27 September 2007 | Bunuel1976
THE MANIAC RESPONSIBLE (Mario Caiano, 1975) **1/2
I don't know how many times I missed out on this one on late-night Italian TV, believing it to be a low-brow poliziottesco; having recently enjoyed Caiano's WEAPONS OF DEATH (1977) and, noticing it was scheduled for yet another passage this week, I decided to check it out (even if I knew that particular channel would suffer from bad reception).
As it turned out, the film contains strong elements of the giallo and, in fact, most resembles a similar hybrid I watched a couple of weeks ago Massimo Dallamano's WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS? (1974)! The plot again involves the uncovering of a teenage prostitution ring (also treated in Romolo Guerrieri's CITY UNDER SIEGE ) though, in this case, it emerges as a red herring (a false trail picked up by the police in its investigation into the disappearance of the 15 year-old daughter of eminent surgeon Gabriele Ferzetti).
The above-average cast also includes Antonio Sabato (better than expected as the cop assigned to the case), Enrico Maria Salerno as his superior, Luciana Paluzzi as a social worker (paralleling the feminist angle seen in the Dallamano film), Ettore Manni as a peeper, Marino Mase' as the racketeer leading an outwardly respectable life, etc. Similar to WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?, the police procedural is quite thorough and takes center-stage; however, a couple of the murders are pretty graphic (one of them was basically replicated outright into Alberto Negrin's RINGS OF FEAR  another giallo which recently received a first-time viewing from me). Actually, the film feels a bit too voyeuristic in its intent (with plenty of gratuitous female nudity) though making up for this by not providing any easy answers with its unexpected revelation at the finale