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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Weekend Murders
The Weekend Murders
Code Red // R // August 11, 2009
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeremy Biltz | posted September 5, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Movie:
The Weekend Murders is an atypical giallo crime thriller from director Michele Lupo. (Giallo is Italian for yellow, and refers to the lurid yellow covers of the trashy crime novels that these films are based on.) While it dispenses with many of the standard elements of giallo, such as copious nudity and sex and significant bloody violence, this film is nevertheless enjoyable, and will please most fans of the genres, as well as providing some light entertainment for the general viewing public.

The story revolves around a wealthy British family, whose patriarch has just died, and left all of his wealth to his loyal niece Barbara (Anna Moffo), while cutting out the rest of the family. The family is large, and it takes a while for the viewer to work out who everyone is amongst the numerous characters we are introduced to in a short period of time. There is controlling Aunt Gladys (Marisa Fabbri) and her sexually deviant son Georgie (Chris Chittell). The daughter of the deceased Isabel (Eveline Stewart) and her talented but penniless poet husband Anthony (Peter Baldwin) are a contrast to cousin Ted (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) and his wife Pauline (Beryl Cunningham). Ted delights in shocking the uptight group, who in their stuffy British way (as interpreted by Italians) object to a member of the family marrying a black woman, when they aren't lusting after her exotic sexuality. (Giallo films often portray black women as decadent, exotic and hyper-sexual, which would be more troubling if it were not so ridiculously and ineptly done, as is the case here. That is, however, a subject for deeper study not within the purview of this review.)

The cast is rounded out by a few more minor relatives, servants and the two policemen who investigate the titular murders. Sgt. Thorpe (Gastone Moschin) is the local constable, who presents as rather goofy, but turns out to be a much superior detective to his superior, Inspector Grey (Lance Percival) sent down from Scotland Yard. Thorpe and Grey provide the greatest departure from standard giallo tropes in their broadly humorous attempts to solve the murders. These two, in a derivation on the familiar buddy formula, provide a lot of genuine laughs as they bumble around, spy on the family, tie string across doors with chewing gum, ride down dumb waiters, and generally act like fools. Indeed, Sgt. Thorpe, the humble genius of the two, is the most likeable and genuine character in the film, and the viewer is impressed and pleased when he solves the case in the film's climax.

The Weekend Murders would probably be a good introduction to giallo for general viewers. The tone is light, the murders (though numerous) are not horrendously bloody, the misogynist attitude toward women is kept at a minimum (with the notable exception of Pauline), there are a number of likeable characters and there is abundant humor. None of these things are typical in most giallo, and so might reduce enjoyment for committed fans of the genre, but also serve to make the film more accessible for regular folks. These kinds of films are not generally of high quality, and this is no exception. It was filmed on location in England , and so looks pretty good as far as that goes, but it is essentially an exploitive, low budget murder thriller. The actors are talented, but not asked to do much. The story is not overly inventive. The characters are not very developed. But, it's fun, and that counts for a lot. The Weekend Murders is good for ninety minutes of undemanding adult fun, but is mostly recommended for devotees of giallo.

The DVD

Video:
The video is presented in widescreen 2.35:1, and looks good excepting the persistent, but usually not too annoying, scratches and dirt on the print. The image is clear and bright, though a tiny bit grainy. The action is always clear, and overall things look quite good for an early seventies low budget Italian film.

Sound:
The sound is Dolby digital 2 channel, and is free of hiss or other interference. The dialogue is clear and audible throughout. Otherwise, the sound is unremarkable. There are no subtitles or alternate language tracks.

Extras:
The extras are not extensive, but quite enjoyable. They are:

Interview with Peter Baldwin
Clocking in at just under twenty minutes, this interview with Peter Baldwin, who plays Anthony in The Weekend Murders and was a prolific actor and television director, is quite interesting, mostly because Mr. Baldwin is very engaging person with a number of great stories about his life in Hollywood and Italian cinema. Very nice.

Still Photo Gallery
A two minute series of production stills from the film. Nothing exciting.

Original Theatrical Trailer
This impressionist, psychedelic trailer is actually interesting.

Sneak Previews
This is a quite fun series of trailers for low budget, mostly trashy films from the seventies and early eighties. There are trailers for: Brute Corps, Cheerleaders Wild Weekend, Doctor Death, The Statue, Devil's Express, Trapped and Night Warning.

Commentary Track
The commentary track is done by Peter Baldwin, writer, producer and actor (though not in this film) Scott Spiegel and Lee Christian. This is the most substantial extra included, and also the most interesting. Again, this is mostly because of what an engaging character Peter Baldwin is. His stories, not always about The Weekend Murders, are entertaining quite apart from any enjoyment of the film itself. Mr. Baldwin has appeared in Stalag 17 and The Ten Commandments in a small part, and once lost a five dollar bet to Cecil B. DeMille. He worked with Fellini and Billy Wilder, but also appeared in I Married a Monster from Outer Space and directed episodes of The Brady Bunch and The Wonder Years. This is an enjoyable piece of extra material and greatly adds to the experience of the film.

Final Thoughts:
The Weekend Murders is a fun movie. It doesn't aim very high, and strays somewhat outside the parameters of the standard giallo film, but it combines good production values with competent performances, broad humor and violent murder to deliver ninety minutes of light entertainment. Because this film lacks the over the top blood and nudity of most gialli, it might be slightly less enjoyable to lovers of the genre, but on the other hand appeals to a slightly broader audience as well. If the viewer can forgive corny, contextually inappropriate music, over use of the smash zoom, and multiple murder, then this is a film that expects little and delivers the goods well enough.

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