From the amount of Italian horror films I’ve reviewed, I think it is obvious that I love them… Luckily Arrow Video have been feeding my need for these movies well, and with Death Walks Twice they have given me a double dose of pleasure, as this set features two films from Luciano Ercoli: Death in High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight – two films that may be a little dated, but to giallo fans like myself, I doubt this will be an issue.
Death Walks in High Heels features Nieves Navarro as Nicole an exotic dancer. The daughter of a murdered jewel thief she finds herself stalked by a man in black hunting for the stolen gems. Fleeing from Paris, can she escape from her assailant? In Death Walks at Midnight, Navarro returns, this time playing a model who takes part in a drug fuelled photo shoot. While hallucinating she witnesses the brutal murder in an apartment opposite her own. Finding out that the murder happened six months earlier she starts to investigate the truth behind the murder.
While both films are good, my personal choice has to be Death Walks at Midnight. This has the classic giallo feel, with Navarro’s witnessing of the murder being reminiscent of Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. As is discussed in the special features, one thing that makes Death Walks at Midnight stand out is the fact that Navarro’s character takes over the role that is normally given to a male protagonist in Giallo stories.
Death Walks in High Heels may not be as good for me personally but this doesn’t make it a bad movie. This film has a different style that focuses much more on the detective work, and puts the focus on other characters. Plus there is a certain style to Death Walks in High Heels that tips its hat to the oddness of closed communities and the weird characters you find in them. The fact we can’t point out one character as being the main protagonist also makes it something a little different.
What really stands out with both movies is that “Italian style” that often marks this type of movie out amongst the oft-imitated giallo crowd. I particularly liked how none of the shot is wasted; and many times the audience is given glimpses into two specific areas, to see the murderer fleeing while on the other side of the shot, the protagonist attempt to convince people to give chase. There is also a continental feel to the film, with plenty of shots of the beautiful locations used.
While a double bill like Death Walks Twice often could be released without special features – especially given the sheer rarity of owning titles like this on Blu-ray – thankfully Arrow Video have not let us down. Film critic Tim Lucas provides commentary for both movies, there are documentaries looking at the director’s work and also interviews with the director of the films as well as Nieves Navarro. This provides a detailed look at not only the films included in Death Walks Twice but also giallo in general.
One thing that is noticeable about Death Walks in High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight is that they are showing their age. But this isn’t too much of an issue, many Giallo movies are films of their times – as is the case with these two and this is how they should be taken. They may not be the best examples of giallo, they make for entertaining mysteries that keep you guessing till the end.
Arrow Video have done a good job with Death Walks Twice and I’m sure that fans of giallo movies will love both movies and they are great examples of Luciano Ercoli’s work. For horror fans looking for an example of Italian horror though, these may not be the best choices. Saying that, Death Walks Twice is still well worth buying and once again Arrow Video have done a very good job with this release.
Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercoli is available on Arrow Video Dual Format DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.