Rings of Fear / Enigma rosso (1972)

3.0 out of 5

Virgin Killer is the only feature film made by director Alberto Negin, who found most of his work in television, and it is the unofficial third portion of the “schoolgirl trilogy“ started by Massimo Dallamano with his films What Have You Done To Solange and What Have They Done To Your Daughters. Negrin lacked the visual style of Dallamano, and he tries to make up for it by pumping up the sleaze factor. He succeeds by filling the movie with full frontal nudity of characters who are established to be young teens, a wicked gynecological exam, and a death that owe at least in part to a giant dildo. Even the dialog, such as when Testi’s character describes a dead girls rape to the school headmistress, complete with hand motions, comes off incredibly creepy.

The most compelling thing about Rings of Fear is how the climax of the film unfolds. Just when it seems like Testi’s Inspector has it all figured out, the rug is pulled away from both the detective and the viewer. Many gialli end with the killer being an unconnected individual who is perhaps only briefly seen, but Virgin Killer manages to keep the identity a complete surprise and still make total sense. However, the film’s ending keeps in tone with the rest of the film providing a sleazy, and disconcerting, denouement to the proceedings.

Fans of gialli, polizia, and Testi will find some things to like here, but Virgin Killer moves at a somewhat glacial pace. The sleaze takes it a long way, but after a while that fades into the background. What makes this film is the last ten minutes which will cause most viewers to look at the film’s events in a much different light.

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