Phantom of Death / Un delitto poco comune (1988)

3.0 out of 5

There is something ostentatious, possibly bordering on the baroque, about the Venitian scenes of this late giallo from Ruggero Deodato.

This often tragic feature stars Michael York as a handsome and gifted pianist who is cursed with an illness that accelerates the ageing process. We witness his declining physical and mental health as in a murderous state he is chased across Italy by a police inspector played by Donald Pleasence. In moments of clarity he attempts to surrender to the law but with a rapidly changing appearance and his constant movement he becomes involved in an often intentional often accidental game of cat and mouse with an inspector who believes himself to be taunted by the fugitive.

Featuring a supporting role for Giovanni Lombardo Radice and benefiting from a high calibre leading cast that also includes Edwige Fenech the delightfully inventive premise of Phantom of Death may well have confounded those who had already wrote the epitaph for the giallo. While the alternate title of Off Balance is indicative of the disorienting nature of this film it is the Phantom of Death title that reveals far more. There is a clear Phantom Of The Opera influence upon this film.

Phantom of Death has had a recent release from the UK indie Shameless Screen Entertainment.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics