#25. The Wife Killer (1976)
Nature of Shame:
Unwatched Mondo Macabro DVD
Hoop-tober Challenge Checklist:
Country of origin: Greece
I’ve never seen a Greek horror movie. Come to think of it, the most Greek movie I’ve probably ever seen was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I’ve had this movie on my shelf for a few years so what better time to toss it in and taste a Greek-style giallo. Maybe with some baklava because baklava makes everything better.
Because I’m still dropping #31DaysofHorror reviews in the middle of November, I’m going to start taking a few liberties with these “reviews.” Like copying plot synopses from the DVD distributors:
Penniless playboy Captain Jim is in hock to his rich older wife, Helen. She has even bought him the fancy yacht that now bears his name. But Jim does not want to be Helen’s toy boy any more. He wants to marry his lover, Laura. He pays a psychopathic killer of women to murder Helen so that he will inherit his wife’s millions. But the psycho killer has his own plans. Suspecting Jim will double cross him, he engineers a complex scheme that will give him the upper hand. Very much in the style of the violent and baroque “Giallo” thrillers from 1970s Italy, The Wife Killer is a twisted, shocking and brutal exploration of the devious male psyche. Previously only released to cinemas in a cut version, this is the first official DVD release of the film in the U.S., complete and uncensored.
Here’s the thing about “giallo” type thrillers: they can go a few different ways. The film must decide how it’s going to go about its business. The Bava and Argento school preaches hyper-stylization and the importance of visual setpieces over narrative. The alternative methodology leans on the Poliziotteschi (Italian police procedural) for its backbone and merely borrows giallo tropes.
What we have here with Kostas Karagiannis’ The Wife Killer (aka The Rape Killer, aka Death Kiss) is a film firmly rooted in the furthest reaches of the Poliziotteschi side of the spectrum. While the murders are frequent, the dry presentation offers no visual spectacle to alleviate the viewer from the difficult on-screen brutality.
So the murder’s favorite weapon? A knife, right? Every good giallo killer uses a knife. Maybe a hatchet? No? Okay, so he strangles them. Wait. He slaps them silly? You’re putting me on.
No, good sirs and madams, I am not. The Wife Killer’s favorite method of attack is the open-faced palm slap. And repeat. One slap murder is okay. Two is comical. Three is a crowd. I’ve never seen so much slapping in a movie this side of Airplane!
Despite the slaps and tangled machinations, I found The Wife Killer to be an incredibly slow film without much payoff. That said, I’m not a huge deep-cut Poliziotteschi fan and I prefer my gialli in the hands of Bava or Argento or their hyperstylized disciples. But if a twisty and brutal Poliziotteschi film dressed in deranged marital disharmony sounds like your cup of tea, I encourage you to seek this one out.
Final The Wife Killer Thoughts:
The film’s alternate and seemingly more common title — The Rape Killer — suggests a kind of base depravity that’s just not present. The Wife Killer makes more sense because the film largely just concerns a violent, depraved misogynist. Occasionally uncomfortable, always 1970’s-brand grimy and gritty, but mostly forgettable. If you’re not familiar with Poliziotteschi or gialli films, seek something better. If you’re an expert devouring whatever world cinema has to offer, by all means sample this Greek slice of Italy’s genre cinema.
30Hz Movie Rating:
The Wife Killer is available wherever you find depraved world cinema.
2017 @CinemaShame / Hooptober Shame Statement
31+ Days of Horror. 33 Horror Movies. 33 Reviews.
#1. Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) / #2. The Devil Doll (1936) / #3. The Velvet Vampire (1971) / #4. Mill of the Stone Women (1960) / #5. The Initiation (1984) / #6. Poltergeist (1982) / #7. Night of the Lepus (1972) / #8. The Black Cat (1934) / #9. The Raven (1935) / #10. Friday the 13th (1980) / #11. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) / #12. Body Snatcher (1945) / #13. Dismembered (1962) / #14. From Hell It Came (1957) / #15. Symptoms (1974) / #16. Eating Raoul (1982) / #17. Spellcaster (1988) / #18. The Old Dark House (1932) / #19. House (1985) / #20. House II: The Second Story / #21. Christine (1983) / #22. Suspiria (1977) / #23. The Invisible Man (1933) / #24. Spider aka Zirneklis (1991) / #25. The Wife Killer (1976) / #26. Cannibal! The Musical (1993) / #27. The Wicker Man (1973) / #28. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) / #29. Night Creatures (1962) / #30. Nosferatu (1922) / #31. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare / #32. Day of the Dead (1985) / #33. Psycho II (1983) / #34. The Green Butchers (2003)