Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 DAYS OF HORROR: YOU WILL DIE AT MIDNIGHT

Oct. 29

YOU WILL DIE AT MIDNIGHT (1986)
Morirai a mezzanotte
"You Will Die at Midnight"
aka Midnight Horror, Midnight Killer, Midnight Ripper
Italian Version with English subtitles. 1.66:1. 88 mins.
By John Charles

First Viewing

Undersexed police officer Nicola (Leonardo Treviglio) and his hot to trot wife Sarah launch into one of their regular arguments after he catches her cheating on him. However, more than words are exchanged: she stabs him with an ice pick and he tries to drown her in the kitchen sink. After the injured Nicola leaves their apartment, Sarah is murdered with the ice pick by an unseen killer. While Nicola evades his colleagues, the killings continue and criminal psychologist Anna (Valeria D'Obici) and the investigating officer (Paolo Malco) must contend with evidence suggesting the additional involvement of a psychopath alleged to have died in a fire years before.

One of the TV-movies Lamberto Bava did for Reteitalia, the multi-titled YOU WILL DIE AT MIDNIGHT is for the majority of its running time, a perfectly serviceable giallo which makes one wonder if he used his "John Old, Jr." pseudonym at the network's insistence. Bava offers up a number of homages, including a stylish shower murder sequence, a kinky variation on the suffocation murder in TENEBRAE, and one character reading a novelization of BLOOD SIMPLE with a very giallo-esque cover (which incorporates part of a distinctive Barbara Steele painting). Claudio Simonetti delivers an effective score, there is a reasonable amount of suspense during the various stalking scenes, and a beach-front hotel is effectively utilitilized as the primary setting for the final third. The film does stumble when it comes to the reveal of the killer's identity. Outlandish wrap-ups are nothing new in gialli, but we have not been given sufficient build-up to accept the rather gigantic stretch the plot takes here. While not as graphic as some films in the vein, there is still more blood and implied nastiness here than would ever been seen in American TV-movies, even 25 years later.

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