Strip Nude For Your Killer

Director: Andrea Bianchi 
Edwige Fenech, Nino Castelnuovo, Femi Benussi

As you have probably seen, if you have been reading the reviews on this web site for quite some time, my main aim with The Unknown Movies is to tell you about unknown movies, and make the good ones sound interesting enough that you will seek them out on your own and watch them. But I have other aims as well. You have probably seen that I review unknown movies from all different sorts of genres. I've said before that my purpose with this is to attract as wide as possible an audience, to have something for everyone. And then hopefully these readers, once getting what they came for, will be interested enough to read the reviews I've written for other genres and seek out and watch those other movies. I truly think that the smart moviegoer puts a lot of variety into his moviegoing habit. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of motion pictures coming from the major Hollywood studios, but I would eventually get sick and tired from watching just those movies. There is such a wealth of movies to be found all over the world, movies that can entertain in such different ways than Hollywood blockbusters. The relative unpopularity of some foreign movies puzzles me at times. For example, I can't understand why spaghetti westerns only have a minor cult in North America. Their music, action sequences, and stylish direction would put a jolt into people who think that westerns are boring. Then there is the giallo genre, another genre I am puzzled as to why it is relatively unknown on this side of the Atlantic. This particular kind of spaghetti dish has ingredients that I find mighty tasty, such as bloodshed and other kinds of graphic violence.

But there are other reasons why I am confused at to why the giallo genre has never really taken off in North America, one reason of which is the most puzzling at all. Just take a look at a random sampling of giallo movies for a moment, for example. Upon doing so, one will see that the majority of them (if not all of them) concern themselves with killers. Not just ordinary killers, but serial killers. Now take a look at the film industry of North America, both with major studio movies and independently filmed movies. It doesn't take long to see that serial killer movies are very popular with not just filmmakers, but with audiences as well. Yet while Europeans will watch giallos as well as movies from North American that concern serial killers, North Americans have little interest in giallo movies. Why that is is a question I am unable to answer with complete confidence. However, I do have some possible theories as to why serial killer movies, giallo or not, are popular just about everywhere. Taking a look at these movies, one will see that the victims of the killer, as well as the people who are threatened with being murdered, tend more often to be ordinary people. Audiences can relate to these people more than characters in a lot of other movies. And as they relate to these ordinary characters, audiences wonder if they themselves could be a potential victim of a serial killer. This kind of thinking often makes the movie scarier than, say, a supernatural thriller where the menace is made to be so unreal that there is little fear of it by the audience. Another reason why I think serial killer movies are so popular is that the killers themselves sometimes have ordinary backgrounds. In cases like these, the majority of audiences can connect with them on this level, and may wonder if they themselves could become psychotic like the killers onscreen.

With thinking like this, it's no wonder that serial killer movies seem attractive to an audience despite their dark subject matter. And it's no wonder therefore that movie makers keep churning them out. But there are other reasons why studios keep making serial killer movies. One reason is that a lot of time you don't have to spend a lot of money making them. I think most of us picture serial Strip Nude For Your Killerkillers working out in the open and in squalor. So you don't need the expense of building great sets or other impressive production values - an abandoned building gives you the atmosphere you need. And Italians have for decades made some great giallos on budgets just a fraction of their American counterparts. That's one reason why I decided to take a look at Strip Nude For Your Killer when I found it at a used DVD store. But I have to confess that the title attracted me greatly - it promised that this particular giallo would be sleazier than usual. The events of the movie surround people who work at the Albatross Modeling Agency, which is run by a woman named Gisella (Lia Amanda), whose husband Maurizio (Franco Diogene, Tentacles) has an unprofessional eye out for the ladies at the modeling agency. Also working at the agency are Magda (Fenech, Hostel Part II) and Carlo (Castelnuovo, The Five Man Army), photographers who are currently in the middle of a romantic relationship. One night, the lives of these four people are severely shaken when a male employee of the modeling agency is brutally murdered. The police subsequently investigate, but don't make much progress. But the killer isn't content with one victim. Not long afterwards, Gisella's lover (one of the models at the agency) is killed shortly after the two feud. Then Maurizio is killed shortly after attempting to rape one of the agency's models. Naturally, by this point Magda and Carlo are pretty shook up and are wondering if they may be next. They decide to investigate on their own, but they don't have much to go on. The audience doesn't have much more to go on - it seems the model agency killings are connected to the movie's opening sequence, which concerned the seemingly avenging murder of a back alley abortionist after he botched an abortion so badly that he killed the woman. But how is this killing connected to the present murders? More importantly, will Magda and Carlo unconver the culprit in time?

After more than fifteen years of writing reviews for this web site, and getting numerous e-mails of feedback from various readers (though not recently - hint hint), I feel reasonably safe in declaring that I have some idea of what readers expect to learn from certain kinds of movies I choose to review. With a movie with the title Strip Nude For Your Killer, I know that the first question readers want answered about the movie are about its characters, how people trying to make a living in an industry with a sometimes dubious reputation react and adapt individually and with each other with a new kind of threat suddenly looming up and adding to their various challenges in an already cutthroat business... I'm kidding! I know what the most pressing question in your mind that concerns the movie, and that is, "So does the movie deliver the goods when it comes to presenting sexual and violent material?" Well, when it comes to presenting sexual material, the movie does indeed deliver the goods. The movie wastes no time getting to this stuff, with the first shot of the movie being that of a nude woman on a doctor's table with her legs spread, with the head of the doctor almost blocking view of the woman's lower regions. It only gets better from that point on, and during the course of the movie ninety-eight minutes we get sights like two naked lesbians rolling around in bed, two other naked lesbians smooching on stage at a club, a prospective model stripping everything off in a sauna and seconds later having sex with the man photographing her in the sauna, and the hero and heroine of the movie interrupting their investigation of the murders so they themselves can have some sex. All of this material is totally gratuitous, of course, but these scenes have been filmed with such an eagerness to please that one can't help but smile and enjoy these sequences, even if they do momentarily stop the story.

In addition to those aforementioned sex sequences, there are plenty of moments when the women of the movie simply take off their clothes for one reason or another. (Some of the male characters take off their clothes as well, but I'm sure you are not terribly interested in that.) So the movie is top grade when it comes to sexploitation. But what about when it comes to violence? Well, if you are expecting a lot of blood and gore, more likely than not you'll be slightly disappointed. Apart from a sequence near the end where two seriously messy corpses are found, there isn't a terrible amount of bloody material in the movie. In fact, some of the murder sequences are depicted with absolutely no blood or gore shown. While this may make these murder sequences sound disappointing, director Andrea Bianchi compensates by staging the murders with surprising skill in other areas. One thing Bianchi does several times with success is to stage a murder in relative silence - no background music, and no noises in the background except maybe for the sound of a running faucet. It's a simple but surprisingly effective technique to make these scenes creepy. Another thing Bianchi does several times is to stage the murders in ways that you don't immediately associate with murders in other movies. The murder of the abortionist, for example, has the killer running a considerable distance up to the abortionist and stabbing him several times - all in one unedited shot. One female victim is totally naked when being stabbed to death (that's exploitation!) There is one murder sequence that is not totally original, clearly inspired by the shower sequence in Psycho, but Bianchi puts a spin on the murder so that it comes across as unique and something you haven't seen before.

Bianchi not only shows skill in depicting the murder setpieces in Strip Nude For Your Killer, but he also shows skill in certain elements that are required in most other films, slasher or not. The general atmosphere of the movie is pretty convincing; I could for the most part believe this particular world, a world containing all this sex and murder. He also handles the actors well. While I couldn't completely judge the performances since I was watching a print that was dubbed into English, all of the actors appear comfortable and their various mannerisms and expressions fit the atmosphere. However, Bianchi does stumble somewhat with some parts of the screenplay. Though I mentioned earlier that the movie runs a reasonably sounding ninety-eight minutes, it doesn't take long in watching the movie to determine that the movie could have been a lot shorter. By the time the movie reaches the halfway point, you'll realize that the main characters have done nothing in the way of investigating, nor do they seem very concerned that at this point the body count has reached a significant figure. Eventually, they do investigate, and that's where the second problem of the movie comes up. Until the final few minutes, the audience has been given absolutely no clues that might aid in their determining who the killer is before the main characters figure it out. And when the movie does reach those final few minutes, there is no mystery at all who the killer is, namely because every possible suspect in the movie that earlier passed our eyes has already been murdered. Viewers who are mystery buffs will likely be greatly disappointed by this aspect of the movie. Still, if they happen to also be fans of sexploitation and slasher scenes, they will find that the movie definitely compensates in other ways.

(Posted December 16, 2015)

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See also: The Bloodstained Shadow, Crawlspace, Psychopath