Directed By: Mario Bava
Written By: Marcello Fondato
Story By: Mario Bava & Giuseppe Barilla
Cinematography: Ubaldo Terzano
Editor: Mario Serandrei
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Arianna Gorini, Mary Arden, Franco Ressel, Dante Dipaolo
Isabella, a young model is murdered by a mysterious masked figure at a boarding house run by Max Morlan and his lover Countess Christina Como. When Isabella’s boyfriend is suspected of the killing, her diary, which apparently has some incriminating evidence linking her to the killer, disappears, the masked killer begins killing off all the models in and around the house to find the diary.
This film is done in a classic style. Where it almost feels like a period piece with all the costumes and grand production design in the background that is eye catching.
As it feels all very intricate. The film comes across as a macabre soap opera, complete with a masked mysterious killer. As a murder leads to a diary full of secrets and blackmail material. Whoever possesses it, seems to be the next victim. As all who possessed it also have a reason for it to be destroyed as well as seem to be a suspect.
This is only my third Mario Bava Directed Film. (The others BLACK SABBATH and DANGER: DIABOLIK) Though his style is recognizable and quite delectable. He certainly had a signature style and his films are full of color that feels more classic and old school. Where it is more focused in style, mood, tone and set-up that feels more grand even for a more small scale story.
This film manages to mix fashion and horror. Which together when it is more about styles.
The kills in this film come across more as torturous. Especially if you add the grand lifestyle of the characters and inherent melodrama. Though through it all the film comes across more as a mystery.
The literal backstabbing nature of the female characters. Who mostly depend on their wealthy successful men. Though they are usually conniving so called hunks.
The atmosphere of Large desolate intricately decorated sets. Empty of people mostly. As the film has very few cast members overall.
The kills come off as Kind of fetishistic as the victims expire barely dressed and writhing around before they Expire begging for mercy and after looking like mannequins
This film could almost be a theatrical production. If not for the number of locations. Which seem to be mostly grand houses with secret lairs and passageways.
Where production design and art direction take over, but are more secondary but art to the overall picture.