The murder of a wealthy countess, which was erroneously deemed suicide, triggers a chain reaction of brutal killings in the surrounding bay area, as several unscrupulous characters try to take over her large estate.
A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant, with only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor standing in her way.
Nora is a young tourist traveling through Rome which takes a sudden turn when she witnesses a murder by a serial killer that the police have sought for years for the so-called Alphabet Killings, and Nora soon finds herself in way-over-her-head trouble when the police want her cooperation to catch the killer while the mystery killer soon targets her for his next victim.Written by
Mario Bava was a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock, and Hitchcockian touches abound in "The Evil Eye" - including a cameo by the director. In the scene where Leticia Roman is in her bedroom at Ethel's home, the portrait on the wall with the eyes that keep following her is that of Mario Bava. See more »
[into the phone]
Oh mother, murders don't just happen like that here.
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AIP released this as The Evil Eye, a recut version with material used just in some countries out of Italy. See more »
(Appears in the Italian version)
Sung by Adriano Celentano
Written and Composed by Adriano Celentano (as Adicel) and Paolo Vivarelli (as Vivarelli)
Published by Edizioni Nazionalmusic and Disco Jolly See more »
This Bava film (whose title is clearly a nod to Alfred Hitchcock), credited with being the first giallo, was also one I could have watched earlier – having long considered picking up the now-OOP Image DVD, not to mention via a DivX copy I've owned for some time – but thought it best to wait for this definitive edition (complete with a Tim Lucas Audio Commentary).
Anyway, I don't know whether it's because I preceded it with Riccardo Freda's delirious and luridly-colored THE GHOST (1963) or the fact that the film retains an incongruous light touch (and leisurely pace) throughout – including the heroine's ruse to ensnare her stalker by the unlikely methods adopted in the pulp thrillers she avidly reads – but, while I enjoyed it a good deal, it felt to me like an altogether minor work from the maestro! Similarly, the murder sequences – a stylized highlight of later giallos – are pretty mild here. Still, Bava's consistent virtues – as a director – for creating tremendous suspense and the fantastic lighting and crisp cinematography that come with his intimate knowledge of the camera are well in evidence.
The first half-hour is pretty busy plot-wise, as all sorts of things happen to the charming leading lady (the striking-looking Leticia Roman, daughter of Oscar-winning costume designer Vittorio Nino Novarese): first she gets involved with a drug-dealer, then the old woman she was to live with dies on her, after which she roams outside in a frenzied state to be held up by a small-time crook and witness a knife-murder across Rome's famous Piazza di Spagna! Her disoriented frame-of-mind is effectively rendered by Bava through simple expedients, such as distorting lenses and focus-pulling. Incidentally, the foreigner-investigating-a-series-of-murders-in-Italy plot line prefigures such notable Dario Argento films as THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970) and DEEP RED (1975). Interestingly, since there was no yardstick for the genre as yet, Bava relied on such familiar film noir trappings as first-person narration to push the story forward.
The film also features a young John Saxon in his first of many "Euro-Cult" outings as Roman's boyfriend and Valentina Cortese as her wealthy, eccentric landlady; the script provides plenty of suspects, but the final revelation comes as a surprise (though, in hindsight, it seems pretty obvious) – and this is followed by a lengthy explanation of the motive behind the killings, which became a standard 'curtain' for this type of thriller. There's an amusing final gag involving a packet of cigarettes and a priest, while Adriano Celentano's catchy pop song "Furore" serves as a motif during the course of the film.
Additional footage was prepared for the U.S. version (snippets of which are present in the accompanying trailer), while the title was changed to THE EVIL EYE and Roberto Nicolosi's score replaced with that of Les Baxter (as had already proved to be the case with Bava's BLACK Sunday )! It would have been nice to have had this cut of the film (which is said to stress the comedy even more) included for the sake of comparison – and it had actually been part of the original announcement for "The Mario Bava Collection Vol. 1", along with the similar AIP variants for BLACK Sunday itself and BLACK SABBATH (1963), but these were subsequently retracted! Incidentally, I now regret not renting the alternate version of THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH on DVD-R while I was in Hollywood – but, back then, I wanted first to watch the film as the director intended.
In John Saxon's otherwise entertaining interview on the Anchor Bay DVD (in which he recounts his experience working on this film and other stuff he made during his tenure in Italy), he erroneously mentions that he worked with director Lucio Fulci – whose name he even mispronounces as Luciano! Despite there being a considerable amount of dead air throughout Tim Lucas' Audio Commentary, it does a wonderful job at detailing the film's background – plus offering his own take on events: it does prove enlightening on several aspects of the film I had initially overlooked, such as how the costumes were carefully chosen to define character or the impressive contribution given by Dante di Paolo (George Clooney's uncle!) as the dour journalist investigating the murder spree. Surprisingly, Lucas also mentions that some of Bava's camera moves are more elaborate and graceful as seen in THE EVIL EYE (which makes me want to see it even more!) – but, then, important dialogue stretches heard in the Italian original involving the creepily asexual voice of the killer were bafflingly left out of the American version!!
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