – in fact, it's fairly pedestrian and not particularly compelling. Rennie sort of walks through the picture without much enthusiasm and the rest of the cast are rarely more inspired than he. The story meanders and the recurring comedic bits aren't particularly funny nor do they add much to the plot, instead they stand out as inappropriate and awkward. The movie definitely builds to a decent ending and there is some suspense to be found in the last half hour of the picture, but getting there doesn't exactly keep you on the edge of your seat.
That being said, Naked You Die is far from a write-off and fans of giallos will find enough that works about the movie to want to give it a look. The opening murder, which is quite reminiscent of a famous kill scene from Bava's earlier giallo, Blood And Black Lace, is stylish and eerie as a black gloved killer strangles a woman in her bathtub then dunks her head under water until she can breath no more. The location shooting at the school gives the movie an interesting setting the film makes the most of this by accentuating some of the more unusual aspects of the academy such as the insect house and Dario Argento might have had this idea in mind while writing Suspiria. While the film isn't as colorful or quirky as many giallos that came afterwards it is a good-looking picture with some nice color work and some interesting compositions on display. Those looking for the sex and violence that the giallo is so often associated with will no doubt walk away from this one with some disappointment as the movie is very light on sex or gore, but this is never the less a very attractive film with a couple of effective set pieces that make it worth a look for seasoned fans of the genre, such as the kill scenes in the basement and the shower. A few of the subplots feel unnecessary and at times they almost feel like padding but the film remains marginally entertaining in spite of this.
Naked You Die is presented in a fantastic 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that is properly flagged for progressive scan equipment and which presents the film in its original aspect ratio. Compared to the PAL release from Germany's X-Rated (which was 2.35.1 but sadly not anamorphic), the Dark Sky release comes up the winner in pretty much every way possible. Color reproduction is excellent and blacks stay strong and deep throughout. You'll notice only minor print damage in the form of some specks on the picture (noticeable more during the opening credits sequence than anywhere else) but aside from that the transfer is very clean. Detail levels are strong in both the foreground and the background of the picture while flesh tones look lifelike and natural from start to finish.
Audio is supplied in the form of a decent Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track with optional subtitles available in English language only. The track is clean and free of any hiss or distortion. Dialogue is clear and the score sounds quite nice. Levels are properly balanced and the various sound effects and musical cues don't bury the performers at all. A few scenes sound a little on the flat side, but for an older, low budget giallo things sound quite good.
Sadly, the Dark Sky Films domestic DVD debut of the film comes with few extras. A lengthy Italian language trailer is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen with optional English subtitles, but aside from that, they only other extra feature is a still gallery made up of various international one sheets and lobby cards. Menus and chapter selection options are also provided. Inside the keepcase is a booklet containing Dark Sky's 2006 catalogue and the clear keepcase reveals some alternate artwork on the reverse side of the cover. It would have been nice to see the The Young, The Evil And The Savage alternate cut of the film with its English language dub included, but it's probably safe to assume that rights issues are what prevented that from happening here.
Naked You Die is far from the cream of the giallo crop, but it's a reasonably well-made film with an interesting ending and some nice camerawork. The cast is rather mundane but at least the movie looks nice and the film does have some importance as an early entry in the subgenre. Dark Sky's DVD looks great and sounds good and while more extras would have certainly been very welcome, fans of the genre can consider this one marginally recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.