25 August 2014 | melvelvit-1
An Italian proto-giallo that's worth a look, at least
Within the first ten minutes, John Drew Barrymore gets beaten up by gangsters, talks his girlfriend into an abortion, and convinces his mistress they'd be better off with her wealthy husband dead but nothing is what it seems in this post-noir/proto-giallo crime thriller. It actually references the Italian horror sub-genre by having a police inspector ask one of the suspects what kind of books she reads and she replies "anything except giallo -they're too violent and improbable" but, of course, she doesn't have to since life soon begins to imitate art. There's also a horribly disfigured family member hidden away upstairs with the lovely Lisa Gastoni as his mysterious nurse. The gritty black & white photography and jazzy score give the film a "noir" ambiance and what appears to be a happy ménage à trois ending turns into a satisfyingly sick denouement just in the nick of time. Throughout his dodgy "B-list" career, psychotronic film star John Barrymore, Jr. either tried too hard or not hard enough and this is a case of the latter, unfortunately, but I was interested even if he wasn't and the film definitely belongs in a "giallo continuum" that begins with 1934's GIALLO.