• Suspicious Death Of A Minor, The



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: October 3rd, 2017.
    Director: Sergio Martino
    Cast: Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer, Gianfranco Barra, Patrizia Castaldi
    Year: 1965
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    The Movie:

    When Sergio Martin’s Suspicious Death Of A Minor begins, Marisa (Patrizia Castaldi) is hanging out at a dance where she meets Detective Paolo Germi (Martino regular Claudio Cassinelli of Island Of The Fishmen and The Great Alligator). She’s not nearly as interested in him as he is in her but she pretends to be so that she can escape from the man in the mirrored sunglasses who is chasing her. She escapes but later that night he meets her at her apartment and slits her throat.

    From there, an investigation is soon underway with Germi fast teaming himself up with a petty thief named Teti (Gianfranco Barra of Steno’s excellent Execution Squad). Through a series of undercover cons they discover a prostitution racket specializing in younger, underage girls. While this is going on, a local politician’s son is kidnapped – it seems that things are getting out of hand and quickly. Germi and Teti start using whatever means they deem necessary to try and crack the prostitution ring open, even if it means pissing off their boss (played by Mel Ferrer of Umberto Lenzi’s Eaten Alive). The closer they get to figuring out who is behind it all the more dangerous things get for the unlikely duo.

    So what exactly is this movie? Is it a giallo? The opening throat slashing scene and a couple of other grisly murder set pieces would seem to confirm this. But there’s a lot of police work and a couple of chase sequences here too, indicating that maybe this was meant to be an Italian crime film. Adding to the confusion are a few scenes that were obviously intended for comedic relief, such as much of the interaction between Germi and Teti, as well as a few odd moments of physical comedy. A good example of this is a scene where a car whips around the corner and sends a pedestrian into a head-spin that would make Turbo and Boogaloo Shrimp green with envy. Is Martino playing this straight or is he poking fun at the two genres for which he’s best known? There’s a scene in the film where the investigation leads our two heroes to a theater. Inside, the patrons are watching Your Vice Is A Locked Door But Only I Have The Key – one of Martino’s best known giallos. What makes this interesting is that no one in the theater really seems to be paying attention to the movie. They’re more interested in making out in the dark. Whatever Martino’s intentions were, there’s no doubt that here that, along with regular co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi, he has crafted a truly odd film, albeit one that’s seriously entertaining.

    Despite the erratic nature of the story and the execution, however, The Suspicious Death Of A Minor works well. The comedic bits haven’t aged so well and many of them feel corny but the murders are handled with a nice sense of malicious style and the car chase scenes are exciting and fast paced. Cassinelli makes for a suave lead despite (and sometimes because of) the arrogance that his character exudes. He’s perfectly capable of carrying the film. Ferrer’s supporting role is also fun and the girls who make up many of the supporting characters are not only fun to look at but they also seem to fit the parts they play quite well. The weak link in the chain is Barra, but again, it’s not so much his fault as it is the fault of the dated comedy in the film. When it’s time for the action and suspense scenes he actually fares quite well.

    In the end, The Suspicious Death Of A Minor is a strange mish-mash of genres that falls into a few different categories of Italian exploitation without confining itself to one specific genre. It’s got style, tension, gratuitous nudity and J&B bottles, and a few nice murders – that should be enough to satiate most fans.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Suspicious Death Of A Minor arrives on Blu-ray framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition from a new 2k scan of the original 35mm negative. The image is nice and film-like, retaining a natural amount of grain without looking too dirty or noisy. Detail is quite nicely improved over the previous DVD release from Sazuma (this writer’s only point of reference for the film) as is texture and color reproduction. In fact, some of the close up shots really show off how good a proper HD transfer can look. There are no noticeable compression artifacts to complain about and the image is free of any noise reduction or edge enhancement related issues. The picture is also pretty clean, showing no noticeable print damage outside of the occasional small white speck here and there.

    Arrow provides both Italian and English language tracks in LPCM Mono, with English subtitles translating the Italian track and English SDH for the English track. There’s not a massive difference in quality between the two tracks, they both sound pretty solid, but it’s worth noting that Ferrer did his own dubbing for his character on the English track.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring Troy Howarth in which he discusses the films genre hopping super powers, how it abides by certain rules while breaking others and the evolution of the plot as it pertains to these aspects of the movie. He also details who did what in the film, offers up plenty of trivia about the cast and crew involved in the picture, lends insight into the locations and makes some observations about the score and a fair bit more. He also discusses Martino’s directing style and compares this film to others that the filmmaker was responsible for over the span of his fairly lengthy career. It’s a solid track, some good information in here.

    Also included on the disc are new interviews with director Sergio Martino that runs forty three minutes in length. Here he discusses the film’s seemingly random nature but makes the case for it, noting that he was trying to think outside the box directorially speaking. He also offers up some decent anecdotes on the production and the cast that he worked with on the film.

    It’s also worth noting that if you choose the English version from the main menu , you’ll get English language opening and closing credits/titles (under the alternate Too Young To Die title) and if you choose the Italian language track you’ll get Italian language credits/titles. It might seem like a small thing but it’s a nice touch and it serves to make the package more complete.

    As this is a combo pack release a DVD version of the movie with the same extra features that are found on the Blu-ray disc is also included inside the clear keepcase. Accompanying the two discs is some nice reversible sleeve art, a cardboard slipcover and, in the first pressing, a full color insert booklet containing credits for the feature and the Blu-ray as well as a new essay on the film written by Barry Forshaw.

    The Final Word:

    A rather elusive and completely off the wall giallo/polizieschi hybrid, The Suspected Death Of A Minor gets its Blu-ray debut in grand style thanks to Arrow who have awarded the film an excellent transfer and some very nice extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





























    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      This one had skipped my attention. Thanks for the review. sounds interesting. Definitely will pick this up.
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