Paul Naschy’s first attempt at giallo is a solid effort; however, the execution of Seven Murders for Scotland Yard (1972) by director Jose Luis Madrid is lackluster. Additionally, the lighting and camerawork by cinematographer Diego Ubeda is dark and uncreative, giving the film the look of a television movie.
I don’t mean that it’s dark in the sense that it’s murky and you can’t see what is happening.
I mean that the backgrounds are dark giving the impression that there’s not much of a set on which the drama is unfolding. Consequently, there’s not much depth or texture to the movie and that makes it look cheap.
It would be one thing if this implied artistry, but when compared to the gold standard of Italian giallo, it’s flat. Naschy’s performance as Bruno (or Pedro, depending upon if you read the cast list or listen to the dubbing) is truly the highlight. His scenes have energy that’s lacking when he’s not on screen.
He’s an out of work, possibly alcoholic, man who’s suspected of committing a grisly set of murders reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. It’s not just that his wife is one of the victims, it’s that he’s a former trapeze artist and medical student who has the athleticism and expertise required to perpetrate such crimes.
It’s alarming how many crimes of a sexual nature are being committed at the moment.
There aren’t many red herrings; however, I never suspected Naschy was the killer. My initial guess turned out to be correct, but not before the film tries to convince us that it’s someone else. In fact, the whole turn of events in which a major witness can identify the wrong person and then Inspector Campbell (Renzo Marignano) learns the truth is a tad confusing.
Two things tease that Seven Murders for Scotland Yard may rise to a higher level. First, there are graphic scenes of people being stabbed. We see blades entering and slicing skin. What’s missing is the bloodshed. Second, there’s a detail that the killer is collecting body parts in his or her lair. It’s squandered, though, and is the closest the movie comes to being a horror film.
On the other hand, the film embraces the giallo tropes of POV shots, black leather gloves, dark cloaks and hats. It checks all the boxes but doesn’t go outside the bigger box to offer a set piece that would make it distinct. This means it’s a pale imitation. I know I’m comparing it to something it isn’t, but still, there’s nothing unique about it.
Written by Tito Carpi, Jose Luis Madrid, Paul Naschy
Directed by Jose Luis Madrid
Starring Paul Naschy, Patricia Loran, Renzo Marignano, Orchidea De Santis, Ar
RT 87 min.
Released July 10, 1972 (Spain), Oct. 15, 1976 (US)
Home Video YouTube
Rating 5 Waldemar Daninskys (out of 10)