1972, Italy, Directed by Giuliano Carnimeo
Colour, Running Time: 91 minutes
Review Source: DVD, R2, Vipco; Video: Letterbox 2.35:1 (compressed to 2.00:1), Audio: DD Mono
An attractive young female waits as the crowded lift she’s in makes its way to the upper floors. As people gradually depart the lift for their respective floors she’s left alone and almost from nowhere a masked person materialises to brutally murder her. The first woman to see the girl dead is actually an off-duty nightclub dancer/stripper/wrestler (whatever - she puts on a great show either way!) and soon she’s discovered tied up and drowned in her own bathtub. Two carefree models move into the same apartment block and are soon caught up in the investigation, plus one of them in particular - Jennifer - brings her own set of problems to the mix. For a start she’s being stalked by her estranged ex-marital partner who himself could easily be the killer given his psychotic behaviour. Plus she’s a little neurotic herself, or at least appears to be when a couple of unsubstantiated attempts are made on her life. Then she starts dating Barto, one of the primary suspects in the case and himself seeming to be slightly unhinged with his unexplained phobia of blood and occasionally odd behaviour. Barto is actually the architect of the apartment block and some of his talk is a little contradictory, suggesting either a tendency to lie or something worse. To further complicate matters Jennifer’s neighbours are hardly a model of normality and as the bodies start piling up it’s questionable whether she herself will survive.
It’s quite apparent you’re into conventional giallo territory within minutes here: a nubile woman murdered by a gloved, masked killer, the ensuing police investigation, an accused man - Hitchcock style, more stylistically shot murders and a groovy soundtrack. There seems to be a light-hearted appeal to this film, consisting of the funky music score by Bruno Nicolai (not always appropriately used however) and an undercurrent of humour conveyed by the characters, most notably the detective’s bungling assistant. This simultaneously maintains a sense of optimism throughout while (possibly inadvertently?) outlining the brutality of the murders through contextual contrast. George Hilton was something of a regular to this kind of material, here playing Barto the architect whose luck is both extremely bad and on the other hand unbelievably good: he’s implicated for the murders due to being in the worst place at the wrong time, the highlight being when a stabbed victim ends up grabbing on to him in the street just as everyone turns around to see him propping up the dead girl with blood all over his coat. But he also lands himself in the sack with Edwige Fenech, possibly the most stunning woman ever to walk on to a cinema screen. Not only does she have a pleasant, inoffensive personality combined with simultaneous naivety and sexual maturity, but she also has the most perfect body, face and long dark hair ever to be witnessed by mortals. Carnimeo knows this too well: she spends a significant amount of screen time in crazy but hot psychedelic clothes, skimpy clothes, or no clothes at all. While the film could hardly be described as the best the genre has to offer Carnimeo injects his own sense of style periodically; there are a handful of artistically realised shots interjecting the competently executed murder and action sequences. The suspects are quite a fun bunch to pick and choose from: apart from Barto himself and Jennifer’s sect-dwelling ex-lover, there’s the crazy old lady next door (who‘s immediately implicated when seen purchasing horror magazines!), her virtually mute husband, their scarred son, the lesbian neighbour, etc. What a bunch! Ultimately this is a pretty colourful, psychedelic, intermittently amusing ride through giallo territory, with Edwige Fenech as a major bonus.
Anchor Bay once released this stateside inside their much loved Giallo Collection box, while over here we were lucky enough to have Vipco handling the duties… Vipco are one company who truly failed to understand the DVD format with mundane release after mundane release of near VHS quality re-issues of the films that gave them their fame in the first place. Despite that their disc of Case… is actually one of their better ones, featuring an uncut widescreen transfer of a pretty good condition print. They couldn’t quite get the widescreen part right though: in 4:3 mode everybody is slightly thinner than they should be, in 16:9 everyone is slightly fatter, so somehow the proportions are not right, though it’s not quite bad enough to ruin the experience (note, I‘ve digitally corrected the JPEG still above). Sound (English mono) is clean enough while extras are limited to a few trailers for other Vipco discs. Vipco have since put this out in a cheapo iterant with very nasty packaging, plus they’ve coupled it with another film (Snowbeast) in one instance. The aforementioned AB disc was better (being correctly proportioned at anamorphic 2.35:1) but was only available as part the boxed set which is now difficult to get hold of. Blue Underground have since released a lower priced independent version of the same disc, hence that’s currently the best version to go for. Case… itself should moderately please giallo fans, though it’s not the best the genre has to offer, and it will definitely please Edwige Fenech fans. If you happen to be both then you can’t complain. (P.S. Case… has the rather brilliant alternate title of Why These Strange Drops of Blood on the Body of Jennifer?, a closer translation of its original Italian title.)