Check out her other RPS lists here:
Scary Season is the perfect time to highlight a few thrillers and horrors that might get overlooked among 1978’s many gems.
Bloodstained Shadow, a slow-building and great-looking giallo, has a touch of Don’t Look Now with its dark, eerie little tours and stalker’s-POV camera trips through Venice, plus one memorably scary boat chase in the canals. Random killings are connected to an old cold case and a terrible secret. The weird crimes and bizarre abuses, along with the misdeeds of notorious local creeps, trigger the repressed memory of a visiting academic (Lino Capolicchio, who was in the great The House with the Laughing Windows, and reminds me of James McAvoy here) who’s in Venice to see his priest brother.
Deadly Chase is one for the Luc Merenda completists. Here the handsome Eurocrime icon plays a police inspector who loves his cat and gambles too much, and, unsurprisingly, is desired by all kinds of women. He’s drawn into a big mess of murder, loan sharking and epic marital strife when one woman asks him to uncover the “truth” about her brother’s “suicide.” This film moves quickly with less action than you’d expect for this genre; it’s really more of a sleazy spin on a classic hard-boiled private-eye whodunit. This was also the last movie for Luciana Paluzzi, best known from Thunderball.
The Evil, a gloriously hokey Gothic horror wherein Professor Richard Crenna’s giant, dilapidated new mansion isn’t so much haunted as possessed and parked on top of a Hellmouth. Despite his wife Joanna Pettet’s intense willies and warnings about a powder-white apparition, a spontaneously combusting diary and a moving sculpture, Crenna can’t resist opening a trap door in the basement. All evil breaks loose, and locks Crenna, Pettet and a group of their friends and colleagues in the mansion, throws them around like rag dolls, then bumps them off in impressively grisly style. That’s all prelude to the struggle with the dapper white-suited Final Boss living in the White Hot sub-basement. Also starring Andrew Prine, Cassie Yates, Lynne Moody.
Terror is a spooky and stylish British Giallo heavily inspired by Suspiria. It begins with a great opening sequence about a mad witch cursing a family and their home, THE END. Turns out that’s movie producer John Nolan showing his guests the film he made about said curse on his family home. Right on cue, said curse begins taking out the cast and crew of his current low-budget movie. Filmmaking is bloody murder in this one, with deadly set “accidents,” floating cars, film reels and fog machines with minds of their own. There’s a boarding house for aspiring actresses run by an aging screen diva, there’s a boffo final sequence and Hammer-style abrupt ending, and some clever comic relief. You won’t soon forget Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew’s menacing line: “You want a mechanic?”
Also be sure to check out other 1978 favourites of mine: The Great Train Robbery, China 9 Liberty 37, Absolution, The Medusa Touch.