Cold Eyes of Fear (1971)

Nearly every Italian exploitation director tried their hands at the giallo, but Enzo G. Castellari is probably better known for making seven movies with Franco Nero (High CrimeStreet LawCry, Onion!KeomaThe Shark HunterDay of the Cobra and Jonathan of the Bears) as well as The Inglorious BastardsHouse by the Edge of the LakeThe Last Shark and a trilogy of outstanding armageddon films: 1990: The Bronx WarriorsEscape from the Bronx and The New Barbarians.

This would be his only giallo, written with Tito Carpi after being inspired by the all-in-one-apartment feel of Wait Until Dark as well as The Boys in the Band and The Desperate Hours, which explains its alternate title Desperate Moments.

When Peter Flower (Gianni Garko, Sartana in my mind forever) picks up the gorgeous Anna (Giovanna Ralli, What Have They Done to Your Daughters?) — or maybe hires her? — and takes her back to his uncle Juez’s (Fernando Rey) house. He doesn’t realize that Arthur Welt (Frank Wolff) and Quill (Julián Mateos) have been stalking the house, as the uncle was the judge who sent them all to jail.

An American star who stayed in Europe to act in tons of movies — thanks to the advice of Roger Corman — Wolff would sadly kill himself weeks after finishing this film. His wife wrote the American dialogue, as this was filmed for foreign audiences, but then she left him. He was clinically depressed; she found another man; he found a younger women who supposedly didn’t return his affection. He literally cut his carotid artery with two razors. He was in tons of great movies — Once Upon a Time In the WestCarnal CircuitDeath Walks On High Heels — and it makes seeing him in this quite sad.

Welt dresses as a cop and continually tells Peter that they are both above Anna and Quill. After all, they both drink J&B, right? That makes them a higher class. By the end of the movie, he’s totally unhinged and that makes sense, as his wife left him during the shooting and he never recovered.

This starts with a scene that seems giallo — a gorgeous woman is menaced with a switchblade — but that’s the first plot twist as this is simply an S&M show. It also has full on jazz freakout music by Ennio Morricone and Castellari pulling off insane things like shooting scenes through glasses of ice. It slows down for some parts, but the sum is greater than the parts, so I ended up really being entertained.

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