…was one of the things Who Saw Her Die? DIDN’T have, which was disappointing considering the content of the trailers showcasing Shameless’ other 1970s movie offerings, including Strip Nude for Your Killer and various other self-explanatory titles. What it DID have, however, was shoddy dubbing, pink 70s blood, masses of pigeons, a skinny, shrivelled George Lazenby and some rather limp and pathetic boobs which appeared on screen for mere seconds before being replaced by more bloody pigeons.
This film reminded me of one of those late 1990s point-and-click PC adventure games, in which stunning but faded backdrops contrasted with poorly drawn, pixilated characters and puzzles that really blurred the line between ‘lateral thinking’ and ‘random’. Here, a grainy Venice of muted browns is the landscape for mysterious killings of red-haired children and the film features some magnificent atmospheric shots, making the city more of a genuine character than the players.
Unfortunately, the depth and heritage imbued in the Italian landscape is wasted on a plot and cast that are so contrived and shallow that any sense of realism is completely destroyed. Not a single character rings true, the parts seeming to consist entirely of entering stage left, saying something pertinent, then leaving stage right. The characters seem superficially interesting but no insight into their personalities is provided beyond the bare necessities of the story. There appears to be no reason behind any of the murders, and any character that might shed some light on what the hell is going on is killed minutes before they get the chance to explain. The unnecessary twists simply make no sense and fly in the face of everything that has gone on before, and the anticipated revelation at the end is replaced with a fat man shouting: ‘He was an imposter! He wasn’t even a priest at all!’
It doesn’t make any sense IN context either.
But there is one thing this film does fantastically, and it does it so well that you can look past the technical issues mentioned above. Throughout the entire hour and 40 minutes of irresponsible parenting and tropical bird feeding, I was well and truly terrorised. This guilty pleasure was due to one thing and one thing only: Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack. The music is sparse but haunting and immediately transforms the film into a work of art. It doesn’t try to blend with the subtle framings of Venice and its inhabitants so much as trample all over them, but it gets in your head, and the theme for the killer is unforgettable. Never has a bit of veil draped over a camera whilst shuffling towards a girl been so terrifying, or a pair of hobnailed boots more sinister.
And that changes everything. Who Saw Her Die? is a film that wishes it were a mystery thriller but is in fact a psychological horror movie. It doesn’t have to make sense because it gets you on a visceral level. And most horror movies have a stupid ending anyway.
Although usually they have more boobs.
And less pigeons.