Wednesday, June 9, 2010


(Alberto De Martino, 1985)

I present to you here one of the giallo's last dying gasps. The genre's popularity had dwindled by the early 80s, and only a handful of these films were produced over the decade. Formula For A Murder is one of the better.

As a child, Joanna (Christina Nagy) was sexually assaulted by a man disguised as a priest, an incident that left her paralyzed below the waist and terrified of clergymen. She is now grown up and rather well-to-do, and has put most of her riches into a rehabilitation facility to help those like herself. There she falls for semi-suave coach Graig (David Warbeck), who promptly proposes to her to the supposed chagrin of her friend Ruth.

Graig, we soon learn, has an ulterior motive for marrying Joanna. He and Ruth plan to frighten her to death and collect her fortune. The means? By dressing as a priest and tormenting Joanna with a bloody doll similar to the one with which the false priest had lured her. Joanna, however, proves much more resilient than the two initially suspected.

I won't give away the ending here, as it's one of the few 80's gialli I might recommend for home viewing. Once again, director Alberto De Martino proves he's more than capable of delivering a film loaded with menace, style, and action. His extreme camera angles and occasional use of the fisheye lens coupled with the nursery rhyme-like synth soundtrack make for some memorable scenes. Add in some gory deaths by straight razor and shovel and a theophobic theme, and you have another hidden gem. It also features a tense chase scene in which Joanna, having hobbled her assailant, is pursued through her house at a speed that can only be described as nightmare-slow. Worth checking out, though you will have to order a burnt copy or download it as there is no official release to date.

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