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Horror Movie A Day: Quint on NAKED YOU DIE (1968)
This thing is heavy! Maybe there’s a dead body inside.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.] Now this is a bizarre little movie. I can’t really say it’s particularly well done. The big twist is telegraphed from the opening 5 minutes, the kills are without any real sense of danger or mood and the photography is bright, devoid of any atmosphere. However, this is something compelling about the film that I’m still trying to put my finger on as I write this column.

I think a lot of it is how it acts as a precursor to the career of Dario Argento, who kind of took this giallo formula and added in tension, atmosphere and a pre-Lynchian fucked up bizarreness that became cornerstones of his career. Also, the lovely Italian (and English) girls cast in the movie don’t hurt the eyes, either. Essentially what you have in this film is a direct precursor to SUSPIRIA, set in an all-girls boarding school, but outside of that and the POV of a gloved killer there’s very little to compare to Argento’s work. The movie opens with a murder of a woman taking a bath, where the NAKED YOU DIE title comes up, of course. Because she is naked. And dies. The movie delivers on the title in the first five minutes! My favorite part of the opening actually involves what happens to the girl after she dies. The unseen killer puts her body into a trunk and we follow that trunk as it’s put on a taxi, loaded onto a bus, etc and then it’s delivered to the boarding school as the baggage of one of the people within the bus. Which gives us a very interesting opening, pretty much telling us that one of the four or five people we meet in the bus is the killer. We have a few different characters… a handsome riding instructor (BLACK SABBATH’s Mark Damon) returning from holiday, an older man who is the new Gym teacher, the Peter Lorre-looking creepy groundskeeper and a quiet, well-kempt woman, another new addition to the staff.

I really dig this set-up, but the movie kind of squanders it, never really getting scary. And if you’re not scared of this phantom killer, if you can guess the identity of the killer before the bus even arrives at the school, then the rest of the time it seems the movie’s trying to catch up to where the audience already is. And I’m not one to see twists coming. I don’t typically figure out endings to movies. I usually don’t spend the movie trying to guess what’s going on, rather I tune into the story and flow along with it. So, me saying I saw the ending coming means it’s pretty damn obvious. I actually blame the dubbing job (the film was in Italian, with English subtitles) that tipped the hat too early. But even with those flaws, the girls are actually pretty interesting. We soon learn that the dead students who start popping up were mostly mistaken for one of the main characters, Lucille, played by the hazel-eyed beauty Eleonora Brown, a rich heiress waiting to take control of her riches on her 18th Birthday, which is quickly approaching.

She’s in love with Damon, which means for a lot of sneaking around. At one point he becomes the main suspect and I’ll give them credit for almost throwing me off my initial guess at the killer’s identity, but ultimately I found my theory to continue to strengthen as the movie went on. One of the other girls, Jill, played by English actress Sally Smith, is one of the highlights of the movie for me. She’s a bouncy, wide-eyed aspiring crime writer who spies on the investigating team that comes in after another girl is found dead. Michael Rennie, of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL fame, plays the lead detective who doesn’t do much more than sit around the principal’s office and ask questions. He’s mostly there to find Jill eavesdropping at the door and give her someone to bounce her enthusiasm off of. She’s not scared at all about the killings and seems to view it all as material for her book.

The movie is very ‘60s which also helps, I think, in its watchability. It’s in that weird middle ground between ‘60s thriller and ‘70s exploitation/giallo filmmaking. There is nudity, but it’s very quick and delicately handled. The killings are usually not more than gloved hands around the neck of the victim. And the atmosphere is definitely swinging ‘60s in color and costume. There’s even a crazy up-beat psychadelic swinging pop tune called NIGHTMARE that would sound more at home on an episode of the Adam West BATMAN series than in a horror film. An interesting side-note… apparently Mario Bava was an uncredited writer of this film, directed by Antonio Margheriti, better known to genre fans as Anthony Dawson, director of CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE and YOR, THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE, among other flicks. Final Thoughts: The movie is very flawed, but still compelling thanks to hitting that sweet-spot I talked about earlier between ‘60s thriller and ‘70s exploitation. If the twist was hidden better, it’d be one of the most shocking reveals of the era. If the kills had any real atmosphere or menace, then I think this would be a gem of the genre. As it stands now, the characters are likable and quirky enough to keep you engaged, but it’s ultimately a pretty forgettable, if enjoyable, movie. Now check out this shameless poster for a US release promising a radically different movie. The flick was also released under the title THE MINISKIRT MURDERS, FYI.

Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October: Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here! Now’s the the time to pull the next HMAD! Next up is:

The reputation this one has isn’t good. Moriarty actually tried to get me to take this one out of the drawing pool because he said it’s so shitty. Maybe so, but c’mon… it has Charlie Sheen, Randy Quaid and Clint Howard! There’s got to be something to take away from THE WRAITH, right? See you folks tomorrow for that one! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave

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