Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekend Murders, The (1970) - 3.5/5

Giallo (noun, plural gialli): is an Italian 20th century genre of literature and film, which in Italian indicates crime fiction and murder mysteries including elements of horror fiction and eroticism.

Agatha Christie
: Pioneering British crime writer specializing in murder mysteries.

"The Weekend Murders" is a unique Giallo as not only does it include essential ingredients of the lovable Italian genre but also elements of Agatha Christie murder mysteries. As you can tell from the definitions above they are much alike and it's amazing that a film in the genre didn't include popular Christie facets before as "Weekend Murders" blends them together wonderfully.

A children of a wealthy Baron gather at his large rural mansion to witness the reading of his will. When a sole child receives all of his wealth, the others don't take too kindly and soon family members and local staff begin dying off one by one. A local buffoon cop and a big city detective have their work cut out for them as they try to unravel the mystery as people begin to drop dead at their feet.

The plot is a takeoff of Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians" and with a plot containing so many characters, they all need to be odd and unique and the script and casting ensure of that. The highlight is Eric Pollard (popular for the English television show "Emmerdale Farm") as a pervy adolescent with overbearing mother problems.

Director Michele Lupo, a veteran of popular spaghetti westerns, notably "Arizona Colt", takes his first stab at the rising Giallo genre and nails the feel of an Agatha Christie novel. Even with the little twist on the typical Giallo plot he still manages to include many of the genre's expected eccentricities, notably eroticism and stylistic camera work. Michele Lupo also brings with him composer Francesco De Masi , another veteran of Spaghetti Westerns, to provide a beautiful score to drape the film in

In a surprising turn, Lupo injects many moments of comic relief, an element rather foreign to the Giallo genre. I applaud him for this inclusion as I did find myself chuckle on more than one occasion mostly surrounding our bumbling bicycle cop that ends up doing a more competent job of the multiple murder investigation than his big city counterpart.

Diehard fans of Gialli may be a little disappointed that "The Weekend Murders" is not a typical entry into the genre. This is actually what I respect the film most for... trying something different. It may not have a shadowy figure running around murdering scantily clad women with a knife clutched in gloved hands but it's still thick with colorful characters, eye-catching directing and an alluring score. If you're sick of the typical Giallo then I highly recommend trying out "The Weekend Murders" but be quick about it as the Code Red DVD is currently out-of-print and the film will be a bitch to hunt down once retailers run out of stock.

Written By Eric Reifschneider