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Luciano Ercoli's The Death Box Set (1971-1972)

Cast: Nieves Navarro, Nieves Navarro, Simon Andreu, more...
Director: Luciano Ercoli, Luciano Ercoli
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: NoShame Films
Genre: Cult, Foreign, Horror, Suspense/Thriller, Slashers, Italy, Italian Horror, Crime, Giallo
Languages: English, Italian
Subtitles: English

Luciano Ercoli's The Death Box Set: Death Stalks in High Heels (Disc 2 of 2) (1971)
Like his more famous La Morte Accarezza a Mezzanotte (1972), this delirious Italian-Spanish co-production from filmmaker Luciano Ercoli is a star vehicle for his wife, Nieves Navarro, who appeared in several giallo thrillers (among other genre roles) under the name Susan Scott. Navarro plays Nicole, a famous French stripper whose father is stabbed to death on a late-night train. The police question her about some missing diamonds, she begins receiving threatening phone calls, and the poor woman is even assaulted in her own bedroom by a masked maniac with frighteningly blue eyes. Nicole's personal life is hardly less complicated, as she runs off to the seashore with a British eye surgeon (Frank Wolff), causing her insanely jealous boyfriend (Simon Andreu) -- who happens to own a pair of blue contact lenses -- to follow in a murderous rage. The loopy Ernesto Gastaldi screenplay is loaded with some outrageously contrived set pieces, and bears more than a passing resemblance to another one of his scripts, Lo Strano Vizio Della Signora Wardh (1970), in its concluding intrigue. The similarity is notable precisely because that film starred Edwige Fenech, whom Navarro was doing her best to unseat as the queen of giallo heroines at the time, as the lady in distress. She does a fairly good job here, burdened as she is with a demented screenplay and her husband's often overreaching direction. The overall effect isn't likely to win much crossover viewership, particularly in light of an avalanche of the genre's more noteworthy examples on DVD in the early 2000s. Giallo devotees, however, are likely to enjoy the film for its very artifice, as well as a nice score by Stelvio Cipriani and a cast including genre regulars Jorge Rigaud, Jose Manuel Martin, and Luciano Rossi.

Luciano Ercoli's The Death Box Set: Death Walks at Midnight (Disc 1 of 2) (1972)
A favorite among fans of outrageously bad films, this bloody, convoluted thriller deals with a model named Val (Nieves Navarro), whose tabloid-reporter boyfriend, Gio (Simon Andreu), talks her into experimenting with drugs. While she hallucinates, Val looks out the window and sees a man in dark glasses smashing a spiked iron glove into a woman's head until blood splashes into the camera lens. When Gio publishes the story, Val gets fired and is stalked by a psychopath. Before it's all over, there are trips to mental hospitals and graveyards, as many as four different killers taking part in three separate frame-ups, a cat with a slashed throat, and a ludicrous rooftop fight scene featuring choreography rarely seen outside of bad Asian karate films. The high point has a hitman (who laughs like a hyena) throwing a knife between two buildings only to have Gio catch it in a shovel-handle. Most of the film consists of people calling Val crazy or stupid, only to have Val slap them or knee them in the groin, spitting "Go to Hell!" before marching out of the room. The remaining scenes have Val herself being slapped around, followed by all the men she previously told to go to Hell smashing each other through skylights and pushing each other's faces into bags of quicklime. The screenplay (by Ernesto Gastaldi, Sergio Corbucci, and others) makes very little sense, but is such laughably camp fun that it doesn't matter. ~ Robert Firsching, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

Luciano Ercoli's The Death Box Set: Death Stalks in High Heels (Disc 2 of 2) (1971)
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10.00 (3 votes)
Luciano Ercoli's The Death Box Set: Death Walks at Midnight (Disc 1 of 2) (1972)
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8.00 (7 votes)

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