Sunday, August 29, 2021

Forgotten Gialli: Volume Two (The Girl in Room 2A/The French Sex Murders/My Dear Killer) – Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1974 (The Girl in Room 2A), Italy/West Germany/France, 1972 (The French Sex Murders), Italy, 1972 (My Dear Killer)
Directors: William L. Rose (The Girl in Room 2A), Ferdinando Merighi (The French Sex Murders), Tonino Valerii (My Dear Killer)
Cast: Daniela Giordano, Rosalba Neri, Raf Vallone, Karin Schubert (The Girl in Room 2A), Robert Sacchi, Howard Vernon, Rosalba Neri, Barbara Bouchet, Anita Ekberg (The French Sex Murders), George Hilton, William Berger, Patty Shepard, Helga Line (My Dear Killer)

Release Date: November 27th, 2020
Approximate Running Times: 86 Minutes 20 Seconds (The Girl in Room 2A), 90 Minutes 56 Seconds (The French Sex Murders), 100 Minutes 1 Second (My Dear Killer)
Aspect Ratios: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Girl in Room 2A), 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The French Sex Murders), 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (My Dear Killer)
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English (The Girl in Room 2A, The French Sex Murders), DTS-HD Mono Italian (My Dear Killer)
Subtitles: English (All Films)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $79.98

The Girl in Room 2A "After being released from prison, a young woman named Margaret goes to stay at a halfway house for female ex-cons, run by the kindly Mrs. Grant. It’s not long before Margaret begins experiencing strange happenings in the old house, such as a recurring red stain on the floor. And worse, she begins to be plagued by visions of young women being tortured and murdered by a mysterious figure in a red hood. But things take an even more unsettling turn when she befriends Charlie, who is searching for his sister, who has disappeared after staying in Mrs. Grant’s house..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

The French Sex Murders "Following the brutal death of a prostitute at an exclusive Parisian brothel, grizzled Inspector Fontaine is brought in to investigate. After implicating Antoine, a petty thief and regular client of the murdered woman, Fontaine believes the case to be closed. However, Antoine makes a daring attempt to escape custody, only to get decapitated in the process, after which his eyes are given over to strange Professor Waldemar for study. But soon enough those affiliated with implicating him begin to meet their own violent ends. Has Antoine's vengeful spirit returned to kill those he believes responsible for his own gruesome fate? Or has another, more sinister character been behind these diabolical murders from the very beginning?" - synopsis provided by the distributor

My Dear Killer "After a man is decapitated by an excavator at a rural construction site, Inspector Luca Peretti is assigned to the case. But what initially seems to be an isolated killing soon paves the way for an ever growing number of vicious murders. As Peretti tries desperately to unmask the killer, he discovers that all of the victims were, in some way, connected to another shocking crime, the horrific murder of a young girl, which has remained unsolved for several years..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5 (The Girl in Room 2A, The French Sex Murders, My Dear Killer)

Here’s the information provided about The Girl in Room 2A and The French Sex Murders' transfers, "Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm original negative". Here's the information provided about My Dear Killer's transfer, "Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original negative".

Here’s more information about The Girl in Room 2A, "The following presentation of 'Girl in Room 2A' represents what we believe to be the longest and most complete version ever released on home video. While the English export cut removed a few brief pieces of footage at various points in the film, it also included two short, English language specific, additional scenes not present in any other version. Therefore, we are presenting an integral version which includes all of the footage from both the Italian and Export cuts. Due to the absence of the Export scenes in the original negative, they have been sourced from a 35mm release print.

Furthermore, while watching the English dub, the audio will occasionally switch to subtitled Italian and while watching the Italian dub, the audio during the two scenes unique to the Export cut, will switch to English, as no Italian dub was ever created for them.”

The Girl in Room 2A comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.9 GB

Feature: 22.3 GB

The French Sex Murders comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 23.2 GB

Feature: 22.5 GB

My Dear Killer comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45.3 GB

Feature: 28.8 GB (Uncut Version), 10.1 GB (Alternate English Language Version)

The source for The Girl in Room 2A looks very good. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look correct, black levels, and image clarity look solid throughout and grain remains intact. That said, the few moments that are taken from a 35mm print are not as strong as the bulk of transfer.

The sources for The French Sex Murders and My Dear Killer look great. Colors and flesh tones look correct, black levels, and image clarity look solid throughout and grain remain intact.

Audio: 4/5 (The Girl in Room 2A, The French Sex Murders), 3.5/5 (My Dear Killer)

The Girl in Room 2A and The French Sex Murders each come with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD Mono mix in English. All audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced throughout. Both films come with removable English subtitles for their Italian language tracks.

My Dear Killer comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and removable English subtitles. Though there are some sibilance issues and background hiss, fortunately they’re never too distracting. Also, dialog comes through clearly, ambient sounds are well-represented and Ennio Morricone’s score sounds appropriately robust.

It should-be noted that the alternate English language version of My Dear Killer was sourced from a videotape.

Extras:

Extras for The Girl in Room 2A include reversible cover art, stills gallery, a trailer for The Girl in Room 2A (2 minutes 33 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English subtitles), an audio essay by film historian/critic Rachael Nisbet (17 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English subtitles) and an archival interview with actress Daniela Giordano (11 minutes 20 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles).

Extras for The French Sex Murders include reversible cover art, a promotional still gallery, a featurette on the career of producer Dick Randall titled The Wild, Wild World of Dick Randall (32 minutes 41 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English subtitles) and an  commentary track with authors/film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan.

Extras for My Dear Killer include reversible cover art, an interview with writer Roberto Leoni titled Innocence Lost (44 minutes 59 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actor George Hilton and director Tonino Valerii (13 minutes 28 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles) and alternate English language version of My Dear Killer (98 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English with removable English SDH subtitles).

Summary:

The Girl in Room 2A: There is something distinctly different about Italian thrillers that sets them apart from thrillers from other countries. And though there have been countless imitations that have tried to recreate the vibe that has become synonymous with Italian thrillers. It always becomes quickly clear when a foreign entity is at the helm of what appears too be an Italian thriller.

The Girl in Room 2A is a perfect example of such mimicry, it's a film produced by an American filmmaker, who up to that point in his career had only directed sexploitation films. Sure, Italian thrillers are ripe with sexuality and in this regard The Girl in Room 2A is mildly successful. Unfortunately, when it comes to building and sustaining tension, The Girl in Room 2A fails in this regard. Also, when it comes to one of this genres most recognizable staples, the kill scene, this film is often lacking visually.

Another key competent that makes Italian thrillers so enjoyable, is that in which they go to great lengths to hide the killer's identity. And in many instances this ends up back firing because far too often it is too easy to guess who the killer is? And in the case of The Girl in Room 2A, let’s just say that the eureka moment is painfully obvious.

Without a doubt, The Girl in Room 2A's most durable and satisfying asset is its stellar cast which includes many recognizable Euro-Cult faces like, Daniela Giordano (Four Times That Night) in the role of the protagonist, Raf Vallone (The Italian Job), Brad Harris (Samson, Goliath against the Giants), Karin Schubert (Emanuelle around the World, Hanna D: The Girl from Vondel Park) and Rosalba Neri (Top Sensation, French Sex Murders). Ultimately The Girl in Room 2A is an underwhelming thriller that spends way to much time dragging its feet and when it finally does make up its mind, by then it is too little to late by then.

The French Sex Murders: Dick Randall produced The French Sex Murders, he was a producer who worked in a variety of films genre and who’s films are known for amping up exploitive elements. Some of his notable films include Four Times That Night, The Clones of Bruce Lee, For Your Height Only and Pieces.

The French Sex Murders was Dick Randall’s first of two foray’s into the Giallo genre. And where his latter-film The Girl in Room 2A lacks an Italian vibe. The same cannot be said for The French Sex Murders, a film who’s behind the scenes crew was predominantly Italian. Key collaborators on The French Sex Murders include Bruno Nicolai (The Case of the Bloody Iris, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key) and editor Bruno Mattei (Hell of the Living Dead, Shocking DarK).

When watching The French Sex Murders the thing that immediately grabs you is its learning man  Robert Sacchi who’s face bears a striking resemblance to Humphrey Bogart. And just like Humphrey Bogart’s most celebrated characters, Robert Sacchi portrays a Philip Marlowe-like character that became synonymous with 1940’s film Noir. That said, though he looks like Humphrey Bogart, Robert Sacchi’s range as an actor pales in comparison.

Made at the height of the early 1970’s Gialli film cycle, The French Sex Murders has all elements that one would expect, most notably an ample amount of nudity/sleaze. And the murder set pieces are sufficiently gory.

Without a doubt, The French Sex Murders greatest asset is its cast of who’s who from 1970’s Euro-cult cinema, which includes  Anita Ekberg (La Dolce Vita, The Killer Nun), Rosalba Neri (Top Sensation, Amuck), Barbara Bouchet (The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, Don't Torture a Duckling) and Jess Franco regular Howard Vernon. Ultimately, The French Sex Murders is a highly entertaining mix of murder, sleaze and outlandish moments. 

My Dear Killer: Tonino Valerii began his career directing spaghetti westerns. He is best remembered for directing such classics like Day of Anger and My Name is Nobody. In 1972 he would direct My Dear Killer his only foray into the Giallo genre.

Content wise, though My Dear Killer has many elements that are synonymous with Giallo cinema. The result is a film that at times resembles Poliziotteschi cinema. Nowhere is this clearer, then how My Dear Killer’s main investigator is a police detective and not the more common everyday person who finds themselves caught up in an investigation. 

That said, though My Dear has a few gory murder set pieces. The overall tone of My Dear Killer is not as violent or sleazy as most Giallo made in the early 1970’s. My Dear Killer’s standout murder set piece is a scene where a school teacher is murder with a circular saw. This sequence foreshadows a scene from Brian De Palma’s Body Double, where a power drill kills a character.

George Hilton is no stranger to the Giallo genre starring several classic’s like Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, The Case of the Bloody Iris, All the Colors of the Dark, The Killer Must Strike Again and Next! And he’s been cast in the role of an Inspector named Peretti. He delivers a strong performance that’s backed up by his charisma. Also, My Dear Killer has a strong supporting cast and Tonino Valerii uses them to their fullest potential.

Ennio Morricone’s scores are an integral part to every film he works on. With My Dear Killer he delivers another superlative score that employs sorrowful coral vocals to great effect. Ultimately, My Dear Killer is a classic Giallo made at the height of the genre’s popularity before the onslaught of imitators that helped kill the genre off by the late 1970’s.

Vinegar Syndrome add another exemplary release to their Forgotten Gialli series, highly recommended.
























Written by Michael Den Boer

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