The Killer Must Kill Again (1975)
Director: Luigi Cozzi
Writers: Adriano Bolzoni, Luigi Cozzi, Daniele Del Giudice and Patrick Jamain
Starring: George Hilton, Michel Antoin, Chritina Galbo and Eduardo Fajardo

The Plot: George Hilton plays Giorgio, the playboy husband of a rich socialite. Using his wife’s money, he has established himself financially and has several key investments that are about to pay off. However, when his wife suspects him of cheating, she quickly pulls the financial aid from him and he is left out in the cold. When he leaves his wife, he heads out without anywhere to go other than his lover Frederica’s apartment. When he stops to make a phone call to his lover though, he notices something strange going on by the neighboring docks. He sees a very strange looking man pushing a car, with a woman inside of it, off the dock and into the water. Hilton approaches the crazed looking man and the two begin a conversation. Hilton wants his wife out of the picture, this man has killed before, it seems that their chance meeting was a gift. So Giorgio offers The Killer a job, and the two devise a plan to bump off Mrs. Giorgio and make it look like a kidnapping. This way Giorgio can provide a neat alibi and these two can split the ransom money. All seems to be according to plan when The Killer manages his way into the apartment and kills off Giorgio’s wife. However, when The Killer places the dead woman in his trunk and heads back into the crime scene in order to clean up any potential fingerprints, he accidentally leaves his Mercedes running with the keys inside of it and the door open. Luca and Laura are two young lovers who decide that stealing this open Mercedes would be the perfect way for them to catch a ride to the shore in order to have a romantic rendezvous. Unfortunately for them, they will be tracked throughout the following days by The Killer, who wants his car and the body of Giorgio’s wife back.

The Review
There are two very distinct and very important factors that played into me searching out The Killer Must Kill Again. The first of these factors is the most evident, the title. I have written several times, more this month than at any point in this site’s history, about the importance of a title when it comes to marketing in regards to the giallo. I have covered a number of giallo films recently and although we are all familiar with the gimmicks that play out in these movies, often with the titles barely even factoring into the story, but sometimes you simply want bragging rights in order to bring up these strange film titles in everyday conversation. Who doesn’t like namedropping The Suspected Death of a Minor or Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key? The second factor in my tracking the film down was the strange look of one of the film’s key stars, Michel Antoin. He has a very strong look to him, with chiseled facial features that seem to scream “horror movie.” His Frankenstein-like appearance on the poster art was enough to grab my attention and burn its way into my memory. With Mondo Macabro releasing the DVD, it also seemed a good bet that the movie wouldn’t be awful. Although these are purely superficial aspects that dragged me into this movie, they prove to have been a good indicator of a very solid thriller.

With this film, I found a new respect for Luigi Cozzi. Best known for his work on schlocky pieces of Italian scifi/exploitation such as Contagion and Starcrash, The Killer Must Kill Again actually shows that this director could both craft suspense and a visually alluring feature film. Wrapped up in style, this film is shot as beautifully as one would certainly expect from any popular Italian thriller of the time. Featuring excellent use of the frame, dynamic lighting and some utterly amazing set decoration, The Killer Must Kill Again is the perfect example of why this genre of film is so popular with cinema fans. Standout locations within include our main protagonist’s apartment, which is decorated in a ridiculously shiny coat of yellow in nearly every room. Gold and yellow adorn every hall in the apartment, and even the phone somehow manages to match with the color scheme. Cozzi shows an affection for this highly decorative set, because he makes it one of the central locations throughout the entire movie. Clashing with this yellow scheme are the curtains which are of an odd blue and grey design that still somehow manages to match along with the rest of the scenery. Although these films were about their suspense and violence for most fans, the style and otherworldly fashions are part of what makes them eternal. This is what takes a piece of exploitation and holds it above the murky waters of schlock, and actually leads it into a different level of artistry.

The film delves into numerous styles throughout, not just the general giallo format. During the initial part of the film’s big chase, with our Killer hunting down his grey Mercedes, we are shown a fairly amazing bit of cinematic logic. Cozzi uses a dizzying number of wild effects in order to craft an impossibly fast pace for a chase that will last for nearly the majority of the movie. This sequence includes strange fades to black as well as the use of jazz music to give the scene a beatnik feeling that seems more suitable for a student film of the era, rather than an intense cinematic thriller. Throughout this chase Cozzi implements a number of varying stylistic choices. Included amongst these are focused irises around topics that are of interest to the viewer from afar, lots more jazz music, and inevitably an incredible amount of suspense. The film certainly seems to be the type of project that was inspired by the work of Alfred Hitchcock. The principal idea behind the initial killing is a very general piece of suspense building, which seems entirely Hitchcockian to be honest, and Luigi Cozzi’s handling of the tension that it builds is exceptional.

The tension is wrought throughout the duration of the film, almost to the point that it becomes humorous. The bait and switches are so obvious and so often that the audience watches with anticipation to see what the setups will be and how the filmmakers will deliver our lead characters out of them. The trunk is used as a go-to suspense builder throughout the course of the film. We know that there is a dead body inside of it, and the way that our car thieves continually reference it throughout the movie is meant to try the patience of the audience, but instead it becomes a point of true entertainment. During a beach side scene where Luca pontificates trying to get inside of a locked building, he comes up with the brilliant idea that he should search in the trunk in order to find a tool to get the door open (a car jack is what he has on his mind, of all tools). We watch in a tracking shot as he walks in the direction of the car, but at the very last minute we are saved when Laura calls him away. The tiny things like this make the movie. How the film builds its suspense with us watching Luca do his slow jaunting walk up the beach is partly ridiculous, and yet partly brilliant in its simplicity. Most members of the audience can imagine that Luca will be distracted, but you still can’t help but appreciate how tense such a mundane action becomes.

The Conclusion
Although it honestly doesn’t seem fair to call this film a “giallo,” that is the genre that it belongs to. This is an Italian serial-killing thriller made during the 1970s, so how could it be anything else? Easily the best film that I have seen from Cozzi so far, and a very well crafted work of suspense. I give the film an overall rating of four out of five. I highly recommend readers track this one down.