Aldo Lado’s film opens in 1968 with the unconvincing murder in a snow-covered forest of a flame-haired young girl called Nicole. Moving forward to 1972 and enter former James Bond George Lazenby, sporting seventies long hair and droopy moustache. Lazenby plays Franco, a gaunt looking sculptor who has brought his coincidentally flame-haired daughter Roberta to Venice. A bespectacled Aldolfo Celi, later to find fame in the UK as Rodrigo in the BBC’s best forgotten drama The Borgias, plays Franco’s rather shifty artistic agent, seemingly determined to visit Beirut at the first available opportunity. This is an intriguing opening but the remainder of the film never really lives up to it.
Venice provides an impressive backdrop to the tense goings on, and the cinematography is one of the film’s few redeeming features. The safety of young Roberta is constantly called into question, whether she is innocently buying an Ice cream in the middle of the night (as one does!) or taking part in a delightful ring o’ roses game with lyrics translated from the Italian as “Who saw her die… la, la, la… ” Each time a moment of danger is implied, the camera adopts the would-be villain’s point of view and the soundtrack adopts an irritatingly urgent burst of choral music. It comes as little surprise when Roberta goes missing. The girl is found drowned in the canal soon afterwards and the film begins to lose its way as George Lazenby’s Franco attempts to discover who murdered his daughter.
Who Saw Her Die would like to think of itself as some kind of precursor to the classic 1973 Nic Roeg supernatural chiller Don’t Look Now. The truth is it’s not even in the same league as Roeg’s masterpiece. At best it falls somewhere between a below-par Euro thriller and a “so bad it’s good” kitsch period piece.
The film relies on the misty Venice docks for much of its atmosphere, but the heavy editing “style” merely serves to undermine any dramatic structure and adds confusion as the viewer is invited to second-guess the outcome of many scenes. The dubbing is dubious throughout, reminiscent of Saturday morning European TV serials such as The Flashing Blade. Even Lazenby’s English language voice is out of sync at times. The film uses some very unrealistic bright red blood which devalues any moments of true horror, and the final unmasking of the villain has all the subtlety of an episode of Scooby Doo.
The extras are frugal: a confused mess of a trailer and the obligatory Shameless showreel of trailers. The latter has clearly been tacked on to improve the standing of the main feature. From the showreel the other films look ropey to say the least.
Running Time: 90 mins approxExtras: Theatrical trailer and Shameless showreel