Strip Nude for Your Killer
directed by Andrea Bianchi
starring Edwige Fenech, Femi Benussi
Although Segio Martino’s stylish giallo film Torso (1973) is widely considered to be a blueprint for what would later become the slasher film, Andrea Bianchi carved out more slasher tropes with his 1975 blood and breasts murder spectacle Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975). The film is very much a giallo but also a for bearer of the vengeance slasher like Prom Night (1980), Terror Train, or House on Sorority Row (1983). The subset of ’80s slashers where the killer is killing off a group of victims as revenge for an earlier, often accidental, death. The frustrating thing about this trope is the film usually only reveals the killer’s motivation when the killer is unmasked. In fact the unmasking of the killer in Strip Nude was copied in Prom Night. The awkward thing about this trope is too often the people being killed aren’t really innocents, or terribly likeable and it makes it more difficult to care whether they live or die. Plus the red herrings fly around as much as the fake blood making the whodunnit impossible to figure out organically and the reveal is often more confusing than profound.
With a provocative title like Strip Nude for Your Killer you expect a high lever of salacious sleaze and it does not disappoint as there is indeed a killer and copious amount of stripping nude. Even by ’70s Eurotrash standards there is a near shocking amount of full frontal nudity in Strip Nude, all from the pre-Brazillian era. As far a the killing goes the film manages to not only fill the bill for giallo thrillers with a gender bending maniac in black, director Andrea Bianchi also manages to squeeze in elements of sex farce as well. There are sequences where you wouldn’t be surprised to see Benny Hill breaking the fourth wall to grin at the camera. Not saying this melange all works, but it is a unique take and it certainly will not disappoint exploitation film fans, but may not be a hit with more hardcore horror fans. The film abounds with varying degrees of sexual violence, some of which is played for laughs that feels even more like a relic in today’s cultural climate.
It opens with an uncomfortably graphic pre-title sequence of an abortion that is just inches from being either scientific or pornographic depending on your point of view. The patient dies in the stirrups and the “doctor” calls someone to help, and they dump the woman’s body into a bathtub to make her death look like an accident. The film proper introduces us to Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo) a sleazy fashion photographer, and the various denizens of the Milan modeling agency/photo studio he runs with models Lucia (Femi Benussi), Doris (Erna Schürer), Patrizia (Solvi Stubing), the agency boss Gisella (Lia Amanda) and her sweaty, creepy, obese husband Maurizo (Franco Diogene), campy gay make up artists Mario (Claudio Pellegrini) and of course the real star of the movie, photographer turned model Magda (Edwige Fenech). Everyone associated with the Albatross Modeling Agency is being murdered by a killer clad in black leather and motorcycle helmet. Prior to make up artist Mario being stabbed he invites the killer into his apartment for a drink making it clear he knows the killer and call them “darling” which keeps the door open for the killer being male or female, since Mario is played rather flamboyantly. The murders continue as do the weird bits of comedy and the dazzling displays of the talents of Edwige Fenech and basically every other female in the cast. By the time the killer is unmasked and revealed as the sister of the woman who died during the pre-credit abortion it is more of a shrug than a shock.
To call this film a sleazy, perverted, exploitative, mess of a movie is not a complaint, but a mission statement. This is a far cry from the artistic aspirations of Dario Argento. The women are beautiful and frequently naked. There are plenty of killings, but none of them are memorable, nor is the cringey comedy. Leading man Carlo is one of the sleaziest jackasses to ever be the leading man in a film. The standout of the entire thing is Edwige Fenech sporting a pixie cut and acting chops better than anyone else on screen. Every scene she is in is improved by her presence. Strip Nude for Your Killer isn’t going to be a hit with everyone, but is sure to be an all time great in some eyes.
Strip Nude for Your Killer boasts a 2K restoration from the original camera negative with English and Italian audio, alternate opening scene, a healthy slate of trailers, and cast and crew interviews. The standouts among the many extras are the new audio commentary by horrorpedia.com editors Adrian J. Smith and David Flint, and Sex and Death with a Smile, a new video essay by author and critic Kat Ellinger. The whole package makes it a must buy for fans or the curious.
The Adrian J. Smith and David Flint audio commentary track tackles the tone fluctuations head on while having a great time with the movie. There is a lot more laughter than you might expect for a giallo commentary, but there is far more comedy and over the top sex and violence in Strip Nude than your average movie. Both a quick to point out when the film bogs down into time wasting filer and also evaluate the film against other movies in the genre.
Diabolique Magazine editor Kat Ellinger wrote and narrates Sex and Death with a Smile, a heartfelt biography and tribute to Edwige Fenech, one of the great 1970s Italian sex symbols whose name, face, and body are nearly synonymous with both giallo and Italian sex comedy. That combo helps explain why she is so perfect in Strip Nude for Your Killer. Ellinger reveals a depth to Fenech and her acting talent that is beyond just how good she looks, dare I say, stripped nude.