Director: Dino Tavella
Writers: Paolo Lombardo, Gian Battista Mussetto, Dino Tavella, and Antonio Walter from a story by Dino Tavella and Antonio Walter
From: Pure Terror (only 2 remain!)
A SCUBA diving serial killer is murdering women in Venice and embalming their bodies to keep as trophies.
Not a whole lot going on in this sub-80 minute feature. In Venice, a SCUBA diver hops out of the canals and drags away women he’s been stalking. He takes the bodies to his sunken lair to embalms and display them. The police don’t have any leads. In fact, they’re regarding the disappearances as accidents that they just haven’t found the bodies for. A local reporter suspects otherwise. His hypothesis is that there’s a sex maniac kidnapping and murdering the women. He has nothing to back up his suspicions though, so they’re dismissed.
The reporter meets a group of vacationing students and falls for their chaperone. She introduces him to an archaeologist at her hotel who's seeking out a sunken monastery. Meanwhile, the murders continue.
The archaeologist realizes the monastery must be below the hotel. When he goes into the basement to start looking for a door, he’s found and murdered. The reporter starts putting the pieces together and realizes, based on stories told to him by two drunken street cleaners, that there’s a SCUBA diver using a secret underwater passage. He goes diving looking for the entrance.
Meanwhile, the chaperone realizes her room has a two-way mirror and that someone’s been peeping on her and/or her students. She goes to the apartment of the hotel manager and finds a secret passage leading below the hotel. She finds the killer, is chased through catacombs, and strangled just as the reporter arrives. He chases the killer, they struggle in a piazza on the surface, and the police shoot the killer. It was the hotel manager the whole time (which was obvious because he appeared for only two scenes way back at the start of the movie and was never mentioned again). The police note they wouldn’t have believed the story if they didn’t have his body there. THE END
The movie doesn’t drag, but it doesn’t have any energy to it either. It’s just sort of nothing. A key problem is the characters we follow don’t have any investment in the murders. The reporter isn’t digging that hard, the police aren’t investigating, and the chaperone and her charges don’t even know anything is going on. It’s not until one of her students is taken by the killer that the main characters have a direct investment in solving the case, and then it's very nearly the end.
That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have a body count. The killer is consistently picking off victims. The issue is that the victims aren’t characters so we’re not worried about them and there’s no tension of the killer stalking and attacking them. Each victim only has three scenes: being spotted by the killer, taken by the killer, and embalmed by the killer. There are no misdirections, no near misses, and no struggles. Without those, there’s also no tension around the killer.
So it’s a bit of a curious film for that reason: a thriller minus thrills. As I said above, it’s short and, to its credit, doesn’t wallow in any seediness the way similar movies might. Even though you have a peeping tom, you don’t have any nudity and there’s no suggestion of sexual assault by the killer. So it’s inoffensive, but also unexciting, and I’d suggest giving it a miss.