|Eli Wallach and Michele Placido|
A series of murders are tied in to a sex club that was run by a man named Hoffmann (John Steiner of Shock) as well as a (true-life) dark children's book. Inspector Lomenzo (Michele Placido) questions a private detective named Struwwel (Eli Wallach) who is being hired for protection by some of the other members of the now-defunct club. A young prostitute who was hired for a party at the sex club and who supposedly died of fright may be part of the puzzle -- or not. As Lomenzo questions other people involved in the case, he encounters Jeanne (Corinne Clery), who was at the party where the prostitute died, and their relationship turns sexual. Now he has to wonder how far involved she was in what happened and in the current series of killings. Plot of Fear has a convoluted plot a la Dario Argento, but where that director's work at its best could be mesmerizing, neither this movie nor the direction of Paolo Cavara is in the same league. The storyline verges on the incomprehensible as well, and the denouement makes little sense. The movie has some suspense, however, and Michele Placido makes an attractive and likable leading man, with a pretty Clery more than competent as his lover and suspect. Eli Wallach gets several good scenes as the detective, but Tom Skerritt, as Placido's superior officer, is on camera for maybe a total of three minutes; he did Alien three years later. The picture has no real style and the non-gory murder scenes are not filmed with any elan. Paolo Cavara also directed the similarly mediocre and confusing Black Belly of the Tarantula. Michele Paolo was a busy Italian actor who later appeared in the homoerotic Ernesto.
Verdict: Mediocre, nominal giallo. **.