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Old 08-15-2004, 12:51 AM
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Default Who Saw Her Die?




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: August 20, 2002

Released by: Anchor Bay
Release date: 7/9/2002
MSRP: $19.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes



Children seem to be infallible in horror films. They are often subject to intense stalking and scares, but in the end they always come out alive. Whether it be little Heather O'Rourke from Poltergeist or the busload of camping children from Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives, it has become nearly an unwritten rule that children in horror must never be killed. How refreshing, that Aldo Lado's follow up giallo to his first film, Short Night of Glass Dolls, has not one, but two children robbed of their breath. Who Saw Her Die? has been given a fresh anamorphic transfer and a couple supplements for its release in their Giallo Collection. Let's take a stroll down Venice beach and question Who Saw Her Die?

The Story

inline Image The film begins in 1968 with beautiful, yet solemn, shots of France's winter landscape. The camera then focuses in on a little red headed girl and her mother playing in the snow. The girl goes off ahead of her mother in a toboggan, only to be grabbed by a gloved stalker. The stalker kills her and buries her, and the case goes unsolved. A closed case with no leads, the information is filed away for 4 years until it is needed once again to solve another murder.

inline Image Now in Venice, Franco (Mr. James Bond: George Lazenby) meets up with his red headed daughter Roberta (Nicoletta Elmi) at an airport. Franco and his wife have been divorced for some time now, and Roberta must take turns visiting them both. Roberta is a fearless soul, bravely skipping off in the streets late at night without worry. Her bravery unfortunately becomes her undoing when she is left alone by her friends, only to be kidnapped and murdered by the gloved slasher of four years prior. Franco, who discovers her missing, is driven into a deep fit of guilt and rage, because he should have been with his daughter. Instead, Franco was busy doing the dirty with his new belle, and upon finding Roberta face down in the water a few days later, he vows to avenge her death.

inline Image Like the previous murder case before Roberta's, there is little detail or evidence that has been obtained. All that is known is that the killer is a woman hidden partially by a dark veil, so Franco takes it upon himself to approach numerous people in attempts at obtaining a lead to Roberta's death. In his search and discovery, he uncovers some dark and vile secrets that endanger both him and everyone around him. Will he live through all the madness, or perhaps more importantly, will he discover "who saw her die?"

inline Image Who Saw Her Die? is another excellent giallo picture from the classy Aldo Lado. With his first two films being Short Night of Glass Dolls and Who Saw Her Die? one would expect Lado to rise amongst the masters of the giallo like Dario Argento and Mario Bava, but unfortunately, he chose different waters for his future films, which is a shame. Lado has a talent for producing high quality gialli that work on a number of levels.

inline Image When the young girl is murdered in the pre-credit sequence, Lado cleverly informs the audience that this is not going to be a traditional film. By harming a helpless child, Lado symbolically states that all bets are off in this film, and that nothing is sacred. Anything can happen from this point on, and the premature killing triggers the audience to question everything during the remaining 90 minutes. Like Hitchcock did in Psycho, Lado breaks an unwritten rule in this film, and it pays off for him in spades.

inline Image Also working to Aldo Lado's benefit is some excellent cinematography and a stalwart score by the under appreciated Ennio Morricone. Like his score for Short Night of Glass Dolls, Morricone's score in this film is at times beautiful and at times haunting. Consisting mainly of repetitive chanting from a youthful choir, the music reinforces the childlike vulnerability of the characters and heightens the pathos Franco feels for the death of his young daughter. Only two pieces have been composed for the film, but they are used by Lado in such a way during the film that they always seem refreshing, and always indicate that somebody is lurking.

inline Image The camera work is not quite as exquisite as what was demonstrated in Short Night of Glass Dolls, but still just as good. There is more of a focus this time around on lighting and composition, and the scenes in the latter part of the film with extreme fog or the one's lit only by street lights are extremely suggestive. There are also some scenes that are nearly entirely cast in darkness, adding to the suspense and mystery of the story. Lado, in the documentary, subtly states that his gialli are classy, and thanks to the cinematography and score, he is most certainly correct.

Who Saw Her Die? begins with a spry pace, and is able to sustain that liveliness for well over the half-way mark. The first 40 minutes are so well done that one can't help but feel somewhat let down by the slowly paced 30 minutes which follow it. In his search, Franco visits a number of characters, and his search can be at times plodding. The film, again much like Short Night of Glass Dolls does pickup for the climax, and closes on a positive note. Had some of the red herrings been removed, and the story been more focused, this could have been a near flawless giallo film.

inline ImageAs it stands though, Who Saw Her Die? is still an exceptional film despite its bulky middle portion. Much more of a traditional giallo than Short Night of Glass Dolls was, Who Saw Her Die? stands as not only a high point in Lado's career, but also in the giallo genre. There are only a handful of other giallo films that can be cited as better entertainment than this film. Set aside a few hours and watch this film and Short Night of Glass Dolls back to back and imagine the kind of films Aldo Lado could have made had he stuck with the giallo genre.

Image Quality

Not only does the film bare similar comparisons with Short Night of Glass Dolls, but the 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer here is just as stellar as Anchor Bay's presentation for Lado's previous film. The print is extremely clean and without blemishes. Colors are accurate and although somewhat subdued due to the film's age, are still a beauty to see. The saturation is for the most part spot on, aside from a few faces looking a little pinkish at times. The transfer is also unbelievably sharp, more so than even the vast majority of Anchor Bay's other high quality remasters. Overall, a beautiful visual presentation.

Sound

True to the film's theatrical release is a no-frills Dolby Digital mono sound mix. Everything from the dialogue to the music is very clear and audible. In fact, Morricone's score sounds very forceful and full at times, and the track contains a greater sound field than most mono tracks of such age. Still though, this is only a mono mix, and it is a shame that the wonderful score wasn't able to grace the remaining four speakers in a 5.1 remix.

Supplemental Material

inline ImageAnchor Bay has included supplements much like the one's featured on Short Night of Glass Dolls. Most substantially is an 11-minute interview with Aldo Lado entitled: "Death in Venice: Looking Back on Who Saw Her Die?". Aldo Lado is a very well spoken man, and even though he speaks in his native language with included English subtitles, he still articulates with excitement and comes across very warmly. He provides several informative background on the film, from it's connections to Marlon Brando and to the James Bond films as well as its problems with censors. He also speaks at length about his desire to make films of different genres. At only 11-minutes this feels much longer, and is a must see for Lado fans.

Also included on the disc is a very atmospheric theatrical trailer that runs a little over three minutes. It does not give away too much about the film, and is a nice showcase for Ennio Morricone's music. The menus are nicely done, with Morricone's score orchestrating both the main menu and the extras menu. The main menu is also animated and looks very sharp. A short film listing of Aldo Lado's films is also included, and can also be found on the Short Night of Glass Dolls DVD. Kudos to Anchor Bay for giving this unknown film a nice batch of supplemental material.



Final Thoughts

Who Saw Her Die? is a high quality giallo film that features fine music, performances and cinematography. The story may slow in the middle portion, but it always remains interesting and is highly recommended. The video transfer is beautiful, and the interview with Aldo Lado is also a joy to watch. The audio track is a disappointing mono, but overall this is a great disc. Giallo fans need look no further, Who Saw Her Die? is among the cream of the crop, and this DVD treats the film with the respect it deserves.

Rating

Movie - A-
Image Quality - A-
Sound - C+
Supplements - B

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour, 35 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Mono
Supplements
  • "Death in Venice: Looking Back on Who Saw Her Die?" interview with Aldo Lado.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Aldo Lado Filmography

 

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