The Plot: The Killer is Still Among Us details the path of a real life serial killer who stalked the streets of Florence and was appropriately known as The Monster of Florence. Our story focuses on a criminology student named Cristina who is often given very specific details on crimes that are committed locally. She decides to take this case head on for her thesis and soon finds herself wrapped up in a world of voyeurism, pimps and prostitutes. At night the city streets become a dark place where voyeurs spy on young couples while they think they are privately parking out in secluded areas. Our killer takes advantage of these naive youths and shoots them dead and then follows up his murders with the desecration of their bodies. Cristina, while trying to track down the killer, meets a local doctor who is given the job of looking over a couple of the bodies and he tells her what he has discovered during the autopsies. Cristina and this doctor soon begin to date and as the film progresses, we discover that the killer could literally be ANYONE around her and she may very well be the killer’s next target!

The Review
It probably isn’t a great idea to head into any project expecting to see something overtly “grisly”, especially if you are a gore hound. You immediately set yourself up for disappointment. Well, in terms of violence I suppose you could say I was slightly disappointed with The Killer is Still Among Us, but I quickly adjusted my attitude after only a few minutes into the movie. It is readily apparent from the introduction that this is a movie that eschews pure violence and gore for a study on criminology and a real focus on paranoia and the unending chase for justice. At the time of watching this movie I did not realize that the project was based upon the actions of a real life serial killer but in retrospect it certainly seems obvious. The random killings in the film seem far from the glamorized view of murder that seemed so prevalent throughout the lifespan of the Giallo and the small details that seem to pile up throughout the film are certainly in keeping with re-enactments. Still, just having a story that is based off of reality does not a good movie make.

The film starts with a double homicide where we see our killer brandishing a pistol and shooting a random couple who have wandered off into the woods in order to park and make out. This is the first moment where you stop and say to yourself “well, this isn’t going to be your average Giallo”. Guns are almost never used within these movies because of their immediacy. You don’t torture a victim using a gun and although there is a certain amount of fear wrought from a firearm, our heroes more often than not are the ones brandishing the pistols. The killer here takes on a ‘Son of Sam’ style killing spree, where he mainly targets women. You have to ask yourself, due to the content and the fact that this killer doesn’t even use a knife, can it still be considered a Giallo? I have to say, yes. We are given that familiar crux of a plot where a youthful sleuth sets out on a case in order to find out the perpetrator of these crimes, all while the filmmaker does their best to dabble in as much experimental style as they possibly can. This isn’t David Fincher’s Zodiac. Although I am sure the filmmakers held respect for the original case, there are so many things going on with The Killer is Still Among Us that I just can’t help but doubt some of its authenticity.

With that comes another question, does the movie break through the levels of bad taste? Dramatizing a series of murders is an issue that pushes the limits of good taste by itself, but doing so while adding in this offtopic focus on a fictional character who thrusts their paranoia and accusations on random characters throughout just seems to be an ill advised thing to do. There is a certain amount of invented melodrama here that looks to create entertainment and one has to ask themselves at some point whether there really should be entertainment in a concept like this one. However, taking the question of “good” or “bad” taste off of the table, does this movie succeed as a legitimate thriller? Well, in my eyes, it does. With it being a very late entry into the Giallo subgenre, the budget seems to be on the lacking side and the visual flourishes hurt because of that. For the most part the “look” of The Killer is Still Among Us is in line with a Made For TV Movie for the most part. Our leading lady, rather than wearing stylish and vibrant costumes seems to be stuck in a very bland attire that one simply expects from a mid-eighties business woman. That means thick, ill fitting sweaters and a short all-business haircut! While watching though, you can see what the filmmaker was going for and there are many interesting shots throughout including a few very interesting (although they are brief) tracking shots.

The movie does have some high quality tension that is built throughout and the paranoia angle does become palpable, so for all intents and purposes the movie feels like a resounding success. The violence is a little overrated amongst horror fans, but it certainly serves its purpose. The exceedingly violent torture of one particular female stands out as the most bleak and horrifying scene in the film. Although I don’t want to give too much away, I will say that there is a certain amount of sexual violence that really pushes the envelope in terms of nastiness. The scene won’t be too horrifying for those who have seen Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, which is a big hint as to what you can expect, but for the time, era and genre this scene definitely pushes the boundary of good taste.

The Trivia
  • The Monster of Florence, or Il Mostro, was responsible for sixteen unsolved murders between the years 1968-1985.

  • The true story of this killer is currently in the process of being made into a Hollywood feature, although it is doubtful that there will be any onscreen genital mutilation!

  • The Conclusion
    The Killer is Still Among Us is a mixed bag to say the least. It has some really good elements to it and then there are the ingredients to the gumbo that simply make it feel rather generic. The project ultimately feels disjointed at times and could be considered rather forgettable in the end. I think my overall feeling is that it’s an interesting project that remains engaging throughout, but at the end of the day it is perhaps too indebted to genre-trappings to stand out. I give it a three out of five and recommend it primarily to Giallo fans alone as they will remain the most interested parties.