BRUNO MATTEI WEEK: Omicidio al Telefono (1994)

Murder on the Phone finds a homicidal clown named Codino who is obsessed with killing the women of phone sex lines. If you say, “That sounds a lot like the plot of 1989’s Out of the Dark,” well, perhaps Bruno Mattei — using the name Frank Klox — would like you to know that that movie stole the giallo from his homeland.

Two policewomen, Lorena Baldini (Carla Salerno, who also appears in Tinto Brass’ Paprika and Mattei’s Legittima Vendettaand Consuela Calani (Stefania Mega, who was the runner-up for Miss Italy 1989 annd was also in Legittima Vendetta, leading me to believe that in true Mattei style they were shot at the same time), are trying to find out who the killer is, which mainly means that they start working at the phone sex line and hang out at an “erotic disco.” This is beyond movie logic. This is softcore giallo erotic thriller movie logic.

While disco dancing, they pick up men with the ulterior motive of taking fingerprints from their cocktail glasses. Also, because Lorena is the consummate professional — which let’s face it, the bar for being a giallo cop is very low — she begins dating two of the men she meets, Massimo Alberici (Antonio Zequila, who worked with Mattei on Body and Soul, Dangerous AttractionMadness, both Belle da Morire movies and, you guessed it, Legittima Vendetta) and Dante Ranieri (Pascal Persiano, Demons 2Paganini Horror).

The partners start to argue because Massimo is one of their suspects and Consuelo has somewhat of a level head, arguing that her fellow cop could be crashing the custard truck with a killer. There are some giallo red herrings, as Lorena finds some record albums in his house that she knows came from the crime scenes. She goes as far as to steal her lover’s personal papers to learn more about him. And oh yeah, remember what I said about Consuelo being professional? Well, she ends up sleeping with one of her phone sex clients, which I assume is something that has never happened outside of the scope of movies that Cinemax plays after 1 AM. Well, right after she gets finished loading the clown in the cannon, the killer clown finds her right outside the young man’s hallway and takes her out of the picture.

This takes our heroine out of the arms of Massimo and into the embrace of Dante, who go figure, starts acting like Ron Silver in Blue Steel, becoming obsessed with her gun until she kills him. It’s a happy ending, because in the Italian giallo police department, there’s no such thing as internal affairs or being held accountable for your shoddy policework.

Mattei directed this movie for Ninì Grassia, who he had also directed three mainstream films starring Ileana “Ramba” Carusio, an adult star who was so popular that she had her own series of comic books.

Originally called The Killer…Is On the Phone, Mattei disliked this movie so much that he pretty much walked away from it, using the Frank Klok name for the one and only time instead of one of his more well-known aliases like Vincent Dawn or Pierre Le Blanc.

You have no idea how much work I put into finding this movie. I’d like to think it was worth it, because finding one more Mattei film — actually this led me to three more of the films he did with Nini Grassia! — is like discovering one more gift that was forgotten in your Christmas stocking.

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