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Ghost Canyon

'Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercoli'
(Frank Wolff, Nieves Navarro, Simon Andreu, et al / Blu ray / R / 2016 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Emerging at the peak of the giallo boom of the early 70s, Luciano Ercoli's 'Death Walks ...' films are two superlative examples of the genre linked by their shared casting of the stunning Nieves Navarro (billed under her adopted stage name of Susan Scott) as the lead woman in peril.

Blu ray Verdict: In 'Death Walks on High Heels' (1971), exotic dancer Nicole (Navarro), the daughter of a murdered jewel thief, finds herself terrorized by a black-clad assailant determined on procuring her father s stolen gems. Fleeing Paris and her knife-wielding pursuer, Nicole arrives in London only to discover that death stalks her at every corner.

For my humble money, this is a great giallo, albeit with a very convoluted, but highly enjoyable plot! Oh, and plenty of style to burn, of course. The setting is pretty unique and the movie makes the unusual but interesting decision of killing off an important character halfway through. It does run out of gas a little at the end, but it's still pretty damn satisfying.

The leads are all good, especially the sexy Nieves Navarro, director Luciano Ercoli's real-life wife. Navarro turned in really good performances in her husband's other movies ('Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion' and the other of the two movies in this set, 'Death Walks at Midnight')and was scrumptious bit of tail in everybody else's ('The Slasher is a Sex Maniac', 'Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals,' etc.)

Here she is really good AND a scrumptious bit of tail. She was probably the hottest Spanish actress of the era with the exception of Soledad Miranda (who was a good ten years younger). But I digress. The new Blu-ray remaster of this film looks great, incredible even, and so is, without a shadow of a doubt, so very highly recommended.

Returning in 'Death Walks at Midnight' (1972), Navarro stars as Valentina a model who, in the midst of a drug-fuelled photoshoot, witnesses a brutal murder in the apartment opposite hers. But when it becomes clear that the savage slaying she describes relates to a crime that took place six months earlier, the police are at a loss - forcing Valentina to solve the mystery alone.

Written by no less that six (6) writers, among them Sergio Corbucci and Ernesto Gastaldi, 'Death Walks At Midnight' is set in Milan. Valentina (Susan Scott / Nieves Navarro), a successful model, agrees to try a hallucinogenic drug as part of a scientific experiment. While under the influence she experiences some flashbacks of a man in sunglasses graphically murdering a woman with a spiked metal glove, quite an original murder weapon.

Strangely enough, a woman was butchered in exactly the same manner in a vacant apartment. The killer lures Valentina into this apartment after which she narrowly escapes with her life. What follows are more attempts on her life and even more questions about the killer's identity.

Mind-bending drugs and outrageous fashions with plenty of tacky '70s dance floor scenes abound in this in this convoluted murder mystery. In truth, and again, in my humble opinion, this one is the weakest entry in Luciano Ercoli's Giallo-cycle, but I cannot dismiss it either. It's rather disappointing because of its confusing plot and ridiculous finale, complete with a gang of giggling thugs. Gianno Ferrio's score is no patch on Morricone's scores in earlier Ercoli films, but its sheer luridness makes for some reasonably tacky entertainment. Again, highly recommended and a great fun night in with friends if you watch as a double bill - which, of course, you should! These are both High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas
Introduction to the film by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
Newly-edited archive interview with director Luciano Ercoli and actress Nieves Navarro
Master of Giallo brand new interview in which Gastaldi discusses Death Walks on High Heels and offers up his thoughts as to what constitutes a good giallo
An interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani
Original Italian trailer
Original English trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

Audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas
Introduction to the film by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
Extended TV version of the feature [105 mins]
Crime Does Pay brand new interview in which Gastaldi discusses Death Walks at Midnight and a career script-writing crime films
Desperately Seeking Susan a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the distinctive giallo collaborations between director Luciano Ercoli and star Nieves Navarro
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

Limited Edition boxed-set (3000 copies) containing Death Walks on High Heels and Death Walks at Midnight
Brand new 2K restorations of the films from the original camera negatives
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
Limited Edition 60-page booklet containing new writing from authors Danny Shipka (Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France), Troy Howarth (So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films) and writer Leonard Jacobs, illustrated with original archive stills and posters