Director: Aldo Lado
Notable Cast: George Lazenby, Anita Strindberg, Adolfo Celi, Dominique Boschero, Peter Chatel, Alessandro Haber, Nicoletta Elmi
Director Aldo Lado surprised me with the bold and well-executed choices of his giallo film, Short Night of Glass Dolls. This is what made me excited to finally partake in his only other film of this type and the focus of this review, Who Saw Her Die?. The inclusion of a relatively stacked cast, including one-time James Bond George Lazenby, only perked my interest further. If the film was anything like Short Night, it was bound to be one of the best giallo of the era. Through Arrow Video’s latest (and incredibly stacked Blu Ray), Who Saw Her Die? finally found it’s way to my viewing queue. Despite some great executions from Lado and company, the film features a rather by the numbers plot that doesn’t quite have the hooks and angles that made his other film so great. Still, despite a more traditional plot, the film finds its niche in some stylish use of setting, great performances, and snazzy kill set pieces to appease giallo fans and horror/thriller fans alike.
One thing to address right away is that, despite some of the more unique things that Lado did with his other giallo film, Who Saw Her Die? strips down most of the gimmicks to present a more straightforward murder mystery narrative. For those looking for the kind of giallo that is style over substance, don’t expect the bold swings that the genre would occasionally aim for. This is a film where Lado takes the more dramatic tones of that previous film and refines them down into a more cohesive and refined whole. There is still a bit of style to be found, particularly in how Lado shoots the Venice setting that converts it from a historic, old-world tone to a claustrophobic trap as the lead, Franco, desperately navigates its maze-like streets to find the killer. Most of the overzealous style is negated for a more realistically toned film.
After starting with a fantastic first act to set up our protagonist, played with decent pizzazz by Lazenby, and his young daughter to establish the emotional core of the plot and narrative, the film grinds down into a more traditional whodunnit mystery. In this effort to create a slightly more realistic murder mystery at its basis, Who Saw Her Die? plays things out too grounded to set itself aside from its peers at the time. The film attempts to create key moments that stand out with a heightened sense of reality, mostly due to the more colorful secondary characters and their eventual demise. Most of the murder sequences, including one in a room full of twittering birds and a full public death in a movie theater, stand out against the rest of the film. The mystery is rather intriguing, particularly in regards to the killer after a solid cold open and how the killer regularly shows up in the backdrop, but the juxtaposition between the two sides of the genre don’t combine in as nearly as an efficient way as they might have.
On the plus side, as with most of their incredible giallo releases, Arrow Video delivers another must-own release for fans. Of course, the release is handily built around the new 2K restoration for the film from the original 35 mm negative which is a stunning restoration job even compared to the previous US release on DVD. Still, the Blu Ray is brimming with features, including new interviews with a variety of the creative people involved with the film along with a new analysis from film critic Michael Mackenzie who brings up a fantastic comparison between Who Saw Her Die? and another iconic horror film from the 70s.
All in all, Who Saw Her Die? is a solid giallo flick worth seeing for its strong use of its Venetian setting, solid performances, and great kill sequences. The balance between its heightened choices common to the genre and the more grounded reality of its narrative don’t quite find the right give and take, which drags the film a bit in the second and third act, but for fans, this is another brilliant release to add to their collection. The positives outweigh the negatives in some fantastic ways and it gets a hearty recommendation.
ARROW VIDEO FEATURES:
- Brand new 2K restoration of the full-length Italian version of the film from the original 35mm camera negative
- High Definition Blu-rayTM (1080p) presentation
- Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio
- Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits
- Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
- New audio commentary by author and critic Travis Crawford
- I Saw Her Die, a new video interview with director Aldo Lado
- Nicoletta, Child of Darkness, a new video interview with actress Nicoletta Elmi
- Once Upon a Time in Venice, a new video interview with co-writer Francesco Barilli
- Giallo in Venice, a new video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie
- Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
- Poster and fotobusta gallery
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love
Written By Matt Reifschneider