Friday, July 10

Formula for a Murder (1985)


A.K.A. 7, Hyden Park: la casa maledetta
Directed by Alberto De Martino
89 Minutes / DVD-R from the Japanese Mount Light Video VHS / 2.35:1 Widescreen

A woman confined to a wheelchair (Joanna, Christina Nagy) falls for her physical therapist (Graig, David Warbeck) and rushes to marry him. After experiencing flashes of the trauma of a childhood rape upon their first night together, Joanna begins having troubling visions of the priest that committed the horrid act against her. Joanna's caretaker (Carroll Blumenberg) seems suspect of Graig's advances, but soon a plot is revealed involving her and Graig attempting to help Joanna off her mortal coil...

A way late era giallo that sometimes feels more like an American thriller and other times like pure Italian '70s heyday turns out surprisingly well. One can tell the production was limited with few central characters and settings, but reliable writing keeps these quibbles obscured. Nagy is fine for an actress with only three career roles, Blumenberg is easy on the eyes, and Warbeck is unfortunately not dubbed in English by himself. That last bit of the outline above isn't really a spoiler, as the man who was almost Bond in the killer role plainly revealed just over a half hour in.

There's only a few aspects that hurt, chiefly Francesco De Masi's cheesy '80s score, which relies far too heavily on repetitive and unimaginative keyboard synth. Also it's like the screenplay didn't know what to do with Joanna's character in the final quarter. She essentially gets parked in her backyard on lawn furniture for hours as Graig ponders her demise from the house and she seems totally oblivious to anything even as night falls. The low body count could be levied as a negative too.

Despite these small issues and the bland title, De Martino's last film is worth digging up, simply being noticeably better than the last/later efforts of many of his boot country colleagues.


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