Someone is killing (mostly) beautiful ladies by first paralyzing them with an acupuncture needle, then gutting them. The method ensures that they are aware of what is happening to them, and mirrors the way in which a certain type of wasp kills tarantulas. Police Inspector Tellini (Giancarlo Giannini) is trying to solve the murders while he struggles with feeling like he is unsuited for the job. The only thing the victims seems to have in common is that they all frequent the same day spa. What the fuck is going on?
This is undoubtedly a giallo. At first I was confused, because I thought Giannini acted in real movies. I soon found out that, with a plot that makes sense, sly intentional humor, and a lack of either obnoxious foley footsteps or tacky apartments, this one is that rare giallo that is also a real movie.
An early kill provides real terror as the killer slashes their way into the room through a curtain and confronts the victim in a room full of mannequins. The victim grabs on to the knife blade and holds on in her attempt to fight off the killer.
Another tense scene involves Tellini and an entomologist who is smuggling cocaine disguised as sand in little clear boxes with deadly tarantulas, knowing no customs inspector will stick their hand in the box. Tellini recognizes the powder and makes the man open the box; the nerd rage is strong as the man looks as if he has been asked to open the package of an original Star Wars action figure. You know as he picks up the spider with his tongs that he is going to fling it at the cop, but you don’t know when.
As a former masseuse, I have to point out that I enjoyed the fact that people get massages in a movie in which the inspector’s wife has forward head posture and a P.I. who calls himself “the Catapult” (something to do with his method of moving investigations along) has a frozen neck like Ed Sullivan’s. I’m sure these situations weren’t intentional on the part of the filmmaker or even noticed by anyone but me.
I also have to point out that Giannini looks really cute in this, and his mustache is fab, as you can see here.
But I’m not sure who has a better ‘stache, him or this lady.
As always, though, when confronted with the unblinking cruelty in a giallo, I have to ask myself why I watch them. I could not care fuck all about how a spider dies, but seeing it happen to people should be a little hard to take. However, for one, making arguments against giallos was played out thirty years ago when I was in elementary school and hadn’t even seen one yet. For another thing, I’ve saturated myself so much with 70s Euro horror that the only thing that ever jars me anymore is seeing people die after being run over by one of their tiny cars. Best of all, the genre reminds me that I’m not that crazy; everyone gets slighted from time to time by incomprehensibly beautiful women, but most of us manage not to destroy them in diabolical fashion.