Smile Before Death (1972)

  |  Horror, Thriller

Smile Before Death (1972) Poster

After the death of her mother under strange circumstances, a teenage girl quickly begins to suspect that her recently widowed stepfather may be involved.


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21 February 2006 | lazarillo
Obscure, but interesting giallo
This obscure giallo was made after director Silvio Amado's excellent "Amuck" (his only work to get a decent DVD release so far), but before his tepid melodrama "So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious". It actually shares elements with both, but I'm pleased to report it is much closer in quality to "Amuck". Visually it is not as stylish (although that might just be due to the crappy available prints), but it has the same interesting plot twists and excellent acting.

After a her mother's suspicious suicide, a pretty teenage girl (Lucia Della Robbins)shows up at her Italian villa where she quickly discovers that her new and recently widowed stepfather (Hiram Keller) is having an affair with her mother's sexy photographer friend (Rosalba Neri, also in "Amuck"). The villainous pair plot to do in the precocious youngster, but it turns out she has her own sinister agenda as she has sexually insinuates herself between the two of them (bedding the stepfather and doing nude photo sessions with Neri). The ending is genuinely a surprise.

Neri is good as always (although she isn't quite as exciting shooting photographs as she is shooting a shotgun in a bikini). I initially thought the teenage girl should have been played by Gloria Guida (who was later in "So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious"). Robbins wasn't a sex bomb like Guida perhaps, but she turns out to be a much better actress going from wholesome innocence to sexual precociousness to scheming malevolence, where Guida could really only have pulled off the middle one very convincingly. Special mention should also be made of the catchy, cooing score, which somehow later made its way into a 1990's American car commercial (go figure). It's even more memorable than the "Sexual!" song from "Amuck". It's not a perfect movie perhaps--it suffers from having only one brief scene of Neri getting naked (made up somewhat by frequent scenes of Della Robbins getting naked)and, of course, it looks pretty crappy. Still with a restored print and a legitimate DVD release it could be a minor classic of the genre.

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Release Date:

4 May 1972



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