The Giallo Project #6: Naked You Die
Alternative titles: Nude… si muore; Sette vergini per il diavolo; Schoolgirl Killer; The Miniskirt Murders; The Young, the Evil and the Savage; Director: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony Dawson); Starring: Mark Damon, Eleonora Brown, Michael Rennie, Sally Smith; Music: Carlo Savina; Italian theatrical release date: February 20th, 1968
So far, all of the gialli that I’ve watched for this project have demonstrated a wide variety of influences. Naked You Die is where this all changes, as its sole frame of reference seems to be Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace, with an all-girl boarding school standing in for the earlier film’s fashion house and its various pupils replacing the models. Margheriti, however, doesn’t have half the visual flare of Bava, and the cinematography is overall flat and unattractive, particularly when it comes to the lighting which, day or night, has the same harsh brightness. Nor does he possess Bava’s imagination: almost everyone dies as a result of a straightforward strangling, which seems to take little more than a couple of seconds.
Margheriti does, however, make occasional use of the subjective camera to represent the killer’s point of view, beating Dario Argento to this technique by nearly two years. (One of the interesting things about tackling these films chronologically is that you begin to get a sense of at what points various trends began to become popular.) There is also a rather effective moment in which a girl strangled in a basement drops to the floor, her head angled directly at the camera - staring, as it were, at the audience. That’s about it for creative kills, though, and the film’s title turns out to be incredibly misleading as most of the victims are fully clothed when they are murdered.
Elsewhere, a bland cast and unbelievable, perfunctory dialogue kill pretty much any potential interest in the plot itself. Mark Damon is hopelessly ill-equipped as riding instructor Richard Barrett, while the fact that virtually every girl on campus seems to be on the verge of swooning at his feet just boggles the mind - “I think I’m in love; he’s the man I’ve always dreamed of!” is an actual line, spoken within minutes of his arrival. Naturally, he has his own ideas about the students, and ends up romancing one hapless girl who - coincidentally - is deathly afraid of horses.
Naked You Die can pretty much be summed up by the first couple of minutes, as a woman sheds her clothes, takes a bath and is promptly murdered: Margheriti teases but shows very little with regard to violence and nudity. This is effectively an exploitation film without any exploitation, and there certainly isn’t anything more intellectually stimulating to compensate. It just amazes me that a giallo about a killer stalking the pupils of an all-girl school can be so damn chaste! One for completists only.
Next time, it’s another new discovery for me, Romolo Guerrieri’s The Sweet Body of Deborah.