Nude… si muore (1968)

Naked…You Die (AKA The Young, the Evil and the Savage) is a pretty fun early giallo with good direction by Antonio Margheriti.

Yet it was very nearly was a Mario Bava movie.

According to Tim Lucas’ Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, Bava was hired by Lawrence Woolner — the distributor of Hercules in the Haunted World and Blood and Black Lace in America — to direct a movie about a killer stalking a school. Cry Nightmare was going to be the title and Bava wrote the script with Brian Degas and Tudor Gates (BarbarellaDanger: Diabolik).

Lamberto Bava told Lucas that “Just a short time before the filming was to begin, Mario Bava had an argument with the producers and he abandoned the film.” As for Margheriti, who met Woolner when he distributed Castle of Blood, he said “I think Mario was busy at that time, working on Diabolik or something.”

Either way, locations were already secured, cast and crew had been hired and a theme song had already been recorded.

The drowned body of a woman is placed in a truck going to St. Hilda College. There, only seven students, two teachers — Mrs. Clay (Ludmilla Lvova) and Mr. Barrett (Mark Damon — Headmistress Transfield (Vivian Stapleton) and gardener La Foret (Luciano Pigozzi) are present.

Soon, the killing begins with Betty Ann being strangled and found by Lucille (Eleonora Brown in her last film until coming out of retirement in 2018), who is having an affair with Barrett. When she tells him to come see the body, it’s already gone, so they decide to leave the school.

The killings kick into gear with Cynthia (Malisa Longo, Ricco the Mean Machine) being killed in front of the gardener, who is soon killed as well and Denise (Patrizia Valturri) too. There’s also amateur detective Gillie (Sally Smith) on the case and Inspector Durand (Michael Renne from The Day the Earth Stood Still) trying to stop the killings.

All the girls wear similar uniforms — and outfits that change scene by scene — and nobody wonders why an older teacher can play Big Bad Wolf with Little Red Riding Hood and get away with it.

The aforementioned theme song “Nightmare” by Powell and Savina (Don Powell, who played Emanuelle’s father in Black Emanuelle 2 and did that film’s soundtrack, along with Carlo Savina, who composed the music for The Killer Reserved Nine SeatsLisa and the DevilFangs of the Living Dead and so many more) and performed by Rose Brennan owes royalties to Neal Hefti.

Perhaps even wilder is the fact that the movie informs us that Gillie may be the daughter of James Bond.

Giallo would change in a few years to be bloody, sleazier and stranger. That said, this is a great example of an early version of this style of movie.

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