Most helpful critical review
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2014
Its great to see this hard to find movie available on DVD, but it didn't really provide a lot of thrills or tension to me. The story tells of a rich heiress named Joanna who is confined to a wheelchair due to a traumatic childhood injury. She spends her life developing various upper-body sporting skills like archery and fencing, and finds romance with her sports therapist, but it seems like her past is coming back to haunt her in the shape of hallucinations and various murders going on around her.
Now, my first thought as I watched the start of the film was anger at Shameless giving away the fact that her boyfriend (David Warbeck) is the killer by plastering this all over the sleeve of the DVD, which really isn't necessary and is a very selfish decision to use this plot twist to enhance their marketing. Way to go, Shameless!! I am sure their defence will be that the film gives away this fact in the first 30 minutes, but yeah, those 30 minutes prior to that twist are effectively ruined, as the story is doing it's best to set up red herrings like Joanna's pouty assistant Ruth, who appears to have romantic designs on Joanna herself! All for nothing.
Anyway, so once we see the unveiling of Warbeck's intentions, the film keeps going for another hour, and I will say that things do pick up as Joanna becomes more and more terrorised by his evil scheme. The last 20 minutes of the movie are well staged, as Joanna literally fights for her life without the ability to walk, but just her sporting strength to help her survive. There are several acts of violence in the story but for anyone hoping for Italian style giallo-splatter, you're not going to get it here. The special effects are very poor, all we get is a lot of the old theatrical fake knives and razors which squirt blood when pressed against skin, and it really looks rubbish. On the plus side, David Warbeck does get to bash someone's brains out with a heavy church artefact, which looks painful, and there's a brief shot of scissors spearing someone's hand. I know it sounds perverse to rate the amount of violence, but let's face it, this is what the film is peddling, so it should be doing it well.
Although the performances are all fair, the English dub does not help. Christina Nagy does well in the pivotal role of Joanna but her dubbed voice diminishes the veracity of all of her scenes of peril. She does seem to be speaking English (as does Warbeck), but the post-shoot dubbing still makes a mess of her performance. The other sad thing is that the film has not aged well fashion wise, and it's a real shame that Joanna spends the last 20 minutes of the film (the only part which has any tension) wearing a hideous outfit with a massive collar that makes her look like she's dressed as a clown.
All in all, this is not a rediscovered gem, but just a passable thriller. There are other lost Italian shockers out there that could have a much bigger impact if released on DVD (Giallo A Venezia, Nero Veneziano to name two), so here's hoping Shameless can carry on looking. Just keep your mouths shut about putting plot spoilers on the cover next time eh?