There are certain expectations that come with genre films. What is a genre except a set of criteria that help define different types of films? Once in a while, a film will come along that is so inventive, so creative that it breaks free of a genre’s expectations which then sets the standard for all films in that genre that come after it. When a film is so inventive, it sometimes creates its own subgenre. Afterwards, many subsequent films try to imitate the first film's success with diminishing returns. Eventually what was inventive becomes cliche and films can slip into outright parody of the genre.
There were gialli before Dario Argento but it was his 1970 The Bird with the Crystal Plumage that solidified the hallmarks of the genre and put giallo on the international map. Many, many imitators followed, some good, and as we will see, some not so good.
Strip Nude for Your Killer contains most of the Giallo ingrediants - a knife-wielding, black-clad killer; a funky soundtrack; a confusing plot; loads of violence; and deviant sex - but it doesn’t do anything new, inventive, or interesting with them. Other than turn it all up to 11.
It begins with a nude woman lying on her back, legs in stirrups. A man stands in front of her barely obscuring her bits and pieces. She is getting a back-alley abortion (which was illegal in Italy at the time this film was made in 1975). Something goes wrong and she dies. Everyone involved with the abortion then cleans her up and moves her back to her house, place her in the bathtub, and remove all indications of what happened. Soon after, the doctor is brutally killed by someone wearing a black-leather racing suit and a motorcycle helmet. More murders occur and it becomes apparent that they all have a connection to the Albatross Modeling Agency. Two photographers from the agency Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo) and Magda (Edwige Fenech) begin investigating the murders.
The plot is very loosely structured. It is mostly a series of unrelated scenes involving various people connected to the agency who are either having sex, trying to have sex, getting murdered, or a mixture of the three. The mystery is uninventive. The murderer is clearly motivated by the botched abortion, which is pointed to in the opening scene. Then reiterated by the killer stabbing the victims in the abdomen and mutilating their breasts and genitals. As if it still wasn’t clear, the film flashes back to the dead girl in the bathtub just before another murder is committed. None of the murdered people are interesting enough to garner any sympathy nor make me care that they are being stabbed to death. The murders themselves aren’t particularly interesting or inventive, and the filmmaking is pretty standard.
As one might presume from a giallo entitled Strip Nude for Your Killer, the film is filled with copious amounts of nudity though strangely no actual stripping for the killer. One expects a certain amount of gratuitousness in this type of film, but hardly a scene goes by without someone getting naked for no apparent reason.
Case in point: one scene involves a woman laying naked in bed when she hears some strange sounds as if someone has broken into the house. She doesn’t put on any clothes - no pajamas, a robe, or even the bedsheets - but walks about the house completely nude. She hears more noise, but even knowing that a sadistic killer has been brutally murdering her friends, she doesn’t bother to get a weapon, call the police, or put on a t-shirt. The camera, of course, lingers. Over and over and over, moments like this occur. Inevitably, no matter the scene, someone (usually Edwige Fenech) is going to be without their clothes.
The sex includes lesbianism (which for the time was pretty provocative in a film), incest, and the goofiest attempted rape I’ve seen in awhile. The obese owner of the Albatross pushes one of the models into his car and races across the city to his apartment. There, he begs her to have sex with him and when she refuses, he tries to force himself upon her. Not wanting to get hurt, she then agrees to have sex with him but he can no longer get it up. After consoling him, she leaves and he then grabs a blow-up doll, telling it she’s the only one that can make it work. He’s then stabbed in the throat. The whole film ends with anal sex as a means of birth control used as a punchline. Which is a terrible joke but kind of sums up this whole movie.
Arrow Video presents Strip Nude for Your Killer with a brand new 2K restoration from the original negative and a lossless mono soundtrack. It has a 1080p transfer with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Extras include an audio commentary from Adrian J. Smith and David Flint, a video essay on Edwidge Feneche by Kat Elinger, and several interviews. There is an option to watch the opening scene with a normal color scheme or with a blue tint as was present in some of the original prints. It also comes with the usual trailers, image galleries, and a full-color booklet complete with an essay on the film.
I can’t in any way recommend Strip Nude for Your Killer. It is a bad film even by the low standards of low budget Italian horror. If you are a giallo completist, then this release by Arrow is an excellent way to own it. All others should not apply.