Even granted the giallo film's obligatory mingling of sex and death, Strip Nude for Your Killer is one of the more sordid examples to come out of Italy in the mid '70s, a queasy little psychosexual thriller that opens with a botched abortion and ends on a dubious note of buggery-feigning foreplay that's unaccountably played for laughs. The narrative thread is slender to the point of nonexistence, little more than a through line on which to hang set pieces of unabashed lechery and brutal violence rather than any sort of dialectical progression. What story there is uses as its backdrop a fashion-model agency (all the better to fling off all that haute couture) staffed by a roster of seedy character types that reads like a veritable who's who of sexual predators, chauvinist assholes, and closeted deviants. Bear in mind, these are the film's victims.
Like Massimo Dallamano's superior What Have You Done to Solange?, Andrea Bianchi's film exploits the hot-button issue of abortion, albeit sapped of any troublesome political implications, as the motivation for its switchblade-wielding, motorcycle-helmeted killer. In case you happen to lose sight of that fact among all the nudity and salacious goings-on, Strip Nude for Your Killer helpfully flashes back to its blue-filtered opening prior to any act of violence. That violence isn't necessarily stronger than in contemporary giallo films like Argento's Deep Red, but it's more resolutely tied to aberrant sexuality than almost anywhere else in the genre. Take the scene where agency owner Maurizio (Franco Diogene) wheedles and then tries to blackmail Doris (Erna Schurer) into sleeping with him. Blubbering Maurizio's entreaties and threats alike resemble a child's petulant tantrums. You get the distinct impression that he would feel right at home in an oversized diaper. Doris makes it perfectly clear that she prefers Maurizio's wife, Gisella (Amanda), who's already been presented as your prototypically predatory lesbian. After Doris leaves in a huff, Maurizio's about to take his erotic frustration out on a blowup doll when he's struck down by the killer.
Nor does the film present normative heterosexuality in an uncomplicated fashion. The relationship between photographer Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo) and his assistant, Magda (Edwige Fenech), initially seems to mirror similar couples across the genre, their function as amateur detectives part and parcel of the standard contrivance. As far as it goes, that's true enough, since they do in fact unmask the killer's identity. But that's only the half of it. From the start, Carlo's shown to be opportunistically unfaithful, and ultimately he's not above leveling verbal and physical abuse against Magda. More sinned against than sinning, Magda represents a comparatively innocent and uninhibited sexuality. In one scene, she spiritedly disrobes, heaving a sigh of relief and tossing her flimsy undergarment over the camera lens. It's an uncharacteristically playful moment, teasing the prurient camera eye as well as tweaking viewers' voyeuristic expectations.
The film's jaundiced attitude toward sexuality reaches its zenith in the coital coda. Having unveiled the killer as Patrizia (Solvi Stubing), one of the agency's models, Carlo and Magda lie in bed, speculating as to her possible motives. In another one of those post-Psycho postscripts, Carlo proceeds to lay all the cards on the table. Patrizia was the sister of the girl who died during the bungled abortion. Motive enough, perhaps—but wait, there's more. Turns out the sisters shared a more-than-sisterly bond. Carlo intimates an incestuous attachment. More than straightforward revenge, sexual jealousy ends up the prime motivator. This accounts for one particularly grisly murder scene where both victims had their genitals horribly mutilated. Bringing the theme of sexual perversion back home, Carlo ends the film with the suggestion that they avoid the pitfalls of unwanted pregnancy by indulging in a little back-door action. All the attendant giggling and squirming, meant to convey a measure of levity, fail to conceal the batshit craziness of closing the film on such a note.
IMAGE / SOUND:
Newly remastered from a camera negative, Strip Nude for Your Killer's 1080p/AVC transfer boasts warmer, brighter colors and a slightly reframed image. On the down side, squalls of noise float across the frame during brightly lit scenes, while black levels in certain underlit scenes are closer to gray. The former complaint is nothing new for Blue Underground's '70s Italian titles, and it's never pernicious enough to really spoil things, but that black crush is definitely worse than usual. An optional Italian-language track supplements the English-dubbed track carried over from Blue Underground's DVD release, though the latter remains the default. Both tracks are presented in DTS Master Audio mono. The Italian track is louder overall, lending added depth to Berto Pisano's funky bass-and-sax score. Also, as you might imagine, the dialogue is often completely different than in the dubbed version. Gone, for one, are some of the more atrocious puns.
Also carried over from the DVD release, the featurette "Strip Nude for Your Giallo" provides interviews with co-writer Massimo Felisatti and actress Solvi Stubing. Felisatti starts things off by discussing the influence of Gualtiero Jacopetti's World by Night, an early '60s mondo film, on relaxing sexual mores in Italian cinema, leading to the proliferation of softcore or "sexy" films. The next step was crossbreeding this genre with the giallo, an unwholesome experiment that brought forth Strip Nude for Your Killer. While Felisatti seems to have no quarrel with the film's sexual content, he says he found director Andrea Bianchi's fascination with its gory violence and sexual mutilation a bit off-putting; to distance himself from the sadistic content, he came up with the ploy of giving Bianchi his own "story idea" credit. Solvi Stubing discusses her early days as the "Peroni beer girl" (a montage of vintage ads and TV spots is included), which was the gig that made her career, before going on to explain the qualms she had about moving into films requiring nudity. Stubing says she took her cue from star Edwige Fenech, who seemed unfazed by anything she was asked to do in front of the camera. Felisatti and Stubing both remark in passing how tame the film looks compared to modern-day horror films. Rounding out the extras, there's a photo and still gallery displaying promotional lobby cards, posters, and VHS box art, as well as a handful of production stills.
Strip Nude for Your Killer is a salacious slab of sex-and-stab cinema, given a definitive Blu-ray upgrade by Blue Underground.