Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Troubled professor and inquiring cop: Alex Cord and Enzo Tarascio

THE DEAD ARE ALIVE (aka L'etrusco uccide ancora/1972). Director: Armando Crispino.

Professor Jason Porter (Alex Cord) is an archaeologist exploring Etruscan tombs in Italy. His ex-girlfriend, Myra (Samantha Eggar), is now married to temperamental maestro Nikos Samarakis (John Marley), who hates Jason and vice versa. Jason tries to rekindle things with Myra, and accuses her of having a thing for her stepson, Igor (Carlo De Mejo). Igor's mother, Leni (Nadja Tiller), claims she and Nikos were never divorced. However, the big problem is that some maniac, who plays loud chorale music on a small tape player, is running around bashing and killing people, especially romantic couples, in the ruins; the weapon is a metal tubular probe used in underground photography. Suspects include all of the aforementioned, as well as a blackmailing guard named Otello (Vladan Holec), Nikos' mousy secretary, Irene (Daniela Surina), and Stephen (Horst Frank), the choreographer for the latest production that Nikos is conducting [why some of these people are wandering around the ruins in the first place is a question]. Jason realizes at one point that the murders seem to mirror scenes in ancient Etruscan paintings, but wonders how anyone could have entered the tomb to see them before the official opening. Inspector Giuranna (Enzo Tarascio) tries to discover the truth, but the real truth is that The Dead Are Alive can't make up its mind if it's a mystery, a horror film, or a twisted family melodrama, and doesn't quite work on any level. The movie is much too long and convoluted and I defy anyone to figure out the motives of the killer when he or she is finally unmasked. The mixed-bag international actors are okay, but unable to do much with the material.

Verdict: Initially intriguing but it goes on and on and on ... **.

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