Giorgio Mainardi (George Hilton) plays a greedy, scheming husband who has been looking around for a good way to knock off his rich wife given that she’s on to his philandering ways and about to deprive him of his cash flow. One night, while making a clandestine call to his mistress from a secluded phone booth, Giorgio espies a man (Antoine Saint-John) loading a corpse into a car and pushing it into a reservoir. Rather than report the incident, Giorgio makes his presence known and threatens to expose the nameless man unless he kills Giorgio’s wife. Thus the killer must kill again, not due to a psychotic compulsion, but to avoid blackmail.
The killer successfully insinuates himself into the wife’s swanky art-deco home and strangles the woman to death. He loads the body into his car trunk under cover of night and returns inside to shut off the lights. When he comes out again the car is gone! A pair of joyriding young lovers (named Luca and Laura) have made off with the vehicle and are heading to an abandoned beach house for some hedonistic fun, completely oblivious to their corporal cargo. The killer hotwires a nearby car and gives pursuit.
Cozzi’s premise, while not a mystery, is compelling enough to kickstart the movie. Unfortunately the twenty minute car chase and the drawn out conclusion at the beach house hold far less narrative punch. Cozzi pours some low-budget tricks into the driving sequence to milk it for what he can, but there is only so much you can do with lens flare and fake-out scares. I was surprised to see a pair of camera iris shots, although whether I should read them as desperate filler or brilliant creativity, I’m not entirely sure.
Another noticeable comparison between the husband/wife and Luca/Laura pairings is the use of sets. The film is divided by location into three consecutive parts: Giorgio’s house, the car chase and the beach house. The first set is an amazing parody of ugly urban sterility parading as a trendy middle-upper-class apartment. Its yellow interior, vertical lights and hip furniture lacks any hospitality or humanity.
In comparison, the beach house is modest and decorated with aging sailing relics. The stone walls are crumbled in places and the wood is sagging and covered in grit. While Giorgio’s antiseptic display of wealth and “taste” turns out to be a breeding ground for corruption, the humble beach house provides a chance for revenge and redemption. Giorgio, Luca and the killer, as immoral male figures, all get their comeuppances in manners befitting their respective social classes, but only the pure-hearted lower-class Laura, of the three female characters, can transcend her victim role.