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Watch Me When I Kill – Special Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Synapse Films went back in the Italian fold last month (October) by releasing one the more cult of cult items when it comes to the Giallo sub-genre of horror, Watch Me When I Kill. The 1977 Antonio Bido thriller starring Franco Citti, Fernando Cerulli, Giuseppe Addobbati, Gianfranco Bullo, and Jill Pratt finds itself getting a luscious 4K make-over with a brand new transfer from the original negatives of the film. In addition to the many bonus features stamped on the disc (I’m not sure if they are new or if some are ported over from a previous DVD release as I am a newbie when it comes to Watch Me When I Kill), the soundtrack from the film featuring the prog-rock band Trans-Europa Express is included. You can find the film available from Synapse Films, Diabolik DVD or any online retailer really, including Amazon where a link is readily available for your click (Which I am now obligated to tell you nets me a very small percentage of the purchase).

Film 

Antonio Bido (The Bloodstained Shadow) directs this shocking Italian giallo! Mara (Paola Tedesco), a beautiful young nightclub dancer, witnesses a brutal murder and soon finds herself stalked by an animalistic gloved killer! While enlisting the help of her boyfriend Lukas (Corrado Pani) to track down and stop the maniac, the mystery surrounding the killings is slowly uncovered. As more bodies are found and secrets are uncovered, the truth behind the masked slasher is much more horrifying than anyone could imagine!

A fun thing has happened in the advent of Blu-ray (Or maybe just getting older or learning more about film or maybe just “getting it”), but I became a huge fan of Italian schlock cinema as real appreciator and not in some sort of ironic way. More particular, the Giallo genre was one I didn’t care or understand. Having spent plenty of time QC’ing DVDs for Blue Underground and Severin Films in the early OO’s, they were a total yawner and not fun for my work day. But now, with better/correct transfers and quality, I’ve come around and I really enjoy the practice of making black trench coat, gloved killer gory murder mystery movies.

Watch Me When I Kill is one I wasn’t familiar with. And while I was eager to see it and appreciated a lot going on, it just wasn’t up to snuff for me. Antonio Bido’s film has some terrific camera work, style and suspense, but overall I’m the sort that probably wants some more sloppy, screwy and exploitative things when it comes to a giallo. I guess I’m knocking the film for being competent? That sounds like I’m super stupid here. To Bido’s credit, he doesn’t give in and holds true to his murder mystery, making the whole thing actually work from the start and actually flips genre tropes in many respectable ways. For instance, the killer wears a lighter white/peach colored pair of gloves and the films big shower/nudity moment is a frail old many scrubbing himself up in a tub.

Overall, the mystery starts with a nice hook and a weird musical stage sequence, but gets a bit too dry as it goes on and I found myself caring less about who did it and just wanted somebody off’d. Also, when people are off’d its just a simple line of blood across the neck (I’m the guy who wants a bucked of that Italian blood gushing out). Our lead is like a little children’s birthday party Charles Bronson, which is kind of fun and our lead female only sits and complains about the case not being solved yet. While flipping tropes it also follows some of the less fun ones. Overall, I didn’t hate it, but its probably going to be one of the giallo I forget about or never care to reach for it.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Watch Me When I Kill arrives on Blu-ray with a new 4K transfer of the original negative with color correction performed by Synapse Films. And wow, this thing looks gorgeous. Just goes to show, whenever Synapse Films releases a restoration, you should always expect top tier quality. This one has a rich crispness, full colors and is loaded with some terrific details. This is one of those restorations that really make a film worth having another look at if you saw it before and weren’t too keen on it. You may find a whole other appreciation to it with this restoration.

Depth: Spacing is on point here and characters and environments feel loose and free from one another. Movements of characters and camera work flows free and confidently, adding more to the beautiful photography in the movie. No motion distortions like blurring or jittering occur in the film.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and leaving very close to natural levels in many a dark scene. No details are lost that weren’t intended to be and sometime grain runs a little heavier in the black areas. NO crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite lavish and beautiful here, especially popping on fabrics and articles of clothing. Other colors tends to hold their own being bold and natural. Whites come across with good nuance and texture.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial details and textures are clear as day from any reasonable framing distance. Stubble, freckles, wrinkles, make-up brush strokes and more are quite discernible and visible.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA, Italian 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English (Italian Mono), English SDH (English Mono)

Dynamics: The mono tracks for Watch Me When I Kill has a pretty well mixed track featuring some good space and balance between the effects, score and vocals in the film. Said vocals are up a bit louder to the other two, but are nice and clear. That’s a plus considering this is a dialogue-driven film. Some of the sound effects do come off a bit muffled and light, but that’s likely something unfixable without having to re-record as they’d always been that way.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with an analog hiss laying the backdrop at all times.

Extras 

Watch Me When I Kill – Special Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring an alternate poster design and a CD of the film’s soundtrack by Trans-Europa Express.

Audio Commentary

  • By Film Historian and Author Nathaniel Thompson

Isolated Music-Only Track

U.S Opening Title Sequence (HD, 7:36)

Original Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:20)

Original Television Trailer (HD, :35)

Original Radio Spots (HD, 1:27)

Antonio Bido Short Films

  • Danza Macabra (HD, 14:15)
  • Marche Funebre d’une Marionnette (HD, 7:22)
  • Mendelssohn im Judischen Museum Berlin (HD, 12:29) 

In Defence of Watch Me When I Kill: Featurette (HD, 10:55) – Academic Mikel Koven provides his defense of the movie along with examples and relishing on moments to show its brilliance and why it should stand tall among all Giallo.

Summary 

Watch Me When I Kill features some good direction and visual splendor, but for me its on the very average/also ran level for Giallo films,  leaving me not a whole lot to stand out. However, Synapse Fims’ presentation is an absolute standout with a marvelous image and sound quality. Put it together with the soundtrack and nice array of extras (Including 3 short films), you’ve got yourself a pretty nice, complete package for a niche item in a niche subgenre. Fans should be very pleased with this terrific release.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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