Thursday, June 28, 2012

In short: 5 Donne Per L'Assassino (1974)

aka 5 Women for the Killer

When writer Giorgio Pisani (Francis Matthews) returns home from some (possibly journalism related) travels, he finds his wife has not survived the birth of their first child. Shortly after the burial, Pisani learns that the child can't be his own, for family friend Dr. Lydia Franzi (Pascale Rivault) and his wife had hidden the most horrible of truths - at least that's how the film treats it - from him: his sperm count is so bad, he can't possibly be responsible for anyone's pregnancy.

Soon after that, a brutal series of murders of young women in the early stages of pregnancy begins. All of the victims are connected to Pisani one way or the other, so the nameless cop investigating the case (Howard Ross) obviously begins to suspect the writer.

Were this a more interesting giallo, Pisani would now start an investigation of his own to find the true killer among the good number of other possible suspects - a misogynist prick of a doctor (Giorgio Albertazzi), his wife's step brother, his wife's sleazy brother-brother - but as it stands, neither of our supposed protagonists is going to do much investigating on screen.

And that right there is the main problem I have with Stelvio Massi's 5 Donne Per L'Assassino. While it does feature many a stylishly filmed scene, creatively sleazy murders, and an excellent jazz-based soundtrack by Giorgio Gaslini, that's about all it has going for it.

The characters are boring and flat, and are certainly never doing anything of interest, the script is only interested in the murder scenes but ignores chance after chance to develop any thematic depth even though the film's basic set-up screams for an actual exploration of the different ways its different male characters hate women. Instead, it's all murders and set-ups of obvious red herrings, with little to keep them interesting. It's as if Massi were trying to make a giallo that's closer to a more conventional murder mystery, but forgot to add the actual mystery solving aspect to the film.

Else, there are some of the genre-mandatory jibes against the bourgeoisie, but these I've seen treated with more enthusiasm and effectiveness in dozens of other giallos.

As a whole 5 Donne Per L'Assassino treads the boring middle-ground of the giallo genre, and leaves more involved things to other movies.


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