AKA: Chi l’ha vista morire?
Director: Aldo Lado
Producer: Ovidio G. Assonitis, Enzo Doria
Cast: George Lazenby, Anita Strindberg, Adolfo Celi, Dominique Boschero, Peter Chatel, Piero Vida, José Quaglio, Alessandro Haber, Nicoletta Elmi, Rosemarie Lindt
Running Time: 90 min.
“Who Saw Her Die?” is a 1972 giallo from director Alan Aldo that stars George Lazenby in a rare post-James Bond leading role. Unfortunately, Lazenby looks quite unflattering here, with a thick handlebar mustache and a gaunt, almost sickly physique. IMDB claims the actor lost 35 lbs to play the character of a sculptor but for the life of me I can’t imagine why that would be necessary for this run-of-the-mill Italian horror flick. Far from the handsome image of an international superspy, Lazenby appears emaciated and unhappy in a thankless role.
The story follows an estranged husband and wife as they seek to uncover the mystery of their daughter’s death in Venice. Horror fans will notice that this set-up bears more than a superficial resemblance to the Nicholas Roeg film “Don’t Look Now,” which was released just a year later. Whether or not Reog was influenced by (or even saw) this film feels almost inconsequential to me since “Don’t Look Now” stands tall as a classic of the horror genre while “Who Saw Her Die?” is instantly forgettable. With “Don’t Look Now,” British director Reog managed to beat the Italians at their own game, crafting a giallo-like film superior to many “authentic” efforts.
All the cliches of the genre are present in “Who Saw Her Die?”: a black-gloved killer, wobbly POV shots from the killer’s perspective, more red herrings than you can shake a stick at, and jabs at the Catholic church. Even the gimmick of having a question in the title is familiar, the much superior “What Have You Done to Solange?” being released the same year.
This film does at least feature a worthwhile soundtrack from genre mainstay Ennio Morricone. The composer made clever use of a child’s choir to echo the “children in peril” theme of the film, which also makes the soundtrack resemble some of Danny Elfman’s early 90’s work. However, the music is implemented haphazardly into the film, with the score at times starting and stopping in an abrupt fashion. Actually, the opening credits play with absolutely no musical accompaniment; the dull aerial footage of a ski slope in France is the first warning that the viewer is in for a sleep-inducing cinematic experience.
That’s really all I can imagine “Who Saw Her Die?” would be good for: curing insomnia. Thrill as George Lazenby walks, bony shoulders haunched, through the gloomy streets of 70’s Venice, banging on windows and searching for clues as to the killer’s identity. The story moves at a snail’s pace and features very little onscreen violence, which any giallo fan knows is the opposite of Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci’s films of this era. If all you’re after is nudity you’ll get to see Dominique Boschero (“All the Colours of the Dark”) and Anita Strindberg (“The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail”) in the buff frequently enough, but you’d have to be seriously hard up for a date to find the awkward sex scenes in this movie erotic.
Lazenby’s character isn’t even sympathetic or relatable. At one point he abandons his daughter with the other local children then saunters off to have sex with his mistress. Once he’s gotten his rocks off, he heads to his studio to work on a sculpture and knock back a few drinks. That’s when he finally pauses to wonder, “Now wait a minute, where’s my daughter?” Sorry, pal, you practically deserve all the crap that’s coming your way in this horror film.
Off the top of my head, I could probably think of a dozen giallo’s I’ve seen that are superior to “Who Saw Her Die?” There’s really no reason to watch this movie unless you’re out of sedatives. I’d recommend listening to the isolated Morricone soundtrack by CD for a much more entertaining experience. George Lazenby fans – I know you’re out there – are most likely to be aghast at the sight of the actor looking so ill and malnourished. Not to mention that 70’s mustache he’s sporting. Hey, I thought he was great in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” too but this is not one of his shining moments. Horror buffs are better served by watching “Don’t Look Now” instead; it takes the same premise but makes visual poetry out of it. Though, fair warning, Donald Sutherland sports a mustache in that one too.
HKFanatic’s Rating: 3/10