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  • From the director of the better known "Alla Ricerca del Piacere" (aka "Amuck!") comes this stylish thriller that involves not only a confusing web of love affairs and relationships, but also - towards the climax - a bundle of twists that are guaranteed to surprise every viewer without becoming implausible at any moment.

    And this is the big plus of this movie: The twists all work. The first half moves on relatively slow (similar to Silvio Amadio's above mentioned earlier Giallo), but the viewer already gets enough information to know that the plot isn't as simple as it seems. In the second half the film becomes a roller coaster ride of red herrings, plot twists and other surprises, which makes it decisively superior to Amadio's earlier effort.

    The acting is also thoroughly convincing, which is especially important once the film is finished and the viewer gets the whole story. But the most remarkable thing in this intriguing Giallo is the lush, ear-catching main theme that will never let one go after being heard for the first time.
  • Judging by the plot and the fact that it's directed by Silvio Amandio, I feared that this Giallo would be a lot like the director's earlier success 'Amuck!', but despite similarities between the pair; Smile Before Death is a lot more than merely a retread of the earlier work. This film adheres more closely to the Giallo tradition of stylish and bloody murders than the earlier movie, but still finds time to ensure that the plot always revolves around the central situation. In fact, it's a miracle that Amandio has managed to keep his script from becoming a complete mess; as aside from this new flair for murders, and the central situation; Smile Before Death is also a twisty little thriller, which manages to pull several things out of the hat before boiling down to a superb and unexpected conclusion. The plot follows the death of a woman named Dorothy. The police declare it suicide, but it's not long before Dorothy's daughter, Nancy, makes her way to her mother's house; where she meets the seductive Gena and her stepfather, Marco. However, things turn sinister when the housekeeper divulges some information that means Dorothy's death may not have been suicide...

    The film starts off slowly, and aside from some lush photography that makes good use of its female leads, the film doesn't really commence until the half way point. Amandio keeps the tension bubbling throughout, and sex is always at the forefront of the action. Roberto Pregadio provides a suitable catchy jingle, which accompanies nearly every scene in the movie. The tune is typically Italian, and fits the movie well; but I'd have preferred it if it was played a bit less often, as it soon starts to get old, and the overall impact is lessened. The movie benefits, as Amuck did, from a great leading performance from Rosalba Neri, who is joined by the stunning Luciana Della Robbia. The pair doesn't share any scenes together that are as great as those between Neri and Barbara Bouchet in Amuck, but Silvio Amandio obviously enjoys filming lesbian scenes; and when they're this good, I enjoy watching them! The film is rounded off by an isolated atmosphere, which provides a pressure cooker for the lead characters to roast in. This is a rare Giallo in that, by the conclusion, most aspects of it make sense and while Smile Before Death is hard to track down, I recommend making the effort!
  • 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.
  • The sinfully slinky 'Smile Before Death' aka 'Il Sorriso della iena' (1972) remains a bizarrely under scrutinized, salaciously saucy slasher from cult Italian film-maker, Silvio 'Amuck!' Amadio. This deliciously deviant, unjustly obscure, sublimely sexy, full-bloodied, sensuously soft-bodied Giallo features that deliciously divine brunette Rosalba Neri, the wickedly sultry queen of B-Movie scream and hellaciously hunky, Hiram Keller as a voluptuously-villainous duo plotting to do most grievous harm to the stepdaughter of Hiram's resolutely ill-minded character.

    Bravura genre director Silvio Amadio's breezily stylish and frequently raunchy follow-up to "Amuck!" is fulsomely engorged with giddy plot twists, plentifully lurid stalk an' slash, and is busily replete with the ubiquitous "shock" ending rabid Gialli/thriller fans so ardently crave! 'Smile before Death' is most certainly guaranteed to amuse and bemuse in equally confounding measure, and remains an entirely worthy entry to this most histrionic of iconoclastic, bombastic film idioms. This gorgeous Giallo's relative rarity is wholly undeserved and one sincerely hopes that eventually it will soon get a glisteringly-restored Italian language, UK-friendly, feature-loaded DVD/Blu-ray release that this tremendously exciting thriller so earnestly deserves!
  • 16-year-old boarding school student Nancy (Jenny Tamburi) arrives in town after her mother commits suicide. She is taken in by her stepfather Marco (Silvano Tranquilli), who has already moved in his mistress Gianna (Rosalba Neri). Things get a bit strange when Nancy begins to suspect her mother didn't commit suicide and puts the moves on both of her hosts. This is a nifty little thriller from Silvio (AMUCK!) Amadio with enough twists and turns to keep you interested. The main mystery isn't too hard to guess, but there is a nice extra twist at the end and, of course, another one for good measure. Tamburi and the gorgeous Neri spend a lot of their screen time nude and that certainly helps too. Quite possibly the best thing about the film is a theme that is so catchy with Amadio using it at every opportunity. You will definitely be humming it for days after watching this one.
  • Teenaged Nancy Thompson arrives unexpectedly at her mothers county villa.She discovers that her mom has died a violent death.The police investigate and believe the she killed herself by cutting her throat with a piece of broken of glass.Nancy meets and becomes friends with Gina who was her mothers best friend and who has a special relationship with her stepfather.Soon the older man turns his roving eye toward this young beauty as suspicion about the suicide starts to come to light.Pretty sleazy and entertaining Italian giallo with plenty of nudity and some nasty surprises.I haven't seen Silvio Amadio's "Amuck" yet,but I'd like to.The performances of Jenny Tamburi and sexy Rosalba Neri are fantastic and I must say that they are perhaps the main reasons to see this surprisingly obscure giallo.8 out of 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When her estranged(..and very rich)mother dies(..ruled a suicide, though it's obviously not), teenage Nancy(Jenny Tamburi, twenty at the time, but succeeds in her portrayal of a coquettish Lolita-type of teenage girl who might not be the dense, naive simpleton they at first suspect)returns home from years of various boarding schools to enjoy life on the wilder side, living with lothario step-dad Marco(..the handsome Silvano Tranquilli)and successful photographer Gianna(..the sensual Rosalba Neri, so divine you can't take your eyes off of her). Gianna was given carte blanche by Nancy's mother Dorothy to live in her own place while operating a studio on the estate. Gianna was also Marco's lover, and the two scheme to murder Nancy because when she "comes of age", the inheritance is hers. But, instead Nancy begins to seduce them, while also turning Gianna and Marco against each other through cunning manipulation..but, while quite drawn to Nancy, neither actually ever trusts her.

    Boy, this is quite a trio we watch throughout the film. You always wonder what might happen next despite the fact that writer-director Silvio Amadio lays the cards out on the table midway through regarding how Dorothy was killed, detailed how it was accomplished, letting us know that Nancy might be in grave danger because the murder was so well orchestrated. Yet, you always(..or, at least I did)wonder what Nancy has up her sleeve. Late into the film, Marco discovers Nancy chatting with someone at a horse race which plants a seed of curiosity regarding her own possible agenda. The film is slick under Amadio's direction and he casts doubt on all three characters. To chose, Nancy seems to be the one we sympathize with as Marco and Gianna plot about the proper method of execution.

    My favorite aspect is the homo-eroticism between Gianna and Nancy. Through Neri's performance(..she commands your attention in a minimalist fashion), we can see Gianna's attraction to Nancy right away, and as the film continues, that infatuation grows(..especially after photographing her nude or barely clothed)..it's all in her eyes, this lust that begins to take hold. Also racy is Nancy's seduction of the much older Marco, his resistance of her not contained very long. But, most of all, the twists at the end. The fate of all who desire the deceased Dorothy's money, along with multiple double crosses, and the downfall of an ingenious plot(s), not to mention the ultimate irony as the screen fades black, certainly make SMILE BEFORE DEATH quite a giallo worth seeking out if you can find a copy. It deserves a legitimate DVD release, a giallo I'm sure fans would be interested in.
  • I've pretty much seen all the classics as well as the hidden gems of the Italian sub genre of Giallo, so what remains now are the more obscure and undiscovered gems … If I'm lucky, at least. "Smile before Death" is such a film Giallo connoisseurs have certainly heard about already, but the film remains unavailable on DVD to this day and if you really want to see it you have to be satisfied with a computer ripped bootleg version with poor picture quality and unidentifiable foreign subtitles. "Smile before Death" is not bad, but certainly not great neither (otherwise it would be wider known by now, ha!) This isn't exactly what I would call the most exciting Giallo ever made. It opens promisingly enough, with the murder of a middle-aged woman in a remote country estate. The bedroom door was locked from the inside when they found the body and her throat was slit with a piece of glass that was found in her hand, so the police close the case as suicide. The teenage daughter Nancy comes to the estate and befriends her mother's best friend, a photographer, as well as her handsome lover. The initially shy Nancy is quickly drawn into the sleazy world of nude modeling and the sexual affection of mature men. She doesn't know, however, that the clue to solving her mother's dead lies with these same people and that she's actually an obstacle in the killer(s) complete fiendish scheme. "Smile before Death" a stylish but sadly dull and underwhelming mystery thriller. Apart from the murder on the mother near the beginning, which is shown repeatedly and at least three times, there's nothing even remotely suspenseful going on. I remember from "Amuck" – the other Giallo by Silvio Amadio – that the director is more interested in the naked bodies of his lead actresses than in suspense and gruesome killing. I can't say I blame him, especially when working with Rosalba Neri, but the lack of excitement here is really intolerable. The theme song is great but overused and after a while I got sick and tired of staring at the young lead actress' naked body. That's never a good sign. Patient viewers will be rewarded with an acceptably entertaining – albeit predictable and derivative – climax, but it's too late to safe the movie. One of the most disappointing Gialli I ever saw.
  • The chirpy, Euro-Barbara Windsor squeaking soundtrack that introduces this film would perhaps fool you into think you're about to watch some "Whoopsy-Boing!" sex comedy, but you'd be wrong. Except for the sex bit.

    A horrible rich lady who has an open marriage with her Roman noble husband (Silvano Tranquili) is found dead within a locked room, her throat cut. Everyone thinks it was suicide...well, the police think it was suicide, but no one else does, especially housekeeper Magda, who now tends to the needs of Silvano and his mistress, photographer and professional moody looking smoker Rosalba Neri.

    A spanner is thrown into the works when the rich lady's daughter from a previous marriage turns up after quitting boarding school (or something like that). Her wide eyed innocence certainly catches the eyes of Rosalba, who quickly bonds with the girl by taking loads of pictures of her and conveying the idea that she may bat for both sides, as it were. Silvano's eyebrows are certainly raised when comes home to find his step-daughter bare-arsed in front of a mirror, but if this newcomer has a legit stake in the money left by the rich jerk lady, what are out scheming twosome going to do about it?

    This is more of your old-school giallo set in a big house with rich people being duplicitous and trying to out-do each other, with the usual plot twists thrown in for good measure, and a whole heap of photographer sessions between the young girl and a drooling Rosalba Neri. Obviously the girl gets it on with both the lead actors but you don't get a slow motion lesbian sex scene like you did with Silvio Amadio's previous Amuck. That said, those looking for nudity won't be let down as the stepdaughter seemingly spends half the film naked.

    I've got to admit that I found the soundtrack really irritating. "A-chi-chi-chi-di-di-dididida-chi...aaaaaaaah!" indeed.
  • qua-84-73870431 December 2020
    Easily 60% of the run time of this movie has an absurdly annoying song playing on a loop. It is downright maddening. There are some twists, meh, whatever. The main chick has a great rack, I've give the movie that.
  • Great, fun giallo, full of twists and turns and a complete mystery till the end. Also, no police in this at all and the characters explain the situation as we go along and at what appears to be the end. Rosalba Neri is superb and although it seems churlish, if it had been her disrobing every couple of minutes, instead of Jenny Tamburi, this would probably have got another star! Always colourful, totally absorbing and a wonderfully tinkling and infuriatingly catchy soundtrack from Roberto Pregadio. Hard to find but giallo fans must search it out. Such were my notes made after watching this some years ago.

    PS Watched this again, without at first realising I had seen it before, and although it did gradually dawn upon me, still couldn't remember what happened because of all the twists. Poor Jenny Tambour works really hard here, clothed and unclothed but Neri is still the centre of our attention.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Smile Before Death* was a revelation to me. I came in expecting nothing and was rewarded with a film that has multiple antagonists and a continually twisting close, a near race to the finish to see who will end up on top.



    Marco (Silvano Tranquilli, Black Belly of the Tarantula; So Sweet, So Dead) and Dorothy are trapped in an open marriage that feels incredibly confining. To make things worse, her best friend Gianna (Rosalba Neri, Lady Frankenstein, The French Sex Murders) is his mistress.

    Is it any surprise that Dorothy gets killed and it looks like a suicide and that Marco did it? Soon, he's in charge of her estate until her daughter Nancy (Jenny Tamburi**, The Psychic, The Suspicious Death of a Minor) turns twenty. So Marco retires and lives a life of leisure with his mistress until Nancy returns home.

    That's when everyone starts playing each other, with Gianna trying to get Marco to kill his stepdaughter, Nancy seducing him and - spoiler warning - Gianna falling for her as well.

    Silvio Amadio only made one other giallo and that would be Amuck! Much like that film, this one also proves that Silvio was perhaps more interested in filming gorgeous women misbehaving as he was showing the kills when it came to giallo. No matter. This movie has plenty of plot to go around and I was genuinely surprised by the conclusion of this caper.

    Roberto Predagio's theme song - with plenty of scat singing by Edda Dell'Orso - will be burned into your mind by the end of this.

    I'd be shocked if this didn't end up on Forgotten Gialli Volume 3.

    *The translation for the Italian title is The Smile of the Hyena. I have no idea what that means in relation to the film's story and blame the animal-themed demand for post-The Bird with the Crystal Plumage giallo titles.

    **Tamburi won the femme fatale role of Graziella in La Seduzione because Ornella Muti, the original actress, was considered too attractive.
  • Following her mother's death, a teen moves home to look into what's going on and discovers the awkward relationship between her stepfather and his assistant, but when she starts to make strange claims about the incident forces them to play a thrilling plan to protect a deadly secret between them.

    This here is an effective and enjoyable enough sleazy thriller. Among it's better features is the wholly impressive storyline at play that offers quite a lot to like. With the initial belief of the suicide taken care of and arriving at the studio where the photography and modeling career she inadvertently enters into, this provides a stellar backdrop for the caregivers to appear appropriately shady. Given how this slowly dawning facet with their interactions with each other or treatment towards her is played out, the disbelief at the suicide prognosis feels realistic. When this setup fully blows up into the assumption of something happening, the full-born changeover into how she presents herself to the turn into a dual-pronged sexual game is quite fun. Playing the innocent girl just discovering her wild and uninhibited side with each of them, how this plays out with her seduction towards them both as the sexual escapades under the guise of trying to carry out a relationship with them both is quite impressive. As the manipulations carry on and both sides become aware of everything the tension and suspense are just as great as the eroticism. That is also one of the other fine positives in its sleaze and genre-trappings. The various photoshoots and scenes of the two together where it usually resorts to fully nude couplings add nicely to the sleazy air here just as much as the traditional erotic moments of him and her being together. Since we've seen this occur through their seduction and corruption, this is quite a fun addition to the film with the more overt thriller elements in the final half which employs some action and suspense as well as several solid twists that are quite surprising for a lot to like here. There are a few minor issues with this one. One of the main flaws is the rather clumsy work done for the heroine of the film which makes sense in the finale yet before gives this a confusing and rather unsympathetic lead. Openly coy about seducing both of them and going from the doe-eyed ingenue with little believable means of accomplishing that is a bit confusing, much in the same way that the end reveals seems to throw all of the events from the previous build-up about them which all makes for an unlikeable lead. Overall, these here hold this one back.

    Rated Unrated/R: Full Nudity, Violence, several sex scenes and Language.
  • bensonmum214 December 2017
    After years at a boarding school, Nancy Thompson (Jenny Tamburi) arrives at her late mother's home and is introduced to her step-father, Marco (Silvano Tranquilli), whom she's never met, and his lady friend, Gianna (Rosalba Neri). Nancy's mother's death was ruled a suicide, but Nancy's not so sure. She suspects that either Marco or Gianna or dboth may have had a hand in her death. Nancy begins playing a dangerous game by pitting Marco and Gianna against each other in her attempt to get to the truth.

    Smile Before Death is nice little giallo. With only three characters that have any real screen-time and only two or three different sets, it's what I'd definitely call "little". Nancy's mother's murder may not be overly complicated, but it's still a real treat to watch Nancy get to the bottom of things as Marco and Gianna turn on each other. It's a hoot watching Nancy play them like a fiddle. They fall for it hook, line, and sinker. It's some terrific writing given how "little" the movie is. Director Silvio Amadio (better known for his giallo, Amuck) does a remarkable job of keeping the interest high even though we already know where most of the film is headed. Amadio also does a fantastic job of springing not just one, but two twists near the film's finale. Both worked perfectly as far as I'm concerned. Fantastic job of filmmaking.

    I can't say enough about the cast. I'm not really familiar with Tamburi, but here, she's perfect. Her transformation from shy schoolgirl to full-blown sexpot is a nice piece of acting. Tranquilli is a real pro, having appeared in a number of genre films I've seen in the past. As for Neri, I've sung her praises so many times in the past that doing so here would be pointless. I'll just say, she's good.

    Based on my rating, it's obvious that the film isn't perfect in my eyes, but giallo fans really ought to check out this relatively obscure film. It's worth it.