• Forgotten Gialli Volume One (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 26th, 2019.
    Director: León Klimovsky/Javier Aguirre/Helia Colombo
    Cast: Ágata Lys, Heinrich Starhemberg, Ricardo Merino, Isabel Pisano, Patty Shepard, Simón Andreu, José María Prada, Jack Taylor, Paul Naschy, Joseph Arkim, Francisco Cortéz, Gabriella Giorgelli, Elena Veronese
    Year: 1978/1973/1978
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    Forgotten Gialli Volume One – Movie Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome delivers three legitimately obscure ‘forgotten gialli’ in an impressive boxed set collection.


    Daniel (Heinrich Starhemberg) is a strange looking guy who sports an ascot. He’s also a writer looking to find the perfect spot to get away from it all so that he can start work on his latest masterpiece. He decides that a very remote bed and breakfast run by a woman named Veronica (Ágata Lys) would be just the place to get his work done and so he rents a room from her for a little while. He soon learns that Veronica’s behavior is more than a little unusual, and that she spends much of her time taking care of her husband, a man stuck in a wheelchair and who seems to live his entire life in one room, with the door always closed. Daniel never sees the man.

    Seclusion soon turns to murder, however, when someone clad in black gloves starts running about with a straight-razor doing what maniacs with straight-razors tend to do in genre picture. As various guests indulge themselves in pleasures of the flesh, the killer continues to strike – but the bodies and all evidence of the late guests’ existence tends to very suddenly disappear!

    Low on scares but high on sleaze, Trauma is a reasonably stylish nudity-laden giallo that never feels particularly original but which delivers enough sex and violence to satisfy. It’s nicely shot and does a good job of taking advantage of some interesting and scenic locations, even while containing most of the action to the bed and breakfast setting. It’s rife with loud seventies fashions and garish color schemes, and while the pacing could definitely have been a bit stronger, director León Klimovsky winds up delivering a genre entry that is worth watching, if not quite a stone cold classic.

    Heinrich Starhemberg is amusing to watch as the male lead in the film. He doesn’t have traditional leading man charm and he’s not exactly the most handsome man to ever grace the silver screen, making him an atypical lead in a genre often populated with ‘beautiful people,’ but he’s interesting to watch (and he’s got a killer wardrobe). Ágata Lys is alluring and mysterious in an interesting way, well cast in her part and handling the material quite well. Isabel Pisano (of Last House On The Beach), Sandra Alberti (of Satan's Blood) and Jess Franco stalwart Antonio Mayans (of Night Of Open Sex and a bunch of others) also have supporting roles in the picture.

    The Killer Is One Of 13:

    Lisa Mandel (Patty Shepard), is recently widowed, her husband believed to have died in a plane crash. She lives with her servants in a massive, and beautiful, old estate out in the country, far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. She invites a collection of friends and acquaintances over to her less than humble abode – her cousin Francis (Eusebio Poncela), his mother (Trini Alonso), man about town Harry Stephen (Simón Andreu), a friend named Martin (José María Prada) and his girlfriend Hoven (Dyanik Zurakowska), a painter named Harlan (Jack Taylor), a friend named Guillermo (Eduardo Calvo) and his wife Laura (Carmen Maura). What they don’t realize until they’ve arrived is that the reason for Lisa’s hospitality is that she presumes one of them had to have had a hand in her husband’s murder. As such, she wants to uncover the identity of the killer deal with things accordingly.

    As the festivities play out, the various participants grow more and more suspicious not just of one another, but of Lisa and her help - gardener (Blaki) maid (Marisol Delgado) and her two butlers (Ramiro Oliveros and Paul Naschy) - as well. And of course, there’s a black-gloved killer skulking about the estate who begins to murder off various participants in increasingly gruesome fashion, while various members of the cast get busy with each other, just to further complicate the various relationships in the film!

    Owing an obvious and massive debt to the work of Agatha Christie, The Killer Is One Of 13 isn’t as gory or hyper-violent as a lot of giallo pictures are but it’s a decent enough mystery film in its own right. It never feels wholly originally, probably because the influence of Christie’s work is so very obvious here, but it makes good use of an interesting cast. That said, those looking to see Naschy in action might be a bit disappointed to learn that he only has a brief supporting role in the film and really only gets a few minutes’ worth of screen time in the picture. Jack Taylor, of Female Vampire and plenty of other Franco pictures, is quite solid here, however, and Patty Shepard pretty good as the female lead.

    Javier Aguirre, who also directed Naschy in Count Dracula’s Great Love and Hunchback Of The Morgue, paces the film quite deliberately. This doesn’t move very quickly, and that might be an issue for some, but it’s very nicely shot and the location chosen for the film is very effective. Like the first film, it features no shortage of garish seventies fashions and colors on display, visually this is quite strong. The score from Alfonso Santisteban isn’t half bad either.

    The Police Are Blundering In The Dark:

    This third film opens with a pretty intense scene where a beautiful young woman’s car blows a tire on the side of a remote road. As she gets out to see what she can do about the problem, sees a man nearby and asks him to help. Soon enough, she’s chased through the woods, losing some clothing along the way, and brutally murdered by the assailant now wielding a pair of scissors!

    After this, a second young woman experiences car trouble and is stranded at the side of a road. She calls her boyfriend, Marcello, for assistance, interrupting him while he is in the throes of passion with another woman, and he agrees to come help. Before he can get there, she’s murdered, again, with a pair of scissors and when he can’t find her he searches the area and winds up at a inn that seems to have a connection to the killings. It turns out that there are few other women that have been murdered in a similar fashion recently, and that the one connection they share is that they’ve worked as models for a photographer named Parisi, who is working on an experimental camera capable of capturing people’s thoughts on film!

    A decidedly strange giallo even by the standards of the genre, The Police Are Blundering In The Dark doesn’t focus so much on police activity as you might expect it to, given the title. The whole angle with the camera makes this one stand out, it’s a bizarre idea and handled with an equally bizarre execution, and while things can get more than a little messy in terms of the plotting and the structure of the film, it does offer plentiful nudity and some pretty graphic kills.

    Seemingly the sole directing credit of composer Helia Colombo, the film moves at a good clip and as odd as it gets, it’s never boring even if it could have used a bit more visual polish. The performances are fine and the cast made of up attractive players. It also features a really good score from Aldo Saitto

    Forgotten Gialli Volume One – Blu-ray Review:

    All three films are presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition taken from restorations performed on new 2k scans of their respective 35mm negatives on their own 25GB discs. Generally speaking, these transfers are very strong. The first film has a slight green hue to it here and there and shows some noticeable print damage in spots but it isn’t constant. Detail is quite good and the picture retains a nice, film-like quality throughout. The second picture is a bit cleaner than the first, but shares similar qualities – it’s nicely detailed with plenty of depth and texture to it and it looks very filmic. Again, there’s a bit of print damage but it’s never particularly distracting at all.

    Each film gets a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 track, the first two in Spanish and the third in Italian, with optional subtitles offered up in English only. No problems with any of the audio here, the tracks are clean and nicely balanced. They are limited in range, of course, but there’s depth to the scores and for older single channel mixes they sound just fine. The subtitles for each film are clean, clear and easy to read and don’t contain any obvious typos. Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks are also included for each film in the same language.

    Extras are laid out as follows:


    The main extra for Trauma is a commentary track with author Troy Howarth, which covers a good bit of ground including León Klimovsky’s career and importance to the genre, how and why giallo pictures came to be made in Spain after proving to be commercially viable properties in their native Italy, biographical information on some of the cast and crew members and the influence, sometimes quite obvious, of Italian giallo pictures by the likes of Argento and Bava but also of Hitchcock’s Psycho (the murder in the bathtub being the most obvious visual example). He examines the plot and structure of the picture and makes some observations about the cast, the cinematography and quite a bit more.

    Aside from that, there’s a brief promotional image gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    Killer Is One Of 13:

    Historical commentary with author and Editor-In-Chief of Diabolique Magazine Kat Ellinger, who starts by talking about the film’s release history in collector circles, its lack of English language distribution, how it doesn’t have any ‘post-Argento tropes’ and is more of a classic Agatha Christie style murder mystery in a lot of ways. She does, of course, cover the casting of Paul Naschy in his small role and how that probably toyed with audience expectations. As the track goes on she covers Simón Andreu interesting presence in the film, the subversive traits often found in Spanish genre work, where some of the other cast and crew members involved in this picture pop up in other notable genre films, the locations used in the film, some of the elements of gothic perversity in the film and the way that it deals with class themes.

    Additionally, the disc includes a brief promotional image gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    The Police Are Blundering In The Dark:

    Historical audio essay with film historian and critic Rachael Nisbet that allows her to offer up some welcome information about the career of director Helia Colombo, how he got his start in the industry working as a composer before moving into the director’s seat for this lone directorial effort in his career, information about the cast and crew, thoughts on the effectiveness of the film and some of its notable missteps as well.

    A small promotional image gallery, menus and chapter selection options close out this disc as well.

    Special mention should also be made of the packaging for this release. All three films get their own clear plastic Blu-ray case and those cases in turn slip inside a beautiful, and sturdy, box that opens from the top to allow the cases to slide in. It’s similar to how Vinegar Syndrome packaged their recent Angel and Amityville collections and it’s one of those things that just make their releases that much nicer.

    Forgotten Gialli Volume One – The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome’s Forgotten Gialli Volume One Blu-ray collection brings three truly obscure entries to Blu-ray in very nice shape and some decent commentary tracks offering history and context for the features. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full-sized Forgotten Gialli Volume One screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I'm going to have to revisit TRAUMA again soon, I think I might like it more knowing what to expect. It sure as hell looks amazing a/v wise. That male lead is seriously one of the weirdest and genuinely odd actors I've ever seen.
    1. Nabonga's Avatar
      Nabonga -
      I wish mine would get here already. It's been in the postal system for a month soon. :-(