And Then There Were Nine – Rediscovering ‘Nine Guests for a Crime’ (Italy 1977 – 88 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - March 06, 2014
And Then There Were Nine – Rediscovering ‘Nine Guests for a Crime’ (Italy 1977 – 88 mins)

A pretty good tropical take on Agatha Christie’s ‘Ten Little Indians’, the Italian thriller ‘Nine Guests for a Crime’ is one of the better 70’s giallos. Featuring some fairly gory killings, familiar female nudity, and the usual, mysterious black-gloved stalker, it moves along at a reasonable pace, and has a pretty decent pay-off.

A bickering, upper-class family are being killed off one by one at their Mediterranean retreat, by a mysterious assassin. Does it have something to do with the usual greed for inheritance, or does it go back to a ruthless shooting committed by family members some 20 years prior? Is the victim really dead, or was he buried whilst still alive, and is now back for revenge? So many questions, and it’s all pretty standard stuff, but is nonetheless fairly engrossing. The villain is pretty easy to figure out, but the reveal at the climax is still enjoyable, and the ending explosive!

‘Nine Guests for a Crime’ is your standard 70’s euro-thriller, complete with beautiful people and awkwardly filmed sex scenes, where the actors look more uncomfortable than erotic. It’s a little clunky in places, but for all its faults, the movie remains a decent little thriller, that moves along briskly towards its pleasing finale.

The strong male cast is better than expected, and the supporting ladies are very easy on the eye. Screen great Arthur Kennedy, makes another of his latter day forays into exploitation territory, and is his usual solid self as Uberto, the stern family patriarch. Italian genre favourite, John Richardson plays Kennedy’s impotent son Lorenzo, and acclaimed Italian actor Massimo Foschi gives the films best performance as Uberto’s bed-hopping son Michele.

Gorgeous Caroline Laurence (from ‘Emmanuelle 2’) has the best female role, as Kennedy’s young wife Giulia, an obvious candidate for chief suspect. Sofia Dionisio (sister of the more famous Silvia) also pops up as early victim; Carla, the frigid wife of Michele. Beautiful Loretta Persichetti plays Kennedy’s daughter Patrizia, who seems to sense the foreboding that awaits them all. Rita Silva plays the most promiscuous role, that of Lorenzo’s cheating wife and blatant tease, Greta. A familiar face from the 70’s exploitation, Rita committed suicide in 1994 when she jumped from a window.

Director Ferdinando Baldi had previously made the cult euro-westerns ‘Texas, Adios’ (’66) and ‘Django, Prepare a Coffin (’68). Baldi followed this movie with a far more controversial one, the ultra-sleazy 1978 revenge flick; ‘Terror Express’, with Silvia Dionisio.

‘Nine Guests for a Crime’ is an overlooked variant on the ‘And Then There Were None’ theme. A nifty pre-credit murder, live burials and unfaithful family members picked off one by one, all add up to an intriguing mystery, and is definitely worth the time of any giallo fan. It also features one the most stunning locations for this type of movie. A ‘no escape’ island locale where family secrets and sins are no longer buried, and quite literally, family skeletons are revealed.

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