• Wife Killer, The



    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: August 18th, 2015.
    Director: Kostas Karagiannis (as Dacosta Carayan)
    Cast: Larry Daniels, Dorothy Moore, Vagelis Seilinos, Jane Paterson, Leslie Bowman, Dimitris Bislanis
    Year: 1976
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Kostas Karagiannis in 1976 (and alternately known as Rape Killer and released on VHS in the United States under the title Death Kiss), this film introduces us to a businessman named Jim (Larry Daniels a.k.a. Lakis Komninos) who is less interested in making time with his attractive wife Helen (Dorothy Moore) than he is in knocking her off. Why? So that he can run off with his pretty young plaything Laura (Jane Paterson).

    What none of those characters realize is that a guy named Mike (Vagelis Seilinos) is running about causing trouble. How? By pulling pantyhose over his face and stabbing away at couples as they go about their clandestine lovemaking out a various ‘lovers lane’ type locations. When Jim figures out who this guy is and what he does, he offers to cut Mike in on good chunk of what he’ll stand to inherit if Helen should wind up dead – which seems like a win/win for both men – and so they come up with a plan. Jim will get roughed up to make it look like he tried to defend his wife but Mike has more on his mind than making Jim happy. When he finds a woman who might as well be Helen’s doppelganger, Jim soon learns that Mike has got plans of his own, and that maybe trusting a serial killer to do his dirty work for him was a bad idea.

    This is a moderately sleazy little thriller pulling together Giallo-esque exploitative elements and combining them with an interesting Hitchcockian storyline. At just under ninety-minutes it moves at a pretty brisk pace and features a colorful cast of effectively suspicious characters well played by the different cast members featured here. Vagelis Seilinos is the scene stealer of the bunch, he plays his sex maniac with a good bit of enthusiasm that, if a bit overzealous, works in the context of what Karagiannis would seem to have been going for here. Larry Daniels and Dorothy Moore, once again teaming up with the director (they made Tango Of Perversion together two years prior), are appropriately dislikable in their respective roles. Daniels plays the self-entitled philandering playboy well – we’re not supposed to like him, and we don’t, so there’s a bit of karmic retribution of sorts once his plans backfire on him.

    The movie isn’t as balls-out trashy as it probably could have been but it’s still got a good bit of sexy, murderous mayhem to offer fans. More interesting than the seedy side of the movie is the time capsule aspect of the production. The Greek locations are ripe with mid-seventies quirk and charm. There’s all sorts of loud, colorful fashion on display and plenty of super cool mod décor to geek out over if you tend to geek out over things like that (I do).

    So yeah, this is fairly stylish, sleazy enough to make you take notice and fairly well acted too. The story has a nice twist or two going for it and the movie’s got a pretty stand out score (composed by Yannis Spanos). Fans of Giallos and sleazy thrillers should find a lot to like in this one.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Mondo Macabro debuts The Wife Killer on DVD in its proper 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio and while some color fading is noticeable from the source materials used, the transfer is otherwise pretty solid. Black levels are good, detail is decent and all in all, the movie is more than watchable even if the elements available prevent it from hitting reference quality levels.

    Audio options are provided in Greek and English tracks (though when the English track is chosen, for those scenes that were never dubbed for this uncut version the audio reverts to Greek with English subtitles) with optional subtitles available in English only. No problems here – the audio sounds fine, the levels are well balanced and any hiss that might creep into the mix is minor.

    The main extra on the disc is a twenty-four minute long featurette called Sunshine And Shadows that allows Greek film critic and musician Akis Kapranos wax nostalgic about the Greek exploitation filmmaking scene. Kaparnos’ insight is complimented by an impressive collection of cover and poster art from various releases as well as some pretty tantalizing clips. This is interesting, entertaining and a nice addition to the disc (it was also included on the DVD release of Tango Of Perversion).

    Aside from that we get an insightful essay on the history of the film, a trailer for the feature under the Rape Killer moniker and a trailer under the alternate Death Kiss title and the alternate English language opening credits created for the US VHS release. Cast and crew bios, a separate essay on the movie’s connections to the real life crime that inspired it, menus and chapter selection round out the supplements – save for the omnipresent Mondo Macabro preview reel (it’s a crime to pop in a Mondo Macabro disc and not give this a watch).

    The Final Word:

    The Wife Killer is quirky, sleazy and pretty entertaining. It’s got some appreciable seventies style and a few good twists that compliment a couple of memorable performances and a pretty great score. Mondo Macabro does the movie justice with strong uncut presentation and some quality extras too.