• Though I had long been intrigued by the fact that Mondo Macabro released this as a "Special Edition", I wasn't sure what to expect of it - having only watched the director's juvenile mythological romp HERCULES (1983) - but now I have to say that I totally agree with the blurb found on the DVD front cover, proclaiming it as "a lost giallo classic"!

    Suspenseful and atmospheric, this is surely among the most Hitchcockian gialli ever made and one of the least conventional - never really going where the audience expects it to by piling up surprise upon surprise till the very end! Cozzi's professional debut, in hindsight, has also been recognized as his best work; he had earlier collaborated on the script of Dario Argento's FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (1971) and even helmed an episode, called "The Neighbor", in Argento's four-part TV series DOOR INTO DARKNESS (1973). Actually, the director himself admits that the feature - which was filmed during this same year but not released till '75! - was basically an expansion of that short (particularly the sea-side set-piece which occupies most of the second half), done on a more elaborate if still modest scale (given that Cozzi had no art director assigned to the production and the props were mostly borrowed from various crew members!) and also a lot more graphic.

    Nando De Luca's score - a vital element in any giallo - is quite serviceable, considering that he was more or less foisted upon the director! The film features some expert cross-cutting (particularly between the initial murder and a society party, and later during two parallel sex scenes - one of them Cristina Galbo's rape at the hands of the ambiguous and peculiar-looking killer, played by Michel Antoine). The rest of the cast is also well chosen: nominal star George Hilton, actually, is absent for moments on end but he plays his part to the hilt {sic}; Eduardo Fajardo, too, has one of his best roles as the wily Police Inspector on the killer/kidnapper's trail; Alessio Orano as the male member of a young couple who get more than they bargained for when a car they steal turns out to hold incriminating evidence. Apart from the lovely Galbo (whose performance is far above the norm for the genre), here we have two more, if elder, beauties in Teresa Velasquez (proposed by the Spanish co-producers after Pamela Tiffin turned Cozzi down!) and frequent "Euro-Cult" starlet Femi Benussi (in a role intended for the much younger Gloria Guida, still an unknown at the time) - all of whom are asked to shed their clothes during the course of the picture!

    The film was originally called THE SPIDER (and, in fact, its Italian equivalent - IL RAGNO - heralds the end titles on the print utilized here), which is a subtle allusion to the cat-and-mouse games played throughout between the various characters. The DVD extras are exemplary and Cozzi's ubiquitous (and obviously passionate) contribution is highly engaging, imparting a lot of interesting anecdotes such as the fact that, at one point, cameraman Riccardo Pallottini had to leave the production because of previous commitments to another - and was eventually replaced by FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET's Franco Di Giacomo, who happened to be his own daughter's husband! He also recalls his aborted collaboration with legendary composer Ennio Morricone, master of the giallo score; other information, such as the in-joke involving the initials on Antoine's lighter, was easy enough to catch for discerning viewers.

    Distressingly, though, the music on the DVD main menu plays out at a defeaning level - while there's severe overscan during the various text supplements (though not so that one can't grasp the gist of it, thankfully)! Besides, this really should have been a 2-Disc Set with Cozzi's rare and amateurish debut, THE TUNNEL UNDER THE WORLD (1969; referenced quite a bit in the feature itself) included on a second DVD - as No Shame did with HIS DAY OF GLORY (1969) on the PARTNER (1968) SE and THE RIP-OFF (1978) on the as-yet-unreleased Double-Disc Set of COLT 38 SPECIAL SQUAD (1976)...