Written by: Andrea Bianchi (story), Massimo Felisatti (screenplay)
Directed by: Andrea Bianchi
Starring: Edwige Fenech, Nino Castelnuovo and Femi Benussi
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
"I'll give you all this money--all that I have--but promise you'll make love to me, huh?"
The title of Andrea Bianchiís 1975 giallo seemingly has nothing to do with anything; in reality, though, it has everything to do with what Bianchi set out to do with this super sleaze-show. Thereís no literal stripping for the filmís killer, but there is plenty of gratuitous disrobing, so much so that the film reaches almost parodic levels. His approach almost seems self-aware at time, as if heíd already figured out that the lurid sexuality of these films had become ridiculous. Itís almost too bad that he sows the seeds for an oddball giallo but refuses to reap them, instead opting to make a pretty standard one, albeit one with tons of gusto.
You can see that gusto within the first few scenes, which take you from a girl dying during a failed abortion, to the murder of one of the doctors, and, finally to the introduction of our hero, Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo), doing what he does best: picking up women by dangling promises of a modeling career if they allow him to shoot them. In a ridiculously transparent scene that sets the filmís tone, a girl strips for him without the least bit of convincing; sheís somehow smart enough to notice that his camera doesnít seem to be taking any pictures. Like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he lets out a devilish grin and proceeds to strip himself--and the girl is completely okay with all of this. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.
But he soon has to give his camera and his penis a rest, as he suddenly finds himself embroiled in a series of murders that have terrorized the photo agency that employs him. Along with his assistant/lover/sexpot (Edwige Fenech), he attempts to sort it all out before he finds himself on the wrong end of the killerís blade. Their investigation takes the expectedly twisty path thatís lined with blood and sex, but mostly sex. One of the more wildly perverse gialli Iíve seen, Strip Nude for Your Killer is part murder mystery, part peep show, as Bianchiís camera practically gazes at its oft-nude female subjects. Youíre almost surprised that drool doesnít seep in over the lens at some point, as the film definitely takes the position of the horde of poolside guys leering at a girl early in the movie.
The story even takes time out for a bizarre interlude involving the owner of the photo agencyís owner, a dumpy little pale-faced imp whose obsession with girls is childlike. Thereís an early scene where he canít stop staring at a girlís panties (never mind the fact that her panties shouldnít even be visible) during a police interview, and his desires get the best of him when he ostensibly kidnaps a girl and attempts to force himself on her. And thatís just scratches the surface of how outrageous this is; after his advances are refused, he threatens to murder her, so she finally just gives in and seemingly enjoys it. In fact, she even refuses his payment when he offers money once heís through, not that it takes long since his puerility extends to his sexual prowess. In short, he blows his load early and ends up clutching his blow-up; I guess this is supposed to be a red herring to prey on the expectations of sexually-repressed psychos, but it also feels like it should open up an avenue to parody the type of machismo exuded by Castelnuovo.
Bianchi isnít interested in that though; in fact, his most clever ďjokeĒ is pretty subtle and involves Fenech tossing a sheer-see through garment right at the camera, landing right on the lens. It of course fails to cover anything up, plus weíve already seen her completely naked, and it almost feels like Bianchi is slyly winking at the audience, inviting them to be in on the fact that heís completely embracing the giallo genre. We feel it in the moonlit drives through seedy streets, the swanky score, and, of course, the slick murder sequences that brim with that trademark bright crimson, Euro-horror blood. Strip Nude for Your Killer definitely hews to clichť, and aggressively so, but it also delivers them with a panache and a dash of self-aware nodding. Even when the narrative eventually degenerates to a series of clunky reveals, it still feels a bit more tightly constructed than most, perhaps because it sports only two writers instead of the usual half-dozen these things always seem to have.
Still, itís interesting to ponder the hints of a more interesting movie dangling within it somewhere. Despite all of the (admittedly expected) casual misogyny, you almost wonder for a while if this isnít some clever attempt to reclaim the giallo from the leering gaze of the masculine lens since itís so brazen. I donít think itís much of a spoiler to say the killer is female--the body type gives it away, as itís probably not the smartest choice to commit murder in a form-fitting motorcycle getup. With this in mind, I had really hoped that sheíd be fuelled by some kind of heady, feminist discontent. The fact that sheís lashing out at a photo agency that trades in objectified female flesh seems to make this a no-brainer. Itís not in the cards, though, as sheís eventually just revealed to be the typically insane shrew driven by simple vengeance.
I guess you shouldnít really expect much more from a film that opens with an ill-fated abortion and ends with a joke about forced anal penetration. In between, youíve got some of Eurohorrorís more gorgeous babes (Fenech is especially fetching) to stare at, and Bianchi gives you plenty of chances. Call this a minor giallo if you like, but Strip Nude for Your Killer is pretty good sleaze coming from an impishly warped place. We might cringe at it now, but, for better or worse, this accurately epitomizes the sexually-deranged wave of gialli, which was reaching its crescendo around this time. It would begin to roll back in the coming years, and this one probably felt perfunctory even in Ď75 after the release of Deep Red. Blue Underground released it on DVD ages ago, and itís a solid disc--the audio is an English track, but itís clearly rendered, and the print is rather pristine, with the black levels and vibrant colors being accurately represented. The onyl extras are the film's trailer and an interview with Solvi Stubing and co-writer Massiomo Felisatti, but it'll be getting a hi-def upgrade this Tuesday, March 27th. If you don't already have this on DVD, hold out for the Blu-ray and give it a look. Buy it!
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