Strip Nude For Your Killer (US - BD)
Gabe revisits one of the more notorious Italian giallo thrillers on Blu-ray disc...
Strip Nude for Your Killer isn’t exactly among the giallo genre’s finest hours, and unlike Argento’s Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Fulci’s Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, or Bava’s Blood and Black Lace, it isn’t going to win any genre converts from the proper side of the cinematic tracks. But for fans of Eurotrash exploitation few pre-‘80s gialli have more to offer in terms of pure sleaze and perversion. By 1975 bloody violence and (relatively) graphic sexual excesses had already come to define the genre – Bava spoofed the superabundance of violence with Twitch of the Death Nerve (aka: [I]Bay of Blood), Fulci made his most painful and blasphemous film in Don’t Torture a Duckling, Sergio Martino delved into psycho-sexual politics with Torso, and Argento was releasing Deep Red, a title which appropriately described the degree of onscreen carnage – so director Andrea Bianchi had few seedier places to take his film, outside of delving into pure pornography. Strip Nude for Your Killer is just about as close to pure pornography as Bianchi could get without breaking any laws, and his record in this arena would arguable endure until 1982, when Fucli made The New York Ripper, and decimated any sense of decency.
Strip Nude for Your Killer (aka: Nude per l'assassino) was only Bianchi’s third film as a first unit director, and marked the beginning of a consistently politically incorrect filmography. His eclectic genre output included sex comedies, erotic melodramas, and softcore porn rip-offs of popular horror releases. Eventually he gave up all pretense and started making straight porn flicks, but along the way gained some measure of fame for Maniac Killer, which starred Bo Svenson and Chuck Conners, a particularly gory neo-giallo called Massacre, and Burial Ground (aka: Nights of Terror), a rip-off of Fulci’s Zombie featuring a climax where a zombie child tears his mother’s nipple off when she offers it to him to nurse. Strip Nude for Your Killer isn’t quite a flat rip-off of anything, but is based largely around the popular giallo tropes of the period. The story takes Blood and Black Lace’s model society backdrop, and borrows Argento, Umberto Lenzi and Sergio Martino’s pseudo-intellectual angle on sexual politics (and fumbles them all over the place). The plot points also follow familiar lines of blackmail, historical indiscretions rearing their heads in violent ways, and a single piece of evidence haunting the entire case. The cops are positively worthless too. Bianchi and co-writer Massimo Felisatti also follow the general giallo structure of not revealing enough clues for it to actually be possible to guess the killer’s identity with any kind of educated accuracy.
The title kind of says it all, I suppose, and Bianchi gets right to work here, opening the film with a botched abortion, complete with obligatory pubic hair in the shot. Following the first murder (which comes out of nowhere) the film cuts to some kind of country club, where a sleazy photographer named Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo) quickly convinces a curvy, bikini clad girl named Lucia (Femi Benussi) to have sex with him in the sauna. Within five minutes of the sauna sex we’re privy to a girl on girl sex show bathed in vulgar red lighting. Within a few minutes of this the female lead, Magda (Edwige Fenech, most recently seen in Eli Roth’s Hostel Part II), corners our Carlo in his dark room, strips, and proceeds to perform oral sex on him. There’s a bit of plot and killing here, but soon we’re back in the bedroom, where we find Lucia in the throes of orgasm with one of the model agency’s bosses, a female, who leaves Lucia to wander nudely around her apartment before her untimely death. After a bit of a lull in perversion Bianchi includes one of the film’s most grotesque sequences, where a morbidly obese businessman forces himself onto another exec at the model firm. She eventually agrees, but the agreed upon rape stops when fatty can’t get it up, and bawls about his impotence for several minutes, before finally going to a blow-up doll for satisfaction. At which point he is killed. And just when it looks like Magda is going to solve the case, Carlo convinces her to take a break for a roll in the hay.
There’s plenty of screen time devoted to plotting, but ten minutes rarely pass without any lecherous imagery. If it wasn’t for the occasional murder and lack of actual hardcore penetration shots (there’s nothing dirty enough to earn the film anything outside an R-rating had it been released today) Strip Nude For Your Killer would count as a straight-up porno film, which, again, is sort of the charm of the film. Most would also mark Strip Nude For Your Killer as a particularly misogynistic entry in an already misogynistic genre, but I’m willing to levy a minor defense, and point out that the murder victims are largely male. The women are all entirely objectified, even during dialogue heavy sequences, where Bianchi is sure to edit a few boobs and crotches into the mix, but there’s plenty of male nudity too. Well, at least partial male nudity. The bigger problem is Carlo, the supposed protagonist who womanizes without consequences, and even casually strangles two female protagonists when he thinks they might be implicating him in a murder. Later he follows a character to her doom, and stops to take pictures of her murder instead of doing anything to stop it. He ends the film by solving the case, taking Magda to bed, rolling her over, and attempting to force himself upon her anally. As she screams in protest he stops, and speaks the last line in the film – ‘I was just joking’. Sure you were Carlo, sure you were. Again, I’ll attempt to defend the film by wondering if perhaps Bianchi is trying to create a situation where the audience will identify with the women trapped in this terrible, male dominated world, but the theory falls short when one notices the manner that women take the vicious misogyny of the men around them in stride, and that, for the most part, they’re all generally unlikable people too.
Despite his utter incompetence later in his career Bianchi does a very good job of mimicking Argento, Bava, and especially Fulci, who filled out his 2.35:1 gialli frame quite similarly. At times Bianchi’s enthusiastic aping process gets away from him, especially in terms of colour, creating some of the films most exciting images. His garish use of gel lighting is quite amusing, as are his attempts at Argento-like shadow play, which are never really as stunning as he intended. Cinematographer Franco Delli Colli’s talent behind the camera helps things along, but an overuse of close-ups during action is a prevailing problem. Outside of his penchant for taboo smashing sex and nudity Bianchi scores the most points for his killer’s getup, which takes the basic black leather gloves of Argento’s killers and slathers them over the entire costume, creating a black leather clad biker, complete with a particularly phallic motorcycle helmet. I’m pretty sure Bill Leslie and Terry Lofton had this particular outfit in mind when they made Nailgun Massacre a decade later. There aren’t a lot of kill scenes, but what we get does feature some pretty gruesome highlights, including fingers sliced off at the bone, what appears to be either a castration or anal knifing, some particularly gory blade holes, a severed ear, a severed breast, and a brutally stab-happy climax. The majority of gory mayhem is presented as after effects. Bianchi never shows a knife actually penetrating flesh, leading me to assume he didn’t have the best effects crew on staff.
Overall this new 1080p, 2.35:1 Blu-ray transfer looks a whole lot like Blue Underground’s original DVD release, with a handful of key differences. The most obvious difference, outside of the minor clarity increase and lack of compression artefacts, is the Blu-ray’s superior warmth and brighter highlights. The brightness is a hit and miss issue. Problems arise early, as night shots reveal very little detail or shot structure, and black levels settle somewhere around charcoal grey. I couldn’t tell at all what was happening during the post credit sequence. The DVD release has generally the same problem, but when comparing the two, I see that the black levels are noticeably deeper on the SD version. Later the Blu-ray excels in terms of white levels, so the brightness increase becomes preferable. Still, when darkness is prevalent I found myself pining for richer black levels, and some of the more prevalently white daylight sequences are pretty blown-out, which has been a problem for just about every Blue Underground Italian Blu-ray release. The Blu-ray comes out ahead again, though, because its colours are vastly superior, especially those lascivious reds, which appear much more yellowed on DVD, not to mention the harsh blocking effects. The most heavily colour baked scenes look much, much better in 1080p, and the more subtle highlight hues are more consistent and clean as well.
There are minor issues with blurry details throughout, but these are usually the clear effect of focal problems with the original film, not problems with the mastering process. Overall textures are about average for type, and complex patterns are well separated. Then there’s the matter of CRT scanning and DNR problems, of which this transfer features plenty. Following the relatively unaffected Baba Yaga transfer last month Blue Underground has taken a bit of a step back into telecine effects territory. Some scenes feature digitally smoothed-out, flat details, and others look like they’ve been struck with a photoshop filter. This said, there are also plenty of scenes featuring natural looking grain structure, and generally natural edges, not the strange, dancing spatter effects seen on the studio’s more telecine effected transfers. I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that this has to do with the source material Blue Underground was working from, some of which was badly scanned, some of which was particularly grainy, requiring overzealous digital tampering, and some of which looked just fine. In comparison the DVD appears more texturally consistent, and the grain structure more natural, though it also features noticeably more print damage artefacts.
Note: German DVD releases reportedly feature the pre-credit abortion sequence in full colour, while this version, like Blue Underground’s DVD version, features the scene tinted blue.
Blue Underground gives us two audio options with this disc including the original Italian and dubbed English, both in the form of uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound. As per usual, Strip Nude for Your Killer was filmed without sound, so both tracks are technically dubbed, despite the majority of the cast being of Italian origin. In most cases like these I find myself just listening to English track for the sake of familiarity, and because most English tracks usually sound as if they’ve been better preserved than Italian tracks (for whatever reason), but this time the Italian track features some definite advantages in fidelity. The English track, which features many familiar English dub artists filling in for their Italian counterparts, has a slight advantage in dialogue volume, but the sound effects, which are minimalist at best anyway, sound basically the same on both tracks, and the lower volume on the Italian dialogue tends to blend a bit better. Berto Pisano’s groovy, period norm musical soundtrack isn’t stretched into the stereo channels, but sounds awfully good here, including some really deep bass guitar, and clean drum sounds. There’s a bit of flattening when the music gets too complex for a single channel, but otherwise fidelity is quite graceful. The English track gets a bit of a bass boost, but the Italian track’s music is a bit crisper. The music also stands out as more present on the Italian track, rather than fading deep into the background whenever anyone is speaking, like it does on the English track.
The extras begin with Strip Nude For Your Giallo, an interview featurette featuring actress Solvi Stubing and co-writer Massimo Felsatti (11:40, SD). Massimo discusses the ‘sexy movie fad’ that led him to mix the style with the gialli genre, the basic story inspiration, and giving Bianchi a story credit in an effort to distance himself from the violent production. Stubing discusses her casting, her work as a model (complete with a series of period beer commercial she starred in), working with Bianchi, working with Edwige Fenech, Nino Castelnuovo and Femi Benussi, filming on location, and her modern job as a journalist. Extras also include an international trailer, an Italian trailer, and a poster and still gallery.
Strip Nude For Your Killer isn’t a must-see giallo for newbies, but is a diverting and fun entry in the pantheon, and well worth the time for a genre fan. Its occasionally jaw dropping political incorrectness, found more in its character interactions and ‘comedy’ than its nudity or violence, is the main selling point, so those with delicate sensibilities might want to steer clear. I regret to say that Blue Underground has made some mistakes with this inconsistent HD transfer, which has weak black levels compared to the older, standard definition DVD release, and shows minor signs of digital tampering throughout. The soundtrack is good, whether you prefer Italian or English, and the extras, though brief and familiar, are still amusing and somewhat informative.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality. These are taken from the DVD release, which features much richer blacks, but flatter details. Hopefully I can get some comparison caps soon.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 27th March 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono English and Italian
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, English for Italian Version
Extras: Strip Nude For Your Giallo, Trailers, Still and Poster Gallery
Easter Egg: No
Director: Andrea Bianchi
Cast: Edwige Fenech, Nino Castelnuovo, Femi Benussi, Solvi Stubing
Genre: Crime, Horror and Thriller
Length: 98 minutes