Years later, the woman returns to her childhood home. The place is stalked by an unseen figure, the classic Giallo villain with black leather gloves and a straight-razor.
The heroine is a lady detective. She is partnered with Liam Cunningham ( Game of Thrones ), a hard-drinking Irishman who is also a gun-toting Scotland Yard detective on assignment to the British Embassy.
The problem is that the film concentrates on the cops rather than the killings, so it is a police procedural rather than a slasher film. The result is slow and predictable - but it comes to life when the killer targets a couple of characters who are involved in the investigation.
It is only by looking at the credits that one can ascertain this was directed by Dario Argento , master of the Giallo genre. With the exception of one single camera-shot, this completely lacks Argento's impressive visual flair.
The title refers to a whip used by a serial killer. Blind investigator Karl Malden ( ) teams up with journalist James Franciscus ( Beneath the Planet of the Apes ) to find the killer.
The explanation for the killer's rampage is that he has a double-Y chromosome, which gives him a genetic pre-disposition to criminal behaviour. This film has that strange thing - a piece of movie science that actually rings true in real life!
The hallmarks are all there - the serial killer with black gloves who performs a series of stylish kills.
The story starts like a Giallo, full of suspense. However, the music is all wrong for it. Instead of the classic tunes of Goblin we get a series of 1980s soft rock tunes that keep the pace moving at too fast a speed.
At night the characters go to an old cinema to the special screening of a movie-within-a-movie. A pity nobody in the production team remembered Cannibal Holocaust , an earlier Italian horror effort, because this was a prime opportunity to use the Found Footage genre.
The movie-within-a-movie is about some tweenagers who go to a graveyard and inadvertently dig up the tomb of Nostradamus. Unfortunately they then become infected - what these days would be called a Fast Zombie. And predictably, the audience also become afflicted with the same infection.
The third act is where it goes completely over the top. One of the infected managed to escape from the building. Within half an hour, this has caused a global zombie apocalypse. Luckily there are some survivalists around, with an American-style jeep (and an American-style collection of shotguns).
The killer targets brides on their wedding day. His motivation is Paranoia - yes, yet another medical term mis-represented by a slasher film. It would have been more straightforward to use his unhappy marriage as a motive. But despite the typical sloppiness, the film really takes off when the killer gets stalked by the ghost of his most recent victim. There are shades of Les Diaboliques as the killer's sanity takes a turn for the even worse.
This was directed by Dario Argento , and bears the usual hallmarks of his work. Garish lighting and an operatic soundtrack are foremost among them. While it is not technically a Giallo film, since the villain is a supernatural entity and not a human slasher, the presence of a black-gloved killer makes it the next best thing.
The problem is that the story seems to stagger from one set-piece to another. There is not really a central protagonist that we are meant to care about, merely a series of vulnerable persons (usually females) who are constantly put in jeopardy. And when some characters start to act in a suspicious manner, the unseen villains start to shorten the list of suspects by bumping off any rivals in villainy.
The blond-haired American protagonists, boyfriend and girlfriend, are seeing the sights on a remote Greek island. But he is a religious zealot and she is a sadistic nympho. They start killing off anyone who is sexually open-minded. The result is a lot of soft-core porn scenes.
Our little heroine meets Scottish (!) scientist Donald Pleasance ( Halloween ), who by incredible coincidence is an advisor to the Police investigator. In another unlikely coincidence, he is an expert in insects ... And the girl has a superpower - she can talk to the insects!
This is one of Dario Argento 's biggest films, in terms of scope anyway. It is nearly forgotten, which is almost a pity - the supernatural aspect is ridiculous, but the film certainly has its moments.
The Police are baffled, so they stage a media cover-up. Unfortunately, a lady reporter starts nosing about. The only plan the cops have is to send Lynda Day George in undercover as a sexy Tennis Coach. At least this is realistic, because she is technically too old to pass for a co-ed.
The poor lighting, cheap SPFX and especially the blatant over-dubbing all mark this as a Euro-trash effort. Exteriors were shot in Boston, but the main work seems to have been done in Madrid. There are some inventive scenes, but this is overblown and unrealistic. The worst example is the final sequence, a reference to Carrie but taken to the extremes of Grand Guignol.
She has to deal with sibling rivalry, an overbearing mother, and an uncontrollable hunger for raw meat. Worse, her taste for meat is specifically for human flesh. This leads on to some grotesque gore scenes.
This is a pretty weak effort, compared to the Director's other work. The mediocre dubbing into English is the least of its problems. It is based on a book, and that may be part of the problem. Like The Cardplayer it is a Police Procedural, concentrating on the cops instead of the killer. The star ( Asia Argento ) is too young, and her father ( Dario Argento ) directed it around her.
Unfortunately, a black-gloved Giallo killer is killing attractive women in a fashion reminiscent of the protagonist's new novel, Tenebrae. The killer is obsessed with the novelist's work, and the police investigation centres around him.
This is one of Dario Argento 's early forays into International film-making, evidently aimed specifically at the American market. The climax has a few surprises, but all in all it is not nearly as good as his earlier efforts such as Deep Red .
This movie has a weird supernatural vibe, possibly because it was shot by a European director ( Jess Franco ) and contains a lot of soft-core nudity. The soundtrack makes it seem incredibly dated. It also stands out because it was shot in the exotic city of Istanbul.