Death Walks at Midnight (1972)

Nieves Navarro is a true queen of giallo, appearing in All the Colors of the Dark, Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, So Sweet, So Dead and Death Walks on High Heels. Here, she makes her second film with her husband, Luciano Ercoli.

In this one, she plays a fashion model named Valentina who agrees to help her journalist beau study LSD. But while she’s dosed and in the middle of a photo shoot, she watches a man brutally murder a woman with a spiked gauntlet. He thinks she’s just hallucinating and publishes her account, but she believes it’s real. And when the killer starts stalking her, she really starts to worry.

The entire opening of the film is one big acid freakout and everything that follows is the bad trip, the comedown and reality brutally intruding into drugged out bliss. This is a film packed with brutal violence and plenty of gore, but it makes sense. The movie demands it.

The end, when everything is wrapped up by the killer (killers?) is pretty great, as the many red herrings are discussed and the entire plot is finally explained to us. If everything before felt like a nightmare, this is bracingly cold water directly to the face.

Even better, Navarro portrays a heroine who doesn’t faint at the first sign of danger. She deals with the ineffectual police and indifference of her boyfriend with aplomb.

And yes — this film is packed with bonkers crazy fashion — a metal/glass silver wig and a strange sculpted wall feature prominently — so if that’s why you love giallo, you’ll be quite happy here. Me? I loved every minute.

If you want to watch it, it’s on Shudder.

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