Franco Ferrini, who wrote Opera, Phenomena, Nothing Underneath, Dial: Help, The Church and Sleepless (as well as many more films) joined up with Gabriella Blasi and director Eros Puglielli to turn the Luca Di Fulvio novel The Empailleur into a modern giallo.
While hunting a cultured, intelligent and vicious psychopath — yes, I realize that sounds like The Silence of the Lambs — Inspector Amaldi must face the moral decline of humanity and his own dark past.
A young couple and the pervert watching them have both been killed, leading Amaldi and his partner Freese down all manner of paths with no success. At the same time, a college student is being stalked and turns to the young inspector for help.
Amaldi struggles with his temper and the need to punish the guilty while slowly realizing that he is hunting a serial killer who is taking the parts of a doll and replacing the parts of his victims that he has taken away.
Unlike so many modern giallo that attempt to simply emulate the past and not move into the future, Eyes of Crystal pushes past comparisons to Se7en to become a movie worthy of its own study. The human doll is a sinister concept, as is what happened to a doll in the past. Unlike other giallo, the cops aren’t fumbling in the dark or buffoons. They’re also dealing with perhaps just as many demons as the killers they face every day.
Bonus genre points for casting Simon Andreu (Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, Death Walks on High Heels) as a dying cop also haunted by his past, which he remembers as an inferno that destroyed the orphanage where he grew up, a place that has just been robbed of some very peculiar surgical instruments.
If only this movie had reignited a trend that would lead us to more Italian thrillers quite this good!