Plot of Fear / E tanta paura (1976)

4.0 out of 5

A corpulent punter strangled to death by a hooker and a woman brutally pummelled with a monkey wrench on a late night bus are the seemingly unrelated incidents linked by the discovery of illustrations from Heinrich Hoffmann's 'Shockheaded Peter' at both scenes. Police inspector Michele Placido is swiftly despatched to investigate the case of the 'Fairy Tale Murderer', which appears to have its genesis in something that happened years ago at the 'Villa Hoffmann'.

Black Belly of the Tarantula director Paolo Cavara's last foray into the giallo genre is in the main pretty effective, with the solution to the mystery being refreshingly neither completely predictable nor a 'head scratcher'. Stars Placido, Corrine Clery and Eli Wallach all acquit themselves splendidly, although future Alien star Tom Skerritt seems oddly out of place as Placido's stressed out superior. Or maybe it's just one moustache too many.

With a wonderfully driving, aggressive score from Daniele Patucci, this is quality stuff, despite the fact that the somewhat sleazy subject matter renders it more redolent of Strip Nude for Your Killer than Cavara's earlier triumph.

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