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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Suspicious Death of a Minor (Blu-ray)
The Suspicious Death of a Minor (Blu-ray)
Arrow Video // Unrated // October 3, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted October 8, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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An okay Italian thriller, The Suspicious Death of a Minor also known as Too Young to Die (Morte sospetta di una minorenne, 1975), is billed as a giallo, the singularly Italian crime- and sometimes horror-thriller adapted from the lurid, yellow cover paperbacks popular there, but whose roots date back to even further, to the influential English-language thrillers Psycho and Peeping Tom (both 1960). Initially ignored by American critics and barely released in America when they were new, since the earliest days of the DVD revolution the genre has been reassessed and the best giallo are today rightly celebrated as great movies.

However, The Suspicious Death of a Minor, credited as the sixth and final giallo from director Sergio Martino, doesn't much feel like a classical giallo much at all. Rather, it's more a routine poliziotteschi, the Italian police procedural, which as here comments on the role of political and corruption prevalent in Italy at the time. Further, and quite bizarrely, there are also Terence Hill-like moments of slapstick-style humor. In one chase scene, for instance, a speeding car clips a bicyclist, instantly turning the bike into a unicycle.

Nonetheless, Martino's direction is very good, especially considering how inexpensive and quickly made the picture probably was, and the film imaginatively uses several very interesting locations.

As its title suggests, the story concerns the murder of an underage prostitute, and an undercover cop's investigation of the trafficking of such girls. This initially is a bit confusing for audiences today, because where modern TV shows like Law & Order: SVU would cast 20-year-olds who look 16, in The Suspicious Death of a Minor none of the supposedly underage hookers look the part. Most appear to be well into their 20s and aren't remotely believable as high school-age girls.

Set in Milano, the movie opens well, with supposedly underage Marisa (Patrizia Castaldi) stalked by a mysterious stranger. Alarmed, she flirts with a horny, wildly conceited man (Claudio Cassinelli) at an outdoor dance hall, then flees, but is brutally murdered, her throat slashed, in her room at the local hotel-brothel.

A pair of bumbling detectives is introduced, but soon the narrative cuts back to the stranger who had tried to pick up Marisa. He turns out to be Paolo Germi, an undercover cop investigating the prostitution ring. He joins forces with Giannino (Adolfo Caruso), an agreeable petty thief with a scooter, and whose family welcomes Paolo into their home. With Giannino unofficially deputized, Paolo looks into a nanny agency, obviously a front for a much bigger organization trafficking cocaine as well as young prostitutes. Meanwhile, the killer begins targeting witnesses, and in one well-executed scene murders the fat, chain-smoking concierge of the hotel-brothel, she fresh out of the bathtub.

The most striking quality of The Suspicious Death of a Minor is its use of interesting locations. One long sequence takes place at a Milano amusement park, including a shootout-chase that begins on a modest rollercoaster there. Another sequence is set at an unusual movie theater, Paolo chasing the killer to the building's rooftop, where the killer activates the cinema's retractable roof, apparently designed to accommodate nighttime summer screenings in the days before air conditioning. The climax takes place aboard a car-carrying train as is passes through a long tunnel on the Italian-Swiss border.

American actor Mel Ferrer, very active in Italian productions dating back to the 1950s, is second-billed, but has only a small supporting role as a police superintendent. Rather, the movie belongs entirely to Claudio Cassinelli, a handsome, apparently serious actor trapped in the steady decline of Italian genre films as he got older. It was on the Page, Arizona set of another Sergio Martino film, Hands of Steel (1986), a lurid Terminator rip-off, that Cassinelli was killed, when the helicopter he was aboard crashed into the Navajo Bridge.

Video & Audio

Filmed in two-perf Techniscope, Arrow Video's The Suspicious Death of a Minor sources the original camera negative in 2K and fully restored. The image looks pristine, flawless, with impressive detail and contrast. The lossless English and Italian language versions (with optional English subtitles) were sourced from optical soundtrack negatives. The Blu-ray is Region A encoded, while an accompanying DVD version is Region 1 with Dolby Digital mono audio.

Extra Features

Supplements include an audio commentary by Troy Howarth, the author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, and a long (about 45 minutes), new interview with director Sergio Martino. There's a booklet essay by Barry Forshaw and the cover art is reversible, with original Italian ad art on one side, and newly commissioned art by Chris Malbon on the other.

Parting Thoughts

Entertaining but not exceptional, if perfectly presented and packaged by Arrow Video, The Suspicious Death of a Minor is Recommended.







Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian largely absent from reviewing these days while he restores a 200-year-old Japanese farmhouse.

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