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Author Topic: Too Beautiful to Die / Sotto il vestito niente 2 ( Dario Piana,1988) WITH PICS  (Read 5443 times)

ecc

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While we're on the subject of NOTHING UNDERNEATH getting an upcoming video release, what do people think of its sequel TOO BEAUTIFUL TO DIE?


The film opens with the shooting of a "Victoria's Secret"-type lingerie ad featuring four models (Randi Ingermann, Helena Jesus, striking Norhana Arrifin, and Gioia Maria Scola) shot by video clip director David (Francois-Eric Gendron).  The four models are invited to a party given by an investor and the other three models help him rape Sylvia (Scola) in a hottub.  She runs off into the night.  The next morning at a music video shoot called "Blades" (though the music played is Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Warriors of the Wasteland"), a detective arrives and informs them that Sylvia has been found dead in the wreckage of a fiery car crash.  Thinking the death to be an accident, everyone goes on with their normal lives.  David must find a new model for the lead in the video and notices Melanie (Florence Guerin) dancing at a club (an effective sequence set to one-hit-wonder Kissing the Pink's one hit "Certain Things are Likely" that intercuts her dancing with her audition the next day - though both the audition and the club dancing look considerably more athletic than the gyrating that most of the dangers seem required to do in the actual video).  She wins the role and moves in with one of the models (Arrifin).  During a photoshoot on the water with the models seemingly dressed in parachutes (scored with Huey Lewis and the News' inexplicable hit "Perfect World"), the detecive tells them that Sylvia's death was not an accident.  A bullet was found in her skull.  Not only that but there seems to be a wide gap of time between her "leaving the party" and the discovery of the burning wreckage that no one can account for.  After one of the models is bizarrely murdered (in the video she is placed in an iron maiden with rubber spikes but one of the spikes turns out to be real), the other models fear for their lives as the killer steels one of the bizarre futuristic blades and goes a stalking.  Other potential victim/suspects are the rapist, the sleazy agent, and the director.  Even Sylvia is above suspicion as her file reveals that she comes from the same town in America as Sylvia.


The film's plot is nowhere near as diverting as NOTHING UNDERNEATH but the point is the visuals and music video director Dario Piana is more than up to the task (he hasn't directed a film since but I remember reading his name attached to an in-development American horror film recently).  The music video and photo shoot scenes are strikingly edited and scored although Piana relies on slow motion a bit too often which becomes boring (a montage of the new roommates having fun, a Toto-scored sex scene).  The characterization is as shallow as the characters (even Bava managed to inject a little bit of interest into each of the cardboard characters of the script for BLOOD AND BLACK LACE).  The only character who isn't portrayed suspiciously is of course the killer.  Roberto Cacciapaglia's score is unspectacular (the main title sounds like an instrumental of "Slave to Love" while the rest is sub-Bernard Hermann strings that are nowhere near as interesting as Pino Donaggio's Hermanesque work on NOTHING UNDERNEATH).  Florence Guerin's lead is far less interesting than Scola or the three models.  There's also something a bit off about the ending (which reminded me of THE COLOR OF NIGHT) which is supposed to be tragic and sad but then segues to the end credits underscored by the Huey Lewis tune heard earlier.


I have a couple versions of this: a DVDR from the widescreen Japanese Columbia release (a trailer for the film can be seen on the Columbia release of Peter Del Monte's ETOILE), the cut UK tape from Colourbox, a widescreen German tape that looks just as gorgeous as the Japanese release, and a cropped Italian tape on producer Achille Manzotti's own label (he also produced the first film as well as ETOILE and TWO EVIL EYES).  I also have a Japanese pressbook which inexplicably includes an image of the killer's face among many color and black and white stills (a marginal film but this is quite a treasure).


ecc

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NOTE: All of the caps have been brightened and sharpened for viewability.  This is not an indication of the quality of the Japanese tape or the DVDR of it (though the Japanese release is probably the best source).

Johan Melle

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Nice review!  :P

I only wish there was a version that looked as nice as your pictures because to me this film could just as well have been titled TOO DARK TO ENJOY! Seriously, it's way too dark as Dario Piana seems to like light about as much as Count Dracula does. It was obviously shot very dark and while it's still easy to see what's going on, everyone's faces are so draped in shadows, it's hard to make them out. Very annoying!

The film itself is OK, though. Not great but it perks up in its second half and has a nice climax. It's funny how Florence Guerin is set up as the heroine but then fails to really appear much in the film. Instead, Randi Ingermann steps up and kind of becomes the lead after spending the first half of the film as a complete cipher. I'd like to see a DVD with perfect colors turn up. Might well improve on things.

Btw, how did you figure out who is Helena Jesus and who is Norhana Arrifin? They don't have any other credits and I always wondered who was who. Are they identified in the Japanese pressbook you mentioned?

ecc

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Quote
Btw, how did you figure out who is Helena Jesus and who is Norhana Arrifin? They don't have any other credits and I always wondered who was who. Are they identified in the Japanese pressbook you mentioned?

Yes, the pressbook does identify them with their names under their pictures (I think they have bios but the text is Japanese) and there is an English cast and crew list beneath the Japanese text on the last page.

vigilanteforce

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I like this film. Good giallo of the late 80s. Sure these films are usually cheesy but I love the visual style...
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ecc

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I like this film's visual style (except for the slow motion stuff which just drags) but I prefer PATHOS and the non-giallo DOMINO by Ivana Massetti.

Johan Melle

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How about FASHION CRIMES (1989)? Anyone seen that one?

ecc

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I'm not a fan of FASHION CRIMES.  It starts out well enough (the main title song was also used in Joe D'Amato's boring TOP MODEL) but just isn't very interesting.  Miles O'Keefe doesn't make a very convincing psychiatrist and Anthony Franciosa seems bored.  I used to have a Dutch tape of it.

Johan Melle

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Well, I never cared much for Miles O'Keeffe but I've always enjoyed Franciosa. Too bad, though I I'll probably still give it a spin at some point.

vigilanteforce

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Miles O'Keefe doesn't make a very convincing psychiatrist

He makes a very convincing commando though, check out THE HARD WAY and DOUBLE TARGET  ::)  :)
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