Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Crimes of Petiot (1973)

I'm pretty fond of the giallo-lookalikes that the Spaniards produced during the seventies, often with Paul Naschy in the lead or in a supporting part. The Crimes ofPetiot is another of these "Spanish giallos", and this is quite an original thriller with some ideas I haven't seen in similar movies before this one. I'm not sure it's been released on DVD or easy to get VHS anywhere, so I had to watch a subtitled bootleg. But this is one of those thrillers that deserves a restored, English-friendly release.

Set in a snowy Berlin, The Crimes of Petiot tells of a sadistic serial killer in a black coat, gloves and hat who executes - with a gun - young loving couples while getting nazi-flashbacks! The killer also films his evil deeds and send the filmed material to the police! A journalist, Vera (Patricia Loran) takes interest in the case and starts her own investigation. She involves her antique-dealing boyfriend Boris (Paul Naschy) and a couple of other friends. During a stake-out in a park the killer attacks them, but doesn't kill them. Instead he drugs them and leaves a message - he will kill them one by one when they least expect it!

The Crimes of Petiot might not be the smartest thriller in the world of European cinema, but it's not bad. It takes the plots and makes everything so simple - too simple - without any complications and pretends to be serious - but in the end it's just another cheap giallo-rip off with a few very good ideas. The lack of knives and other sharp objects makes it a not so bloody movie, but the executions is powerful and the nazi-flashbacks makes it even harder to watch. It's also a lot more classy than the director's, José Luis Madrid,  earlier collaboration with Naschy, my personal favourite and sleazerpiece Seven Murders for Scotland Yard, but also looses the exploitation-vibe that we all loves so much.

What feels fresh, for it's time, is the theme of the murders and the snuff movie aspect of the show. The script is filled with twists and never gets boring - and I also like the idea of a female journalists that involves her friends and lover in the case, which somehow seem even more realistic than just keeping the case for yourself like in every other murder mystery. This is more like Woody Allen's brilliant Manhattan Murder Mystery than Deep Red, if I can make that comparison - but without the comedy.

Maybe a movie who concentrates more on the plot twists than characters, which means that the actors more or less seem to be left alone with their characters, it's surprisingly effective. Especially Naschy, who as usual gives a lot more energy to his performance than he probably had to. With small gestures and a low-key performance he's the highlight of the movie - without casting a shadow on the other talents.

I understand my review is... all over the place, but it's because it's hard to evaluate The Crimes of Petiot. It's original and still quite generic, with Naschy stealing the show. But it's hard to avoid mentioning that it has a lot of very original and interesting ideas and is competently told by the director and screenwriter José Luis Madrid. I would suggest you give it a try and then tell me what you thought of it. Because I liked it, but maybe I'm wrong as usual?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Never heard of it but as usual with your reviews it sounds a mix with nazisploitation/Peeping Tom etc....

Personally I´m stuck with Hixploitation at the moment...watching Truck Stop Women 1974....but I will try to find this.

Also do us favour and find a bootleg of Sorcerer (1977)....I´m curious to know what you think of it.