Limited edition boxset celebrates underrated Italian director with two of his best
Not one of the most prolific Italian filmmakers, Luciano Ercoli demonstrated a sense of cinematic flair and style that makes it hard not to wonder what he might have gone on to create had he not retired after directing just eight films. This is especially true of his two forays into the giallo genre with the actress who would become his wife, Nieves Navarro (credited in these flicks as Susan Scott).
Death Walks on High Heels (1971) stars Navarro as a Parisian erotic dancer targeted by a mysterious razor-wielding killer. When suspicion falls on her boyfriend (Simón Andreu), she hooks up with a rich admirer and jets off to a small village in England. But it isn't long before death comes calling again…
Death Walks at Midnight (1972) finds Navarro's tough-as-nails fashion model volunteering to test an experimental drug for a magazine article, only to witness a horrific murder while off her head. Fearing for her life, she goes to the police, who don't believe a word of it – which is a bit of a problem when the killer keeps popping up everywhere she goes.
Sleek, sexy and mad as a bag of cats, this giallo double-bill is an absolute treat for fans of the genre. Like the best of their kind, what they lack in narrative cohesion they more than make up for with dazzling cinematography, richly-drawn characters and audacious set-pieces. Hugely exciting films that truly deserve wider recognition – just like the late Ercoli himself.
Picture: Restored from the original 35mm 2-perf Techniscope negative, Death Walks on High Heels cuts an impressive figure. The director's fondness for extreme close-ups of eyes open wide in terror reveal excellent delineation and detailing in the 2.35:1 Full HD encode. Meanwhile, colours are bold and bright, and black levels are problem-free.
Similar comments can also be made about Death Walks at Midnight, despite being based on a 4-perf 35mm interpositive. The original 2-perf Techniscope camera negative has gone walkies.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: Both films sport clean DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono soundtracks that are at their best with Stelvio Cipriani and Gianni Ferrio's fabulous scores. Italian and English audio options are available for each title.
Audio rating: 3.5/5
Extras: Limited to 3,000 copies, this boxset offers introductions to the films by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi; chat-tracks by critic Tim Lucas; interviews, a video essay about the films; trailers; and an exclusive 60-page book of essays.
Extras rating: 4/5
We say: Two brilliantly bonkers gialli in a superb limited edition boxset. Grab it before they’re all gone!
Death Walks Twice: Two Films by Luciano Ercolli, Arrow Video, Region A/B Blu-ray & R1/2 DVD
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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