Saturday, March 12, 2022

MY DEAR KILLER (1972) Blu-ray Review

My Dear Killer (1972) d. Tonino Valerii (Italy/Spain) (100 min)

While investigating an unsolved kidnapping, an insurance agent is killed in most dramatic fashion, lifted up and then decapitated by a small steam shovel engaged to dredge a small pond. When the lethal heavy machinery operator is found hanging dead in a country barn, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide… until the clever and handsome Inspector Luca Peretti (George Hilton) demonstrates that the driver could not have killed himself. Thus begins Peretti’s descent into the infamous and newly-reopened “Maroni case,” complete with a tangled and ever-increasing web of suspects and victims, with the hopes that he can eventually get home in time to make love to his sexy doctor girlfriend (Marilù Tolo).

Co-written by frequent collaborators Roberto Leoni (Santa Sangre) and Franco Bucceri (How to Lose a Wife and Find a Lover) and helmed by renowned spaghetti western director Valerii (Day of Anger, My Name is Nobody), the pedigree for this fast-paced mystery is not comprised of the usual suspects. This, however, should not act as a deterrent since all demonstrate a knack for delivering the giallo goods, complete with a faceless black-gloved killer, gratuitous female nudity, and a couple of memorable offings, particularly the creative beheading cited above and the “death by circular saw” that became the film’s calling card and poster art.

Hilton, veteran of numerous early 1970s gialli including The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, and All the Colors of the Dark (all for Sergio Martino), is in expert form here (rocking a sweet mustache), a charming and likable protagonist who delivers the perfect blend of dogged determination and identifiable humanity (he has trouble getting it up in bed when he’s on a case). Born in Uruguay, Hilton moved to Italy in 1963 and almost immediately found success in a series of westerns, comedies, and crime thrillers, where he remained a familiar face for two decades until his output began to slow in the mid-’80s.

Valerii surrounds his star with a wonderful ensemble of Spanish and Italian regulars, from Peretti’s easily stumped superior Chief Marò (Salvo Randone) and underling Brigadier Bozzi (Manolo Zarzo) to the fetching female charms of Patty Shepard (Crypt of the Living Dead, Slugs) and Helga Liné (The Loreley’s Grasp, Horror Express), both of whom had the distinction of co-starring opposite Paul Naschy (The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Women for Shepard, and Horror Rises from the Tomb for Liné), as well as Marriage, Italian Style’s Tolo.

There’s also some lovely comic byplay between the junkman Mattia (Dante Maggio) and his lady friend Adele (Lola Gaos), with the former muttering and swearing throughout and the latter proving herself a true hero in the final reel.

Thanks to Leoni and Bucceri’s swirling plotline and Valerii’s taut direction, the end result is a giallo that feels familiar yet fresh (a child’s drawing plays a large role here, three years before Dario Argento’s Deep Red), emphasizing the mystery elements over the exploitation, right down to a concluding drawing room scene right out of an episode of Murder, She Wrote. And let’s not forget the exquisite score (complete with lullaby) from the legendary Ennio Morricone. Great fun.


Jon Kitley (Kitley's Krypt), Bryan Martinez (The Giallo Room), and AC sit down with Ian Simmons of Kicking the Seat for another round of ACCADEMIA GIALLO, our ongoing series exploring the sexiest, scariest, and sleaziest that Italy (and other purveyors of Euro-horror) have to offer.


Region Free Blu-ray
Newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original negative
Includes both the original Italian language and the English dubbed version, with the English version being sourced from tape
“Innocence Lost” a brand new video interview with writer Roberto Leoni
Archival interview with actor George Hilton and director Tonino Valerii
English subtitles

My Dear Killer is available now from Vinegar Syndrome as part of its Forgotten Gialli: Volume 2 (along with The Girl in 2A and The French Sex Murders) and can be ordered HERE:


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