SMILE BEFORE DEATH (1972) Reviews of Giallo soon on Arrow Blu-ray

  

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Smile Before Death is a 1972 Italian Giallo thriller film about a teenage girl who suspects her stepfather of killing her mother.

Directed by Silvio Amadio (Amuck!) from a screenplay co-written with Francesco Orazio Di Dio and Francesco Villa, based on a story by Amadio and Francesco Merli.

The Domizia Cinematografica stars Jenny Tamburi aka Luciana Della Robbia (The Psychic; Frankenstein, Italian Style; The Suspicious Death of a Minor), Silvano Tranquilli (Black Belly of the Tarantula; Web of the Spider; So Sweet, So Dead), Rosalba Neri (The Devil’s Wedding Night; Lady Frankenstein) and Hiram Keller (Lifespan; Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eyes).

The soundtrack score was composed by Roberto Pregadio [as Bob Deramont] (The Last House on the Beach; Death Carries a Cane; King of Kong Island).

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Blu-ray release:
Smile Before Death is being released by Arrow Video as part of the Giallo Essentials: Black Edition collection on July 26, 2022. The other two films in the box set are The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive and The Killer Reserved Nine Seats.

Limited edition contents:
Brand new 2K restorations from the original camera negatives of Smile Before Death and The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive
2K restoration from the original camera negative of The Killer Reserved Nine Seats
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of each film
Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks on Smile Before Death and The Killer Reserved Nine Seats
Original lossless mono Italian soundtrack on The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive
English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
Rigid box packaging with original poster artwork in a windowed Giallo Essentials Collection slipcover
Reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais, Peter Strain and Haunt Love

Disc One: Smile Before Death
Brand new audio commentary by authors and critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
Original Italian and English front and end titles
Smile of the Hyena, a brand new video interview with Stefano Amadio, film journalist and son of director Silvio Amadio
Never-before-seen extended nude scenes, not used in the final film
Image gallery

Disc Two: The Weapon, the Hour, the Motive
Brand new audio commentary by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
A Man in Giallo, a brand new video interview with actor Salvatore Puntillo
Front and end titles for the lost English-language dub
Image gallery

Disc Three: The Killer Reserved Nine Seats
Brand new audio commentary by author and critic Kat Ellinger
Hanging with Howard, a video interview with actor Howard Ross
Writing with Biagio, a video interview with screenwriter Biagio Proietti
Italian theatrical trailer (in Italian and English)
Image gallery

First pressing only: individual illustrated collector’s booklets for each film, featuring new writing by Rachael Nisbet, Barry Forshaw and Peter Jilmstad

Review:
A middle-aged woman, Dorothy Emerson, is seen suffering a violent death in a bathroom. A police report concludes that she committed suicide by slashing her own throat with a shard of broken glass because she had been drinking heavily and the door was locked from the inside.

A teenage girl, Nancy Thompson (Luciana Della Robbia), unexpectedly arrived at the deceased mother’s country villa. She meets Gianna (Rosalba Neri), a photographer and Dorothy’s former best friend (who had been living at the villa as a long-term guest), and they strike up a friendship.

It soon becomes obvious that Gianna and Marco (Silvano Tranquilli) are having a relationship. The teenage girl’s natural charm intoxicates both of the older pair and jealousies soon develop. More significantly, having been alerted by the housekeeper Magda (Dana Ghia), Nancy begins to suspect that her mother’s death may not have been suicide…

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Clearly influenced by deceit–ridden erotic thrillers such as Paranoia and A Quiet Place to Kill, Silvio Amadio’s Smile Before Death is an object lesson in how audiences should never trust what they see and hear in the Gialli.

A detailed review would reveal too many other pleasurable twists that lie in wait for viewers. Suffice to say that this is an alluring cinematic treat that benefits from an underlying sense of kinkiness including some eyebrow-raising interactions. The ending is perhaps a tad too tidy but at least it’s not predictable.

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The three leads are all excellent – Tranquilli has never been slimier and Neri proves once again that she can act the pants off most Euro femme fatales – and special mention must go to Luciana Della Robbia who convincingly goes from being a seemingly sweet innocent to a predator with a surprising agenda.

Yet, what really makes Smile Before Death such compulsive entertainment is Roberto Pregadio’s infectious soundtrack score which features some groovy organ twiddling with delicious vocals by Edda Dell’Orso – although some may find the repetitious use of variations of the same musical motif maddening rather than captivating.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:
“Silvio Amadio only made one other Giallo and that would be Amuck! Much like that film, this one also proves that Silvio was perhaps more interested in filming gorgeous women misbehaving as he was showing the kills when it came to Giallo. No matter. This movie has plenty of plot to go around and I was genuinely surprised by the conclusion of this caper.” B&S About Movies

“A throwback effort more focused on the sleazy goings-on and the intricate double-crosses than actual stalking and slashing, this has a lot to like for fans of this format.” Don’s World of Horror and Exploitation

“A mild recommendation, this well-acted Giallo with plenty of nudity and a decent mystery is more than OK for genre fans. However, the hint of familiarity to Amuck! and a dreadful theme song do threaten to derail it a bit. Rosalba Neri is a definite standout, but Jenny Tamburi is fine too.” Shameless Self Expression

“Another gloriously trashy confection with much to recommend. The set-up is familiar enough, but Amadio and company take it down some unexpected avenues before the final surprising review. In the film’s cynical landscape, nobody is to be trusted entirely. Even the protagonist proves to be morally compromised.” Troy Howarth, So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films: Volume 1 1963 – 1973

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” …Smile Before Death essentially inverts the premise of Amadio’s more widely celebrated Giallo Amuck! (1971) […]  the film cops out with a rather silly and convoluted case of karmic retribution. A reminder that no matter how salacious, the Giallo genre was often guilty of pandering to square bourgeois morality.” The Spinning Image

” …Smile Before Death turns out to be far more exceptional than originally thought, that gradual, almost lethargic opening ultimately serving a definite purpose and with each twist, becoming better and better. Neri is as fantastic as always, her presence a boon to any picture though Robbins almost steals the show as the scheming daughter.” The Telltale Mind

“What makes this a joy is the fab soundtrack, gaudy shagadelic decor and fashions, continual nudity from Jenny Tamburi, and a fast pace. Thank god there’s not the typical Giallo police detectives boringly putting the pieces together. No sir, not this film.” Video Zeta One [includes a slew of salacious images from the movie]

Choice dialogue:
Marco [Silvano Tranquilli]: “Be careful. With all your traps, you’ll roast yourself like a chicken.”

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Cast and characters:
Luciana Della Robbia … Nancy Thompson
Silvano Tranquilli … Marco
Rosalba Neri … Gianna
Hiram Keller … Dorothy’s Lover
Dana Ghia … Magda
Zora Gheorgieva … Dorothy
Luigi Antonio Guerra … Giovanni
Fabio Garriba

Technical details:
1 hour 24 minutes
Technochrome Kodak Eastmancolor

Original title:
Il Sorriso Della Iena ” The Smile of the Hyena”

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