Death Occurred Last Night / La morte risale a ieri sera (1970)

4.0 out of 5

A mentally retarded woman is kidnapped and sold into slavery in Duccio Tessari’s light mix of giallo and crime. A pair of detectives and her angry father soon shake down the city’s entire prostitution racket to find her, but not without partaking in a few punch ups and red herrings along the way. Despite a setup primed for action, Tessari opts for a slow burn approach, focusing on the dramatic and psychological impact on those involved with little in the way of exploitation until an emotionally satisfying revenge subplot that occurs in a Laundromat, complete with scalding irons and a washing machine promptly put to use as deadly weapons.

Direction takes a documentary approach to the mature subject matter with a series of handheld scenes and obnoxious close-ups. Lighting is consistently poor, generating constant bright images which negate the mood and atmosphere of the piece; the similarly-themed 8MM did a much better job at creating a dark and creepy visual of the sex underworld, but Schumacher botched everything else that Tessari gets right here, mainly a realism of its story and character arcs. Despite the lack of action and violence, this police procedural is thoroughly engaging and a makes for a restrained crime thriller with an edge.

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