BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Directed and co-produced by Luciano Ercoli, Death Walks on High Heels isn’t quite the giallo film his next one, Death Walks at Midnight, would be. Ercoli and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi haven’t found their rhythm together and it shows with scenes that are a bit too self-indulgent and provide little to advance the story. That’s not suggesting the movie isn’t without merit, though. For fans of whodunit thrillers, Death Walks on High Heels has a pretty confident strut; it's time on the catwalk is just a bit too long.
Starring Ercoli’s wife, Nieves Navarro (once again listed under the name of Susan Scott), it really is a film that showcases all of her bare assets. She’s a pretty face, yes, but her skill at carrying thrillers like the one extends far past her looks. As Nicole Rochard, a famous French stripper recovering from the murder of her father, she’s suspected of stealing the diamonds he previously stole. She has no idea about any diamonds, but trying to convince the police of that fact is a bit of a burden.
Inspector Baxter (Carlo Gentili) and Captain Lenny (George Rigaud) are a bit too simple-minded for the convoluted mystery that unfolds in front of them, but they try to put all the pieces together in a way that makes sense to somebody; so what if they arrest several different people before stumbling into the real killer. And there are a lot of players in this one, so forgive them if they take a little too long until they jokingly wink at each other (and then stare into each other’s sparkling eyes) with a sort of “the case is solv-ed” matter. You’ll dig them and their facial hair, for sure.
Featuring strong character performances from Frank Wolff as the British eye surgeon she has an affair with and then follows to the seashore and Simon Andreu as her jealous boyfriend, the thriller is undercut time and time again by ridiculous kitschy exploitation. In one hilariously awful wig after another, Navarro strips for the males and flaunts everything. She shimmies. She struts. She even disrobes while in black face and it turns her boyfriend on and on and on; the dressing room becomes a bedroom.
And the story – no matter how well filmed it is due to cinematographer Fernando Arribas’ keen eye for visuals and framing devices – just dwindles as an affair begins after discovering a secret about her boyfriend. All momentum is lost with each extended scene of Navarro and Wolff in bed, eating fried fish, washing their hands in rose water, and going on shopping sprees. It’s great for 1970s fashion fans, but laughably silly for the rest of the world.
One by one, the body count doubles and our cast is streamlined as a killer – “seen” only by a blind man – reduces the players in the game. Ultimately, with Navarro dead and over a quarter of the movie still to go, the film goes to some rather interesting places, but nothing it does can ever remove it from the shadow cast by Ercoli’s next film, Death Walks at Midnight.
Death Walks on High Heels is made available on blu-ray thanks to Arrow Video, who provide the film with a 2K restoration from the original camera negative. While not necessary, it is an interestingly unbalanced film. Plus, naked Navarro is all about the ooh la la in HD.
MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime: 105 mins
Director: Luciano Ercoli
Writer: Ernesto Gastaldi
Cast: Frank Wolff, Nieves Navarro, Simón Andreu
Genre: Horror | Foreign
Tagline: A Luciano Ercoli film.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I want to know who shot him."
Theatrical Distributor: No U.S. theatrical release
Release Date: November 30, 1971 (Italy)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: March 28, 2017
Synopsis: Spanish-born model and actress Nieves Navarro stars as Nicole, an exotic dancer who finds herself terrorized by a black-clad assailant determined on procuring her murdered father’s stolen gems. Fleeing Paris in hopes of evading her knife-wielding pursuer, Nicole arrives in England only to discover that death stalks her at every corner..
Special Edition Blu-ray
Home Video Distributor: Arrow Video
Available on Blu-ray - March 28, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles: English / English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono; Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Arrow Video’s 2K restoration from the original camera negative is definitely an improvement for Death Walks on High Heels. Colors are far and away more pronounced and shadows are deeper. There is a wonderful attention to background details throughout the production and the 1080p transfer highlights this with a nice definition in lines and edges. The film is presented with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and looks crisp and inviting; nothing about it looks dated. The original Italian and English soundtracks are presented in a DTS-HD MA 1.0 track. Nothing too special there, but adequate for the film’s range.
The Audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas dives in to the highs and lows of the movie with lots of good information about the shoot and the director.
Arrow Video doesn’t hold back on the supplemental material and gives fans of giallo a treat with a featurette of newly-edited archive footage of an interview (from 2012) with director Luciano Ercoli and actress Nieves Navarro. There’s also an interview with screenwriter Gastaldi on how to write a successful giallo film. Composer Stelvio Cipriani is also interviewed for the release. Complete with s reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx, this is yet another strong release from Arrow Video.
- Introduction by Ernesto Gastaldi
- From Spain with Love
- Master of Giallo
- Death Walks to the Beat
- Original Italian and English Trailers