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Cold Eyes of Fear

Cold Eyes of Fear

Italy/Spain: Enzo G. Castellari, 1971

A young lawyer, Peter Baddell (Gianni Garko), picks up an Italian party girl, Anna (Giovanna Ralli), during a night on the town, and takes her back to his uncle’s country retreat for a bit of slap and tickle. Once there, however, they find the butler dead and themselves being held at gunpoint by two thugs, Quill (Julian Mateos) and Welt (Frank Wolff), both of whom have unsavoury plans for uncle dearest (Fernando Rey).

This film has been described as Castellari’s only giallo - he tends to be better known for his poliziesco titles, such as Street Law and The Heroin Busters - but that description is a little misleading, as it has more in common with exploitation shockers like The Last House on the Left, Night Train Murders or The House on the Edge of the Park (all of which, incidentally, came along after this) than any of Argento or Martino’s efforts. Indeed, the most traditional giallo moment comes at the very start of the film, in which a knife-wielding killer disrobes a terrified blonde starlet; even this, though, turns out to be nothing more than a play being put on for a crowd of pompous yuppies. Is it just me or is Castellari poking fun at his audience?

Cold Eyes of Fear

As with Aldo Lado’s Night Train Murders, Cold Eyes of Fear observes a tension between superficial consumerism-fuelled lifestyles and brutal, unprovoked acts of cruelty, creating a false air of civility and then tearing it down: it’s the feigned politeness of the two thugs, combined with the occasional sudden burst of violence, that makes them disturbing. On the other hand, they’re never quite as brutal as one would normally expect from an exploitation film of this variety (they give their hostages so many second chances that it becomes a little ridiculous). The film is definitely tense, though (with my copy, cropped to 1.85:1 from its original 2.35:1, arguably even more claustrophobic than Castellari must have originally intended), although it does begin to lag a bit in the second half. Even so, Castellari still manages to overdo the fisticuffs for which his police thrillers are so famous. And, of course, in the end it does the predictable “Who are the real savages?” role reversal for which these films are so well-known.

I’m not sure I’d call this essential viewing by any stretch of the imagination. I liked it, but Castellari’s poliziesco thrillers are better. It ultimately lacks a Franco Nero or Fabio Testi figure to give it that extra kick. 6/10

PS. You can read another review of this film, by Keith Brown, at Giallo Fever.

Posted: Thursday, March 08, 2007 at 3:00 PM | Comments: 8
Categories: Cinema | Gialli | Reviews



What version of this film did you watch? I think there has been a UK and US release but I have never seen much in the way of details about the specifications of either DVD release.

Is it a title I should be putting down on my "Gialli to watch list"?

By the way I still have a plethora of Krimi pictures I want to get my hands on, so any comments/reviews/suggestions would be great.

Posted by: Count Fosco, March 8, 2007 4:18 PM


The copy I’ve got is PAL, but I’m not sure of the source. I have a feeling it’s one of these “unofficial” releases (I actually only have it on a DVD-R).

Not sure if you’ll want to put it on your list or not - it’s not what I’d call a must-have title, but it’s watchable enough.

Afraid I can’t advise on the krimis at the moment - the only one I’ve seen is Zimmer 13. Have you had a chance to see that one yet?

Posted by: Whiggles, March 8, 2007 4:26 PM


By the way, Lee, just to let you know that I got your email and will respond shortly. Just finishing up a review for DVD Times (with a deadline of midnight). :D

Posted by: Whiggles, March 8, 2007 4:30 PM


No rush Michael. Just wanted to get back in the habit of leaving comments as I have often wanted ask questions and post remarks but let myself get distracted by time constraints.

I haven't managed to see Zimmer 13 but I think there is a KRIMI box set available that I might try and pick up. Of course only if funds permit.

Best of luck with the review, I look forward to have a read through it over at DVD Times at a later date. :)

Posted by: Count Fosco, March 8, 2007 5:22 PM


I believe you can get this on the UK Salvation DVD label. I saw it recently in Virgin.

Posted by: Baron Scarpia, March 8, 2007 9:52 PM


Never seen this but it's worth mentioning that other than his poliziesco Castellari did also direct at least a couple of good spaghetti westerns in Keoma and Johnny Hamlet and of course he also made Inglorious Bastards which now appears to be most famous as the title of a film Quentin Tarantino hasn't made yet.
All three are well worth watching.

Posted by: , March 8, 2007 11:43 PM


Yeah, I’m quite interested to see Castellari’s westerns too. My only experiences with his work so far have been this and the three poliziesco titles released by Blue Underground.

Posted by: Whiggles, March 9, 2007 10:56 PM


Castellari's westerns are very elemental, founded on archetypes. Wasn't a big fan of COLD EYES OF FEAR: I saw it once, a decade or so ago. It seemed a little unsure of its genre: it's definitely not a giallo, and at the same time it's not a poliziesco--it's more of a melodrama.

When compared with its obvious model, THE DESPERATE HOURS, which is a truly great movie, COLD EYES OF FEAR looks positively anaemic. It's only bonus is a good Morricone jazz score.

Posted by: Bogart, March 11, 2007 2:42 PM

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