Nude... si muore (Naked You Die)
directed by Directed by Antonio Margheretti (as Andre Dawson)
starring Marc Damon, Michael Renny
There was a time when Italian films looked different than the Hollywood product. It was more than the Euro locations and the freedom to show sexuality in a natural way - there was a sophisticated attitude toward story and resolution that evaded the old Hayes commission mentality. Antonio Margheretti's 1968 Naked You Die is a great example of the look, and it has a decent storyline as well.
We open with the drowning of an attractive yet strikingly nude woman in her bathtub. The corpse is packed into a steamer trunk and hauled off to St. Hilda's College, only to be stored in a basement. St. Hilda's is quite exclusive - just six attractive female students who major horseback riding, tennis, lounging by the pool and wearing identical designer outfits. Sex with the faculty is extra credit, and horseback instructor Richard Barrett (Mark Damon) flits from girl to girl, ultimately landing on the one with no parents and a huge trust fund. The others achieve a variety of unpleasant ends. There's plenty of suspects, from creepy groundskeeper Floret (Luciano Pigozzi) to scuba instructor Di Brazzi (Giovanni Di Benedetto), who looks like Ari Onassis working a side job.
There's a palpable sense of suspense, and typically excellent filmography from director Margheretti. My favorite scene occurs early - one of the girls enters the creepy basement, lingering in the bull's eye formed by an old lamp and the light of the door she entered. She's dead by the next scene. What lurks in the background is the sense that this is one of the early slasher flicks - attractive women in isolation, dying one by one. The blood and explicit gore is missing, but the twist ending IS a surprise.
The disk is in Italian, with fasted paced English subtitles (in yellow, thank goodness) requiring splitting attention between the plot and the tendency of these women to strip to their undies when under duress. The special features are limited, although the trailer is as entertaining as the film and goes by much quicker. Foreign films had a reputation for artiness 30 years ago, and it was well deserved. Unlike some 60's imports, this one ages very well, and constantly gives the viewer something to watch - breasts, bodies and backgrounds.