Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano ErcoliLuciano Ercoli’s career as a film director came to fruition right at the height of the giallo boom. Having already released one thriller, Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, Ercoli hit his stride with the release of Death Walks in High Heels in 1971 and its sister film Death Walks at Midnight in 1972. Both films, although known in the giallo circuit, have remained relatively obscure due to the focus being shed on the likes of Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Sergio Martino, Umberto Lenzi and many more. In Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercoli, Arrow Video has compiled the two masterworks in a stunning 2K presentation, delivering them from the realm of obscurity for all giallo and horror fans to enjoy.

Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight have a great deal in common, and as such it is only right that the two are released as a single package. In addition to both films featuring largely the same cast in similar roles, they share a kitschy, laidback atmosphere which gives them a highly adventurous and almost farcical tone which contrasts sharply with the brutality taking place both on- and off-screen. As it happens, they are both also quite densely plotted, taking their cues not only from the giallo genre but also from soft-core erotica, madcap comedies and Spaghetti Westerns.

Death Walks on High Heels 1971
Death Walks On High Heels (1971):

Nicole (the beautiful Nieves Navarro as Susan Scott) is a beautiful French nightclub dancer who, when the movie begins, learns that her father Rochard, a professional jewel thief, was recently murdered on a train after stealing millions of dollars in diamonds and jewels. Shortly after the police inform her of this, she too is threatened by a mysterious and dangerous lunatic in a black ski mask hoping to coerce her into telling him where he dearly departed old man stashed the goods.

Nicole has no idea who the killer could be but was struck by how blue his eyes were. When she finds a pair of blue contact lenses stashed away amongst the stuff belonging to her boyfriend, Michel (Michael Aumont as Simon Andreu), she starts to wonder if he was behind it all. Worried that her life may be in danger, she gets help from Doctor Robert Matthews (Frank Wolff), an acquaintance of hers who just so happens to be an ophthalmologist! To keep her safe, he takes her back to England with him. Given that he and his wife, Vanessa (Claudie Lange), are in the midst of divorce proceedings he doesn't really seem to see anything wrong about what he's doing and even allows Nicole to pretend to be his wife while they hide out at a seaside home. Their idyllic life in hiding gets seriously rocked, however, when Michel shows and Robert is promptly shot by an unseen assailant.

Will the cops figure out who is behind all of this insanity before any more bodies start to pile up, or is Nicole doomed to live out what remains of her life in eternal fear of being murdered for her father's crimes? Only a blind man who exceptional hearing knows for sure!

BD50 + DVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTCS | 01:47:48 | 42.5 Gb + 7.81 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English, Italiano
Subtitles: English

Extras:

• Introduction by Ernesto Gastaldi (1:48). Here, Gastaldi provides a brief precis of the film’s major themes. This is in Italian, with optional English subtitles.

• Audio Commentary with Tim Lucas. Lucas demonstrates his usual attention to detail, delivering a commentary track that is filled with anecdotal information about the production and reception of the film, and engages with some of its themes too.

• From Spain with Love (24:21). Recorded in 2012, this features Luciano Ercoli and Susan Scott. Ercoli reflects on how he came to be involved in filmmaking, from humble beginnings as a runner to working as an assistant director on the films of Carlo Ponti and De Laurentiis. Scott, on the other hand, discusses her attitude to filmmaking: she wasn’t passionate about cinema but ‘had fun’ making films. The interviews are in Italian and Spanish, with optional English subtitles.

• Master of Giallo (32:33). This interview with Gastaldi was shot in 2015 and is new to this release. Gastaldi talks about his approach to writing gialli all’italiana. This is in Italian, with optional English subtitles.

• Death Walks to the Beat (26:28). This is another new interview, this time with Stelvio Cipriani, the film’s composer. He discusses the process of writing and recording the film’s score and the use of a vocal track in the film’s main theme, performed by Nora Orlandi. This is in Italian, with optional English subtitles.

• Trailers (5:38)

Death Walks at Midnight 1972
Death Walks At Midnight (1972):

Death Walks At Midnight was director Luciano Ercoli's follow up to the success of 1970's Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion and 1971's Death Walks On High Heels. Like its predecessors, the film proves to be an interesting and stylishly made thriller despite the absence of any truly over the top sex or violence (two staples of the Giallo sub-genre) save for a particularly grisly and fairly ruthless opening murder set piece.

In the film, a foxy supermodel type named Valentina (Nieves Navarro) is duped into trying a new experimental drug that has similar effects to those of LSD. She's given the drug and agrees to be a guinea pig and allow herself to be recorded on the condition that she remains anonymous. The tests begin and while under the drug she hallucinates that she sees a woman being brutally murdered by a man in some huge sunglasses with a spiky metal glove.

To her dismay, it turns out that she was photographed and that the findings of the experiment are made public in a scandalous newspaper article. Once this information is made public she finds that the man she saw in her hallucination is now stalking her in the real world. Not only that, but the police are starting to give her a hard time about some recent developments going on around town related to the murder she describes from her hallucination.

BD50 + DVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTCS | 01:41:50 | 46.3 Gb + 7.73 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English, Italiano
Subtitles: English

Extras:

• Introduction by screenwriter Gastaldi (1:57). This is in Italian, with optional English subtitles.

• Audio Commentary with Tim Lucas. This is as well-researched as Lucas' commentary for the first film in this set.

• Death Walks at Midnight: TV Version (1:46:04 ). This alternate English language cut of the film incorporates some footage not included in the theatrical cut.

• Crime Does Pay (32:02). In another newly-shot interview with Gastaldi, the screenwriter talks about how he came to work in films and talks about his abortive career as a director. He discusses his work with Sergio Leone and his work writing Westerns, before reflecting on the writing of some of the other films for which he is known. This is in Italian, with optional English subtitles.

• Desperately Seeking Susan (27:53). This new video essay, written and narrated by Michael Mackenzie, reflects on the examples of the thrilling all’italiana in which Susan Scott starred. Mackenzie begins by discussing the woman-in-peril giallo all’italiana more generally before examining Scott’s films, describing Scott as ‘the anti-Edwige Fenech’.

Related posts:

  1. Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cats: Two Adaptations by Sergio Martino & Lucio Fulci: Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key / Il tuo vizio e una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave (1972) + The Black Cat / Gatto nero (1981) Arrow Video 4-Disc Limited Special Edition [Blu-Ray + DVD]
  2. Sei donne per l’assassino / Six Women for the Murderer / Blood and Black Lace (1964) Arrow Video 3-Disc Edition
  3. The Jacques Rivette Collection: Out 1, noli me tangere (1971), Out 1: Spectre (1972), Duelle (une quarantaine) (1976), Noroit (une vengeance) (1976), Merry-Go-Round (1981) 8 x Blu-Ray Arrow Academy Limited Edition
  4. Bride of Re-Animator (1989) Arrow Video 3-Disc Limited Edition
  5. The Complete Dr Phibes: The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) 2 x Blu-Ray Limited edition