Movie Review: Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973)


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Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973)
Directed by Joe D’Amato
Starring Ewa Aulin, Klaus Kinski, Angela Bo, Sergio Doria, Attilio Dottesio, Luciano Rossi

Italian icon Aristide Massaccesi, used so many different pseudonyms throughout his career, it’s tough to keep track of them. But the one name that he is most commonly known under is Joe D’Amato. This film here is his first real horror film as director, as well as co-writing it and being the cinematographer. It really does show his style, because he usually didn’t go for anything really flashy or outrageous, but still packed a punch.

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This has one strange story that you really need to be paying attention to follow, but is well worth your attention. Revenge is the topic here (amongst a few others ), even if it comes from the grave. A young woman that was involved in an accident is found by a rich couple and taken in a guest while she can recover. They have the local doctor check her out to make sure she is okay. The doctor, played by the one and only Klaus Kinski, seems to have other ideas. It was really strange seeing him basically as a bit part here, but is one of those actors that captures your attention anytime he is on screen. But the real star here is Swedish actress Ewa Aulin. We’re never really quite sure about her here, but she makes a powerful presence at the end of the film. As the body count rises and the plot going through more and more twists and turns, when the payoff comes, it is just awesome. While D’Amato may be known for gore and nudity in his later films, with Death, he is able to build some great scenes of tension and atmosphere.

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This amazing looking disc comes from Arrow Video with a brand new 2K restoration from the original negative and has never looked this good. It comes in both Italian and English soundtracks, with newly translated English subtitles. There is also a commentary by Tim Lucas, where you will learn so much more about the making of the film and those involved. While an older interview of D’Amato has him talking for a bit about the film, but the real highlight is a 40+ minute interview with start Ewa Aulin where she talks about her career, called All About Ewa. Kat Ellinger is on here as well giving a very interesting video essay on D’Amato and his work, called Smiling on the Taboo: Sex, Death and Transgression in the Horror Films of Joe D’Amato.

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