Don’t Answer the Phone! (1980)

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The old saw regarding the difference between the sexes goes, Men are afraid that women are going to laugh at them, Women are afraid that men are going to kill them. So it goes here, in this ghastly exploitationer from Crown (who else). Written and produced by Michael D. Castle and Robert Hammer, who directed. A Nam vet stalks the streets of LA tracking and raping and murdering women. He calls a radio shrink to inform her of his ill-health and kills a victim on air. His porn photos lead police to his door. This is sick and ghastly and impugns vets. It’s why people watch Downton Abbey. Frasier this ain’t.

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1969)

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Or, how a spaghetti western writer (Once Upon a Time in the West!) created the European slasher film with a stylish twist in this chic Roman giallo thriller. Dario Argento made his directing debut with this tale of an American writer (Tony Musante) who happens upon a near-homicide in a gallery and he and his girlfriend (Suzy Kendall) become the prey of an unhinged serial killer while assisting police. If it seems a tad familiar it’s because it’s a riff on The Screaming Mimi which was already filmed under that name earlier in the decade in the US. Wonderful camerawork and sheer chutzpah camouflage a few plot holes but this set Argento on a long and brilliant career. It’s hard to see it in the cut originally intended since it varied from territory to territory but worth catching any which way you can as it just hasn’t dated. And Maitland McDonagh has written a wonderful study of the man and his influential films which is a great read. See this first!