Made all the way back in 1972 Who Saw Her Die? Starts with one of the most disturbing openings I have ever seen, nestled in the beautiful snow filled French mountains you see a young girl enjoying herself with her nanny and her sledge. From out of the trees looms a figure of a woman with a veil covering her face. Grabbing the young girl, the woman proceeds to smash her skull in with a stone before burying her rather carelessly under the snow. Moving forward 20 years, we are teleported to Venice in the 1970's; and the arrival of Roberta (Nicoletta Elmi) who has come to stay with her father Franco (George Lazenby) is about to cause history to repeat itself.
The movie is a product of the great Aldo Lado the mastermind behind Night Train Murders, and The Short Night Of The Glass Dolls, Lado is not necessarily the best know of the Italian directors especially to the casual Italian movie viewer, but familiar or not you'd certainly agree Lado's movies have a certain style about them. Here Lado shows a side of Venice that the Italian tourist board would not like you to see, looking dowdy and dirty you can almost smell the dirty Venetian water, add to this a vision of darkness, rain, fog, and cloud cover that you do not think of when Venice enters your mind. Everything about Lado's outlook of Venice is dark and sinister and not the image you get with movies like The Talented Mr. Ripley or Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now even though this is hardly sun filled; on the subject of the Roeg masterpiece I'd go as far as to say that I suspect that Roeg took a little inspiration from this movie as you can easily spot similarities between the two movies, while Roeg painted a harsh image of Venice, Lado's version is far more extreme and explicit. Now don't get me wrong, Lado's vision is not all dark, there are some most beautiful scenes in the movie, for those with a passion for travel, history, and architecture this movie will make you want to visit Venice even more, what is carefully delivered however is the thought "be careful what you cannot see".
Lado scored well with his leading man acquiring the services of George Lazenby (former James Bond) for a song due to his incredibly high debts (caused due to his dramatic over the top spending while filming On Her Majesties Secret Service), and while Lazenby was criticised for his poor acting on Bond and his lack of sex appeal, he was still a big enough name to ensure that Who Saw Her Die? Got a few more bums on seats in cinemas across the world. I should add that if you thought Lazenby lacked sex appeal before, seeing him naked here is not going to improve your views. Sex appeal or not, this movie does prove that the world was wrong about Lazenby and certainly here he proves himself to be a very capable actor. There is a little more Bond-age here in the casting of Adolfo Celi who starred as Emile Largo in the James Bond movie Thunderball. Celi or rather his character of Serafian a sort of Mafioso boss manages to dominate the entire movie, as a shadowy and untouchable criminal mastermind, a man with fingers in many pies. Fear not ladies it's not a male dominated piece and the casting of enchanting Swedish actress Anita Strindberg with her devastatingly striking looks finishes the lead cast off perfectly, an actress who young in her career had already starred in two very successful Italian movies Lucio Fulci's A Lizard In A Woman's Skin, and Sergio Martino's The Case Of The Scorpions Tail; few actresses have the powerful look of this actress, let alone the very capable acting skill as she plays a woman in mourning.
I have now seen Who Saw Her Die? A dozen times, and reviewed it now for the third time; what I love about the picture is that there is a wonderful power that the movie has, forget the horrible story of a child killer, and the further sideline of a depraved group of perverts; the movies great talent is that by the time I watch the movie again I have completely forgotten who the killer is, making Who Saw Her Die? A movie that you can watch again, and again. How many movies do you know that feel fresh with each repeated watching? And how many movies grow in power with repeated viewings? I won't deny the first time I saw this movie I could take it or leave it, but now it makes its way to the top of my list for all-time favourite movies. From its gruelling story, its impressive visual delight by its director Aldo Lado, onto its rather impressive score by Ennio Morricone, this is an all round winner.
Shameless have again gone out of their way to preserve the movie well, it's in my view a far superior print to the US Anchor Bay edition released some years ago, and greatly improved by the additional seconds of footage, and English subtitles over a couple of scenes previously un-dubbed and without text translation. At last I get to see what it is the creepy kids are singing about in an Italian variant of "Ring A Roses".
As you progress through the movie there are a few things I had not noticed before, aided by what appears to be better framing. The movie boasts a 2.0 soundtrack, and a frame ratio of 2.35:1.
The cover features a front image of a hand holding a knife above a corpse the cover text reading "Before Don't Look Now Came... Who Saw Her Die? But Who Will Survive To Tell The Tale?" As has become tradition with Shameless Screen Entertainment releases there is an alternate reverse cover featuring a child like picture with a photo of the character Roberta superimposed on it.
There are some trailers on the disc starting with The Designated Victim a release due on the 8th of September and a movie that has never been seen in the UK before. Strip Nude For Your Killer is a classic Giallo thriller by the director of The Nights Of Terror, another future release is Umberto Lenzi's long unseen Oasis Of Fear also due out with the other two titles in September. As well as a look at the future there are trailers for Night Train Murders, What Have They Done To Your Daughters, and The Black Cat. There is also a trailer for Who Saw Her Die? That captures perfectly the magic of this spectacular film.