“s a pretty great tagline. This is kind of a sleeper of a film.
Armand Mastroianni (He Knows You’re Alone, The Supernaturals, plenty of stuff for the Hallmark Channel like their Pandemic mini-series) made this one and while he has an Italian name, he was born in Brooklyn. But the roots of this film are firmly in the world of the giallo, at least the later fantastic era and less in the early detective films.
Handcuffed bodes have been showing up all over New York City — yes, the end of the world NYC as seen in films like The Eyes of Laura Mars and The New York Ripper — which leads talk show host Paul “Mac” McCormack (Perry King) and police detective/stand-up comedian Larry Weeks (Norman Parker) to team up. They soon meet Virna Nightbourne (He Knows You’re Alone, Sticky Fingers), an art student whose work somehow perfectly captures details of the crimes that even the police don’t know.
I mean, in case if you’re wondering, as I always do, “Is this a giallo?” just the idea that a cop is also a comedian and the name Virna NIghtbourne should tell you all that you need to know.
Virna is able to basically switch off her brain and free her hand to draw whatever it wants, a talent that led her to rescue a young girl named Elizabeth many years ago. The police have to tell her the horrible news that Elizabeth was one of the Handcuff Killer’s victims, which is a strange coincidence or because this is a giallo.
Now, Virna is having dreams of being tied to a bed and murdered, turning that scene into her art. At the same time, other people who were close to Elizabeth, like a male prostitute, are being killed and even Mac is attacked in his apartment by a man paid to attack him. He’s shot by the police before he can give them any further answers.
Somehow, our heroine begins dating both men and stands up Mac one night to see Larry perform stand-up (it’s the comic strip and you can see Dennis Wolfberg’s act) when she gets a call that the killer has her roommate tied up to a car and plans on murdering her. She runs outside and is nearly hit by the Handcuff Killer’s car.
Mac brings Virna on his show and she starts to draw a murder that is paralleled by Muriel being murdered by being handcuffed and bound before being placed in a car that crashes into the river. She’s gotten too close, so she’s kept with Mac, but the drawings, when analyzed, show that she’s not out of danger yet.
The clues all make sense in this — American giallo feels the need to explain things a bit better than their Italian counterparts — and it gets pretty boring before the psychic parts come out. Then again, ask yourself: how many old Hollywood romantic triangles infused into a police procedural with giallo elements are you going to find? Throw some Perry King in as the smoldering sizzle on the steak and hey, you won’t be too upset that you spent time watching this.