Strip Nude for Your Killer

Studio: Arrow Video

Apr 05, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Giallo is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining subgenres ever to be produced for literature and film. Initially coined as a descriptor for the 1929 Il Giallo Mondadori pulp novel series that largely consisted of translations of existing British and American works, the (eventually massive) collective of cheap paperback mystery books caught on strongly in post-fascist Italy, and remained massively popular for the next few decades. While the literature primarily remained as Italian variations on existing storytelling parameters for mystery and suspense, the film industry would evolve the genre in new and exciting ways that would soon take the whole world’s imagination by storm.

The giallo cinematic subgenre began as literal adaptations of the more popular giallo mystery novels, technically beginning with Luchino Visconti’s classic Ossessione (1943). Though it would not actually become a nationally popular genre until Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963), the seeds for experimentation were already planted. Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, giallo would go through several distinct evolutions, branching off exponentially from its crime fiction roots into the world of psychological thrillers and horror. This rich tapestry of genre tropes would subsequently attract some of Italy’s most incendiary creatives working in cinema, which included Dario Argento, Umberto Lenzi, Ruggero Deodato, Lucio Fulci, and Andrea Bianchi.

Bianchi began his directorial career at the height of giallo’s cinematic popularity, co-directing What the Peeper Saw in 1972, (arguably) a loose remake of The Bad Seed (1956). He quickly solidified his career as a provocateur with a penchant for taboo subjects - a combination which found a perfect home in the ranks of giallo. Though his filmography exists on a sliding scale of quality (with movies like Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror and Commando Mengele being some of the worst 80s Italian movies that I have seen), he does have a handful of strong genre exercises to his credit. Strip Nude for Your Killer is a 1975 murder-mystery that is often considered as part of Bianchi’s better oeuvre, though that has remained in intense debate since the film’s original release.

After a botched illegal abortion leads to a model’s death, individuals start getting murdered by a mysterious figure in a leather racing outfit and tinted motorcycle helmet. The crimes seem to swirl around the Albatross Modelling Agency, where the chauvinistic photographer Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo) and his highly manipulative boss Gisella (Lia Amanda) chew the scenery and rule over their surly employees with aggressive indignance. Amidst affairs, sexual harassment, assault, and occasionally some photography, the police juggle the company’s lies, misdirections, each greatly inhibiting their ability to catch the killer - everyone is a suspect. While the police have no verifiable leads, Carlo’s photography assistant Magda (Edwige Fenech) starts piecing the bloody puzzle together, all the while wishing for an amateur modeling career, and sexually pursuing Carlo.

Strip Nude for Your Killer was released on August 26, 1975 to mostly negative reviews, which has largely subsisted throughout the decades since. This backlash was reportedly feared by screenwriter Massimo Felisatti prior to the premiere, who split story credit with Bianchi to “deflect his role and not have to bear full responsibility.” The film is often cited by critics and genre scholars as a very typical giallo experience for its release year, with minor note given to its heavier-than-usual emphasis on sex and nudity in tandem with the classic giallo violence. The acting is a myriad of conflicting qualities, each character contains some form of unredeemable sleaze, and the story falls completely apart in the third act through a few weak twists and exposition dumps.

However, I am somehow able to look past many of these stumbling blocks due to the effective atmosphere and commentary that the film utilizes. Bianchi and Franco Delli Colli created a visual feast for the eyes (withstanding the heavy borderline softcore porn vibes) with a mesh of intriguing camerawork, bold color palettes, and shot compositions. The close relationship between sex and death sets the entire foundation for the story and the visual aesthetic, which sometimes makes strong statements on individuals in the film (such as the scene with Franco Diogene and a blow up sex doll), or comes off as cheap exploitation - both are true. As it is, this film would never be made in today’s climate, though if the sex was showcased with more perspectives, the cast were given some deeper characterization, and a new ending was written, it could make for an exciting (and concise) erotic thriller.

The film was first released for home consumption on DVD by Blue Underground in 2005 and Shameless Screen Entertainment in 2008; Blue Underground would also release a Blu-ray in 2012. Arrow Entertainment decided the last Blu-ray release wasn’t up to par with what this sleazy time capsule demanded and decided on their own release with an avalanche of supplementary features. The film’s new 2K restoration is paired with a 1080p variation, with a optional blue-tinted opening sequence that was present in some exhibition prints. The original mono Italian and English soundtracks are supported with new English subtitles and closed captioning (which should be added to all historical films getting re-releases, by the way). An audio commentary track with Adrian Smith and David Flint of is buttressed by Kat Ellinger’s video essay Sex and Death with a Smile, which profiles Fenech, and new video interviews with Castelnuovo, actress Erna Schurer, assistant director Daniele Sangiorgi, and production manager Tino Polenghi.


The release is rounded out by the original Italian and English theatrical trailers, an image gallery, a reversible sleeve with original artwork by Graham Humphreys, and an illustrated collector’s booklet by critic Rachael Nisbet. The amount of historical reminiscence and special features in this giallo release would put any Criterion Collection Blu-ray to shame - this is how you re-release a historical film. Despite Strip Nude for Your Killer being overly inflammatory and defined by its utterly shaky contributions to the genre, it is still clearly held closely by many people as a beacon of 1970s genre filmmaking, and one that’ll be carried far into the future by its devoted fans.



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