Film #262: THE MURDER CLINIC aka LA LAMA NEL CORPO
The Murder Clinic (aka La Lama nel Corpo)
3 out of 5 stars
This largely unsung film from 1966 has the look and feel of an early Hammer film mixed with a classic “old, dark house” picture and I’m sure that wasn’t unintentional. Director Elio Scardamaglia (this is his only film as director although he did produce Bava’s THE WHIP AND THE BODY & Julio Buchs’ A BULLET FOR SANDOVAL), manages to ape the look and feel of both sub-genres fairly well, but I’m not sure why the film is usually lumped in with “giallos” because it isn’t one. Who’s to say? Oddly, the print I saw featured German credits although the film is Italian / French in origin, so I guess all bets are off. The film (shown under the name REVENGE OF THE LIVING DEAD) was initially part of“Orgy of the Living Dead,” a notorious triple bill that played drive-ins in the early ‘70's along with CURSE OF THE LIVING DEAD (Mario Bava's KILL, BABY, KILL!) and FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD (Amando De Ossorio's MALENKA, NIECE OF THE VAMPIRE). Look for William Berger (Mario Bava's 1970 film, 5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON), as the handsome doctor working on skin grafts (the reveal of his failure is the only effect and the high point of the film). THE MURDER CLINIC comes with everything: robed killer wearing black gloves and wielding a straight-razor, a jealous invalid as the aforementioned doctor’s wife, a myriad of crazy inmates at the clinic including one lady who does nothing but lay in bed petting a stuffed Siamese cat, and a mysterious woman on the third floor who refuses to see or be seen by anyone. Sadly, the bulk of the film is a boat of red herrings and soon becomes nothing but a chance to wrack up a body count. There’s a giallo-esque resolution at the end, but one would be hard-pressed to maintain much interest for that long. In the end, THE MURDER CLINIC is a mid-‘60s shell game of a picture that is pretty bloodless and therefore safe for the whole family. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: not a terrible film… just not a particularly good one.