Saturday, August 14, 2021

Forgotten Gialli: Volume One (The Killer is One of 13/The Police Are Blundering in the Dark/Trauma) – Vinegar Syndrome (BluRay)

Theatrical Release Dates: Spain, 1973 (The Killer is One of 13), Italy, 1975 (The Police Are Blundering in the Dark), Spain, 1978 (Trauma)
Directors: Javier Aguirre (The Killer is One of 13), Helia Colombo (The Police Are Blundering in the Dark), León Klimovsky (Trauma)
Cast: Patty Shepard, Simón Andreu, José María Prada, Trini Alonso, Dyanik Zurakowska, Jack Taylor, Paloma Cela, May Heatherly, Carmen Maura, Eusebio Poncela, Eduardo Calvo, Paul Naschy, Ramiro Oliveros (The Killer is One of 13), Joseph Arkim, Gabriella Giorgelli, Elena Veronese, Halina Zalewska, Margaret Rose Keil (The Police Are Blundering in the Dark), Ágata Lys, Heinrich Starhemberg, Ricardo Merino, Isabel Pisano, Antonio Mayans, Sandra Alberti, Irene Foster (Trauma)

Release Date: January 28th, 2020
Approximate running times: 95 Minutes 13 Seconds (The Killer is One of 13), 86 Minutes 59 Seconds (The Police Are Blundering in the Dark), 86 Minutes 57 Seconds (Trauma)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (All Films)
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Spanish (The Killer is One of 13,Trauma), DTS-HD Mono Italian (The Police Are Blundering in the Dark)
Subtitles: English (All Films)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $79.98

The Killer is One of 13 "A recent widow has invited a group of family friends to her large and secluded country home. However, what the guests don't know, is that the reason they've been assembled is because their host suspects one of them might be her husband's killer and she's intent on uncovering the identity of his murderer. As the guests begin to suspect each other, revealing long kept and sinister secrets in the process, an unknown, black-gloved killer begins bumping them off in a variety of nasty ways." - synopsis provided by the distributor

The Police Are Blundering in the Dark "A young nude-model is violently stabbed to death with a pair of scissors. It soon emerges that three other women have already fallen prey to this unknown maniac, and that all three victims have a single and unique connection: they all served as models for an eccentric photographer named Parisi. When another young woman with a date to be photographed is murdered, her journalist boyfriend decides to investigate the crimes and quickly finds himself mixed up with Parisi, who reveals that he's working on a camera capable of photographing people's thoughts!" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Trauma "Daniel, a writer seeking seclusion to work on his new book, finds himself stranded at a rural bed and breakfast run by a strange and prudish young woman and her ailing, wheelchair-bound husband who remains shut in his room all day. However, as night falls, a psychotic, razor-wielding killer begins stalking the bed and breakfast, brutally slashing the throats of its most sex-crazed guests, whose bodies and luggage then mysteriously disappear the following morning..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information given about the transfers, “Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm original negative”.

The Killer is One of 13 comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 24.7 GB

Feature: 23.8 GB

The Police Are Blundering in the Dark comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 24.1 GB

Feature: 23 GB

Trauma comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 24.1 GB

Feature: 23.1 GB

The sources for all three films are in very good shape, Vinegar Syndrome has delivered three solid restorations and any source related damage that remains is minimal. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look correct, contrast, black levels and image clarity look solid throughout, grain remains intact and there are no issues with compression.

Audio: 4/5

Each film comes with one audio option, The Killer is One of 13 and Trauma come with DTS-HD mono tracks in Spanish and The Police Are Blundering in the Dark comes with a DTS-HD mono track in Italian. All three audio mixes are in great shape, dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for each film.

Extras:

Extras for The Killer is One of 13 include a promotional image gallery and a historical commentary with author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine Kat Ellinger.

Extras for The Police Are Blundering in the Dark include a promotional image gallery and a historical audio essay with film historian/film critic Rachael Nisbet.

Extras for Trauma include a promotional image gallery and a historical audio commentary track with European cult cinema author Troy Howarth.

Summary:

The Killer is One of 13: Though there’s no acknowledgement of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians in The Killer is One of 13’s credits. There’s no denying that The Killer is One of 13’s premise bears a striking resemblance to Ten Little Indians, which has been the source for many films. Most notably examples include films like, Five Dolls for an August Moon and Nine Guests for a Crime.

That said, though Spanish and Italian thrillers have a lot of crossover in regards to content. In the early 1970’s when it came to on-screen depiction of violence and nudity, Spanish and Italian thrillers were polar opposites. With Spanish thrillers taking a more restrained approach due to censorship.

The Killer is One of 13 takes a well proven premise, confine a group of people in one place and through a series of events try to discover who the killer is? Though this scenario that’s been done countless times, ultimately it’s a premise that’s full of possibilities. And nowhere is this clearer, then the many variables that this premise offers.

Structurally, The Killer is One of 13 is a methodically paced narrative that spends most of its first sixty-minutes revolving around dialog exchange between it’s characters. With a lengthy dinner sequence where the hostess explains why everyone is there and she provides motives for each guest.

It’s not until the last thirty-minutes when the bodies start to pile up. When it comes to carnage, though there’s blood, the kills are quick and they lack the visual flair that’s become synonymous with their Italian counterparts. Also, when it comes to sexy moments they never go beyond PG.

Performance wise the cast are all excellent in their respective roles. With The Killer is One of 13’s standout performance being Eusebio Poncela (The Cannibal Man, Law of Desire) in the role of Francis, the hostesses perverse nephew who has a voyeurism fetish and a strange attachment to his mother.

Other notable cast members include, Jack Taylor (Succubus, Female Vampire) in the role of Harlan, an art forger, Patty Shepard (Crypt of the Living Dead, Edge of the Axe) in the role of Lisa Mandel, the hostess, Simón Andreu (The Blood Spattered Bride, Death Walks at Midnight) in the role of Harry Stephen, a suave playboy and Paul Naschy (Curse of the Devil, Werewolf Shadow) in the role of Henry, the chauffeur.

From a production standpoint, the premise is well-executed and though some may-be turned off the slow-moving narrative, this is quickly remedied by a superb third act that’s accentuated by a very satisfying conclusion. Other strengths include, a solid score that does a great job reinforcing the mood and though most of The Killer is One of 13 are scenes of characters talking to each other, the visuals actually create a lot of tension.

The Police Are Blundering in the Dark: Italian genre cinema was prolific throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. During these decades a genre would spring forth from a successful film, which then would lead to another film that mimicked the first film and this would be repeated over and over. This over-saturation would lead to many films literally being released for a week and then forgotten. The Police Are Blundering in the Dark is a film that falls into this category.

Though there are many elements that have become synonymous with giallo cinema. No element stands out more than the outlandish titles that were given to these films. Case in point, a title like Police Are Blundering in the Dark. Reportedly, The Police Are Blundering in the Dark’s working title was Il giardino delle lattughe which roughly translates into The lettuce garden.

Content wise, The Police Are Blundering in the Dark has all the elements that have become synonymous with giallo cinema. An outrageous premise, an ample amount of carnage and sleaze and a WTF ending that somehow ties everything together.

That said, though The Police Are Blundering in the Dark has all the giallo genres core elements. The result is a film that tries to slightly set itself apart from its contemporaries by throwing a bit of science fiction into the mix. One of the character’s has developed a machine that allows them to photograph thoughts.

The performances are best described as adequate. With The Police Are Blundering in the Dark’s most memorable performance being Gabriella Giorgelli (The Grim Reaper, Seven Blood-Stained Orchids) in the role of a nympho maid named Lucia. Unfortunately, there’s not much information available about the cast. Thus making it hard to find information about what actors portrayed what character. That said another performance of note is the actor who portrays Edmundo, a wheelchair bound photographer whose specialty is nude photography.

From a production standpoint, though the narrative is not without flaws, the narrative does a good job balancing dramatic moments and kills scenes. Ultimately, The Police Are Blundering in the Dark is a competent enough film that most hardcore giallo cinema fans are sure to enjoy.

Trauma: Though Spanish horror/thriller cinema of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s had long-established the process of shooting scenes two ways, a more restrained version for Spanish audiences and a more salacious version for International audiences. This was no longer required by the latter-half of the 1970’s, when Spain’s relaxation of censorship led to anything goes when it came to content.

Case in point a film like Trauma, that takes full advantage of Spanish cinema’s new found freedom at that time. Content wise, though Trauma has many of the elements that have become synonymous with giallo cinema. One must not overlook Alfred Hitchcock’s influence throughout Trauma. Most notably when it comes to Trauma’s premise.

That said, without divulging too much about Trauma’s main twist. The opening moments of Trauma foreshadow the answer to the finale’s big-reveal. Though the narrative is well constructed, the first twenty-nine minutes consist of characters talking and acting goofy.

Fortunately, things pick up considerably after the first kill. When it comes to the kill scenes, they’re sufficiently and they feature all the clichés that one has come to expect from giallo cinema. Also, there’s an ample amount of topless women.

The performances are best described as adequate. With Trauma’s most memorable performance being Ágata Lys (Three Supermen of the West, El transexual) in the role of Veronica, a woman who runs a bed and breakfast. Sher delivers an utterly convincing performance that perfectly captures her character’s state of mind. Trauma’s most notable cast member is Antonio Mayans (Night of Open Sex, Cries of Pleasure) in the role of a hitchhiker who stays at the bed and breakfast with his girlfriend.

From a production standpoint, the premise is superbly realized and the narrative is a satisfying mix of melodrama, sleaze and carnage. Though Trauma features a solid opening theme, the rest of the score is hit and miss, that’s best described as a cross between Fabio Frizzi and Bernard Herrmann’s The Trouble with Harry. Ultimately, Trauma is a highly entertaining film that fans of Euro cult cinema should thoroughly enjoy.

When it comes to giallo cinema, I have a blind spot, giallo cinema is my favorite type of films to watch. And though there’s no denying that giallo cinema has its fair share of mediocre films. It’s one of the few genres in which I can personally look past any shortcomings, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

That said, in this reviewer’s opinion you can never own enough giallo’s. And when Vinegar Syndrome announced which films would be part of Forgotten Gialli: Volume One. I was instantly excited at the prospect to discover giallo cinema that’s languished in obscurity.

Whether you’re a hardcore fan of giallo cinema or a novice to giallo cinema. A release like Forgotten Gialli: Volume One is another extraordinary release from Vinegar Syndrome, a company who continue to raise the bar when it comes to definitive home video presentations, highly recommended.

























Written by Michael Den Boer

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