Mr. Mainardi (Euro fave, George Hilton) accidentally witnesses a man (Michel Antoine) dumping a body. Rather than report the crime to the police, Mainardi blackmails him into murdering his wealthy wife, Norma. Things go smoothly, but before the killer can dispose of Norma's body, a delinquent couple steals the car which has the corpse stashed in the trunk. The maniac begins tracking them down as the two are completely oblivious to what they've gotten themselves into.
Before I bought and watched "The Killer Must Kill Again", Luigi Cozzi wasn't a director I had been particularly fond of. Being the sucker for gialli that I am, I decided to take a chance on this one when the DVD hit. While this isn't in the upper tier of Italian horror, it did prove to me that Cozzi is quite capable of doing something above substandard sleaze and cheese.
This is actually a quality film, though I fail to see how it has found itself classified as a giallo. We know who the killer if from the get-go, though he is never named. There is no mystery here unless you wonder what led to his initial murder which Mainardi stumbles upon. I have to say that it reminded me of Hitchcock's classic suspense pictures more than it did any giallo. "Dial M for Murder" definitely came to mind at first, but then it went off in it's own direction. On the other hand, as is usually the case in the giallo sub-genre, virtually none of the characters are totally innocent. The protagonists steal a car and $150, plus they lie constantly. I also thought it was amusing how Luca is romancing this girl, only to help another girl on the side of a road and then do her in the stolen car. Sometimes you just have to get any wherever you can! My main issue with the film is that after the car is stolen, it gets bogged down and doesn't really pick up again until the killer finds the couple. This portion could have been spiced up a bit.
The killer himself is actually a pretty intimidating fellow, what with Michel Antoine's reptilian facial features and large build, but he definitely has a lot of hell in this movie. Things just never seem to go right for him. As the greedy blackmailer, George Hilton is convincingly suave, even with the weird sideburns. These two make for a fine pair of villains.
Cozzi's direction is solid, and there are only a few small doses of the cheese that would dominate many of his later films. He employs some nifty camera tricks that he surely picked up from Argento. I also liked how he had the two very different sex scenes playing out seamlessly at the same time. In fact, that mean-spirited rape is the only real bit of nastiness on display here. Again, not the norm for a giallo, but the lack of it certainly doesn't hurt the film any.
Overall, this is a fine piece of work from a man who I originally had pegged as another Bruno Mattei. Any fan of the gialli sub-genre should be pleased, even if it isn't a giallo in the truest sense of the word. While the pacing goes off the rails at one point and the climax feels a tad anti-climatic, it's not enough to ruin things.
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