Monday, December 28, 2009

Murder Rock (1984)

It is time to put down down all the facts and once and for all get people to understand that Murder Rock is one of Fulci's strongest and best-looking films from the eighties. In an era when American slasher and Italian giallo became more mainstream, Fulci used every new visual idea and put it all together into an incredibly stylish and complex thriller. And bloodless. Which will scare away fanboys. 

In a New York-based dance school (imagine Fame and similar ideas) a bunch of young girls tries to get a professional dancer-career in the tough world of the shallow showbiz. And yes, they're trying... but not for long...

One night a girl is murdered by a killer in black gloves! Slowly and bloodless, a long needle through the heart. After a very brief period of sorrow the girls are back in competition mode again, ready to be number one!

Inspector Borges (an excellent Cosimo Cinieri) begins to unravel the case and dig up more and more strange circumstances under the seemingly nice and handsome facade. But the killer continues to kill off competition and the question is who it is: the dirty old principal, the bitter dance coach, the lame sound technician, the jealous boyfriend, another student or just the one you least expect it to be?

Of course, Murder Rock is a giallo by the numbers. But the story is, after all, unusually complex, in all cases for be such a late contribution to the genre. It presents more than one suspected murderer, many clues and a camera following every strange thing the characters to. Everything is a red herring! Fulci always knew how to tell the story with the camera, then with dialogue. With smart tracking shots and talented actors, he creates a couple of interesting layers of intrigue and human perversion.

For some reason, the Murder Rock has the reputation of being an orgy of eighties kitch. Which of course is not true. Not more than other films from that time anyway. I guess most of this rumour comes from the clumsy pre-credits with some breakdance-guys showing their skills on a disco floor. Bad editing in this sequence and even worser music by Keith Emerson probably made people think that the rest of the movie was the same, and turned it off. But otherwise it is an unusually restrained thriller with incredibly stylish murder scenes (largely bloodless) and good tension. There are a lot of material shot in New York, and the winter-wet look works great of the movie. 

Olga Karlatos make the role of her life. Ray Lovelock is excellent as the possible killer. Al Cliver and Lucio Fulci himself shows up in cameos. Claudio Cassinelli makes one of his last roles before the helicopter crash that took his life during the shooting of Sergio Martino's Hands Of Steel, and is very good in a role that feels different to what he usually plays.

A great little movie that is worth revisiting - especially on the DVD where the movie looks nothing short of incredibly good. Silly disco and bloodless murders, but it's still a clear evidence that Fulci really was a master when it came to tell a story in a visual and intelligent way.

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