Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Spooktacular # 1: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

This film didn’t hold up quite as well as I’d remembered it being, and I suspect this may be a fairly common problem among gialli. After all, so much time is spent on the mystery of whodunit in each one that, when you watch it already knowing, it decreases the value a bit. Still, while I no longer consider this to be far and away the best giallo I’ve seen, it still ranks as a superior entry in the genre.

The plot, while still noticeably giallified, is actually a bit different than normal. An American vacationing in Italy witnesses a woman being stabbed in the lobby of an apartment building, and, while stuck in between the glass walls at the entrance, manages to attract a crowd and get the police to arrive before the dark figure who stabbed her can finish her off. Naturally, his position as a witness cannot be tolerated, and so the killer begins to try to finish him off as well. What follows is a number of great twists and turns, as we slowly assemble a pile of clues about the killer that are mostly taken from a few threatening phone calls made to our hero’s apartment. Where the film really shines is during a few scenes of incredible tension, such as a grand chase through the streets and an auto yard, with someone shooting at him who may or may not be the killer, or another, even more powerful scene, when he decides to do one last bit of sleuthing before he and his girlfriend fly back to America, only for his girlfriend to be targeted. These moments are as tense as anything you’ll find in any Hitchcock film.

This is about as useful as he gets the whole film.

The main problem here, that brings its score down a bit, is the incredibly wooden acting of our lead. Tony Musante, known for pretty much nothing else of note outside of this movie, delivers a terrible performance. Granted, the acting isn’t really the main highlight of a giallo, but all the same he does bring the movie down a good bit. Outside of him, though, the movie is still golden. You should definitely check it out.

Rating: *** ½

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