A singularly scuzzy experience, Strip Nude For Your Killer contains many a moment that will leave the viewer feeling in need of a thorough post-movie scrubbing. There’s the ample shots of flabby Italian chicks in various states of undress, their skinny boyfriend Carlo who is likewise occasionally clothing-challenged, the department store music that calls to mind The Newlywed Game by way of a porno, and of course the opening scene of a woman in stirrups. I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to see a good movie that began with a scene at the OB/GYN.
All of those things though are merely prelude to the scene that will be seared (against your will) into your memory later on: three hundred pounds of icky guy dressed only in a pair of white briefs holding an inflatable doll in one hand and a butcher knife in the other!
The Italian giallo is the sort of genre that’s practically designed from the get go to be over-the-top what with its enthusiastic melding of sex and violence and deliberately convoluted plotting that invariably sees everyone as a suspect until such time as the real killer dispatches them. (Though in the real good ones even that doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t do it.)
In the hands of a master like Dario Argento or Umberto Lenzi, these films can be shocking, surprising, and a marvel of visual storytelling. In the hands of the guy that made the zombie movie Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror, these films can make you want to call in the hazmat team to disinfect your entire home once the first scene of a guy humping a gal in a spa he just met while shouting at his girlfriend to get lost has finished.
That Strip Nude For Your Killer should unerringly live up to its less-than-subtle title, shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that director Andrea Bianchi’s work in Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror is chiefly remembered not for the dodgy zombie action, but for casting a midget in the role of a little kid and then having the midget try to breast feed off his “mom” before turning into a zombie and tearing a big chunk right out of her boobie!
I can’t say that the scene of the pig in his underpants with the doll and knife comes anywhere close to that as far as being considered part of the Bianchi film legacy, but this film does allows Bianchi to demonstrate his penchant for trashiness uninterrupted by anything approaching restraint or creativity.
You see, for all its sex and violence, Strip Nude For Your Killer is maddeningly bland. It’s the most generic giallo plot you can possibly imagine. A mysterious killer is slicing his/her way through the various employees at the local modeling agency. Everyone behaves suspiciously in an effort to simultaneously generate suspects and audience interest. Usually there isn’t any real reason for these people to be lying to the police, but how else are you going to keep things moving along for an hour and half, when you have zero plot otherwise?
Look, I know it’s easy to throw out the whole “no plot” complaint like it’s the critical equivalent of “Shazam!” or something, magically dismissing a movie without further effort, but seriously, in this movie we just watch someone get knifed every ten minutes or so and have the remaining characters react to it afterwards without doing anything about it.
The best Italian slasher movies are the ones where we get to watch the mystery unraveled as the movie progresses. Usually we’re following around some character who’s trying to get to the bottom of things before the killer can get his or her mitts on him or his girlfriend. For most of this movie, Carlo is too worried about banging anything on its hind legs to get out and look for clues.
We finally do learn that Carlo has a connection to the killer, but it’s the sort of connection that should motivate him to put this person out of action ASAP. As it is, everything is just explained in a perfunctory manner at the very end of the movie, all by Carlo who knew exactly what had happened as soon as he saw who the killer was. Oh, it’s you! Of course! You were out for revenge for blah, blah, blah.
And while I’m sure Bianchi thought the killer being decked out all in black leather complete with black tinted motorcycle helmet looked cool, how was the killer supposed to see anything when he/she is running around stabbing folks in the middle of the night? The reduced visibility probably came in real handy when stalking lard asses in their tightie whities though.
Unsympathetic leads, the derivative story elements (models, photographers, apparent clues spotted with a magnifying glass in some photo Carlo took), and a poorly developed killer (when the identity was revealed, my first reaction was “who the hell is that?”) all combine to only amplify the laughable overabundance of out-of-shape European skin as the filler it clearly is.
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