Film #301: DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER aka LA MORTE HA SORRISO ALL'ASSASSINO aka DIE MORDERBESTIEN
Death Smiles on a Murderer aka La Morte ha Sorriso All’Assasino aka Die Morderbestien
2 out of 5 stars
The legendary Italian genre director, Joe D’Amato aka Aristide Massaccesi (EMANUELLE AND THE LAST OF THE CANNIBALS, BUIO OMEGA, ANTHROPOPHAGUS) brings us this Poe-inspired tale of a man who discovers an Incan formula for raising the dead and uses it in a series of revenge murders. The film is slow and meanders, but it’s creepy enough with its gothic atmosphere and charm to hold one's interest. Acting is competent with actress Ewa Aulin (CANDY, DEADLY SWEET) mostly here as eye candy. Kinski skulks around and acts menacing, but he’s really only in the film for the first thirty minutes or so. His scenes are mostly made up of him brooding and pouring colored liquid from one beaker to another. The performance feels like they only had him for a few days and they shot all his scenes knowing they could cut them into the film later. It makes it seem like filler... which is clearly is. Filler... and so that they could put Kinski's name on the box. There’s also a score by the underrated Berto Pisano (Andrea Bianchi’s BURIAL GROUND) that’s fun and a squirmy ‘hat pin to the eye’ scene that’s pretty nifty. Visually… think Antonio Margheriti (HORROR CASTLE, CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE, YOR, HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE) and know that the film predates D’Amato’s classic BUIO OMEGA, but hints at the director’s continuing fascination with dead bodies. This is not nearly as gory as OMEGA is, but its being grounded in anatomy is evident. In the end, DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER - and what passes for its plot - is an overly convoluted genre thriller that somehow manages to be slow and not make a whole lot of sense all at the same time. It has a certain dream-like charm that some have found addicting, but… that flew right by me. Recommended for D’Amato fans, Kinski completists, and as a fun way for insomniacs to drift off to sleep.