Boys Who Slaughter, The / I ragazzi del massacro (1969)

4.5 out of 5

A classroom rape and killing of a teacher at the hands of a room full of wayward youth is the set up for what could be described as a giallo as it possesses the prerequisite unseen killer, whodunnit and red herrings.

Fernando Di Leo uses scenes of interrogation to explore the subjects of crime by nihilistic teens years before films such as Young, Violent and Dangerous and also challenging the state and law enforcement over the constraint of liberal policing methods, particularly when dealing with youth, in what could be seen as an embryonic take on the type of frustrated and angry anti-liberal cop that would later be personified by Maurizio Merli and his ilk.

Largely procedure heavy and at times possessing an almost faux documentary approach the plotting nevertheless remains convoluted enough to remind that this is more a dramatic work than exposé and includes an ever so off kilter depiction of the crime in progress as the credits open to hammer this point home.

Certainly compelling and, despite the subject matter, a relatively restrained crime film from Di Leo, The Boys Who Slaughter is only let down by a conclusion that while unforeseen and befitting of the giallo thriller nevertheless, in offering an answer of sorts to the phenomena of youth crime fails to address the key themes raised throughout the bulk of the feature. While prejudices may well be tackled head on the disconnect between generations, nihilistic violent street crime and how these are to be tackled are subjects that get frustratingly sidestepped in the end.

For all the criticisms the film remains an essential for fans of Fernando Di Leo, giallo and Eurocrime.

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