June 23: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is gialo! We’re excited to tackle a different genre every day, so check back and see what’s next.
Death Occurred Last Night (also known as Death Took Place Last Night and Horror Came out of the Fog) was based on the Giorgio Scerbanenco novel Milanesi Ammazzano al Sabato (The Milanese Kill on Saturdays) and was directed by Duccio Tessari, who co-wrote A Fistful of Dollars before making his name with A Pistol for Ringo and The Return of Ringo. More to the interest of those who love black gloves and switchblades, he made The Bloodstained Butterfly and Puzzle. He co-wrote the script with Biagio Proietti, who was also the writer of The Killer Reserved Nine Seats and Fulci’s The Black Cat. Tessari even wrote the lyrics to two of the songs in this movie!
Avanzio Berzaghi (Raf Vallone) has come to Milan to find his runaway daughter and works to solve the case himself — much like an Italy proto-Hardcore — at the very same time that detective Duca Lamberti (Frank Wolff) — a character who also appears in the movies Caliber 9 and Cran d’arrêt — and his partner Mascaranti (Gabriele Tinti, husband of Laura Gemser) investigate the seamier side of the city. They finally find her body in a field, burned beyond all recognition. Now, all Berzaghi has left is seeking out revenge that will never be enough.
The film also shows flashbacks of Berzaghi’s relationship with his daughter Donatella (Gillian Bray), a three-year-old child in the body of a fully grown woman with the needs that go with the physical maturity of a twenty-five-year-old. As she lusts after nearly every man she sees, her father had intended to keep her locked up after the death of his wife, but that plan obviously fails.
A cross between giallo and poliziottecschi — each of the two storylines takes each of the genre to heart and then meet at the end — this is a film that doesn’t take its cues from Argento — it was made the same year as The Bird With the Crystal Plumage — and emerges as a unique take on the form with an even more unique soundtrack by Gianni Ferrio which doesn’t sound like any other giallo score — it doesn’t sound like any other music from a film at all — and often puts people off on this movie. Not me.
Speaking of Bird, Lamberti’s wife is played by Eva Renzi, who is so important to Argento’s film. She’s incredible here, not just the most fashionable person in the movie, but her relationship with her policeman husband is one of equal standing.
Want to discover some more giallo? Check out my list of three hundred plus psychosexual murder movies right here.