13 September 2017



I loved this one, a giallo from the mid-'Seventies by a director who made his name in the genre. Giallo means an Italian thriller or horror in either literature or film. The word itself means yellow in Italian, the actual colour yellow which was associated with a certain kind of lurid, yellow-backed paperback novel that first made an appearance in Italy after World War Two.

The giallo films contain elements of mystery, slasher horror, pschological horror, supernatural horror and crime. Supernatural horror is my favourite kind, crime probably my least favourite. This one's pure crime, but I fancied the arse off the leading man, the dreamy Claudio Cassinelli, so it's all good, haha. 

Any genre can be sexed-up with the right leading man, and the giallo genre is a sexy one anyway, with a fantastic score that seems like a mix of organ and electronic music. The music here is just- quite literally- to die for...

I thought the title was a metaphor before I watched the film but no, there are actual crimes being committed here and actual minors (as opposed to miners...!) being bumped off, murdered, killed, slaughtered, sent to their Maker and what have you. It's the perfect blend of Italian giallo or murder mystery/thriller and the emerging 'poliziotteschi' crime thriller that was becoming popular at the time. Don't say I never teach ye anything...!

Claudio Cassinelli plays Paolo Germi who, with his longish dark hair, permanently-cracked glasses and snug-fitting 'Seventies slacks, is the very model of a 'Seventies European heart-throb. He's an undercover cop investigating money laundering and the deaths of several beautiful young women who've been lured off the straight-and-narrow and into the seedy world of prostitution by bad men. Well, who else would it be?

Prostitution seems to be everywhere in these films. It's certainly everywhere in this film, anyway. I love the way that the hookers are not all stick-thin supermodels, either. Some of these hefty dames are carrying some serious weight around with them, I can tell you.

Maybe they charge by the pound rather than by the hour...! I think the film-makers probably do this to make their product appear more gritty, the way a good housewife (I'm not one myself, by the way) would add something to their stew to thicken it up a bit. If I were a good housewife, I'd know what that something was called, wouldn't I? Answers on a postcard...!

Germi's assistant in investigating these underage-hooker murders is a young thief called Giannino, who only steals to feed his old mum and younger brother. He's a nice guy really. He and Germi have some great fun nicking the handbags off hookers on Giannino's moped/scooter-thing before things start getting really dangerous and down to the nitty-gritty.

There's a hired killer on the young hookers' trail, another attractive, longish-haired youngish man with mirrored sunglasses who's really cute but he gets an unexpected facial from one of the women he's supposed to be killing, and it's not the icky kind that men often give women, either. It's something a little hotter and deadlier than mere love-juice, har-de-har-har...

Young Inspector Germi is one of those maverick-y, almost rogue-type cops that operate best alone or, in this case, with an amusing sidekick along for laughs and, sometimes, a bit of pathos. He- Germi- screws up at times but he nearly always gets his man. He's not as smooth and slick as James Bond, but he's by no means a bumbling Inspector Clouseau, either. Let's just say, shall we, that he's somewhere in between...!

He's disgusted but probably not too shocked at the level of corruption he uncovers when he's investigating the deaths of the underage sex-workers. Complicity in the murders goes all the way to the top in this case, and the cops are loath to arrest the bigwigs that Germi's telling 'em are the guilty ones. Is it any wonder, though? They're totally up to their eyes in it themselves.

No offence intended here but I believe that post-war Italy was rife with all kinds of corruption, although I'm sure it wasn't the only country where such stuff went on. We all have our closets and they nearly all rattle with the sound of the skeletons we desperately want to keep hidden. Mine's full now, I need an overflow closet...!

There's some gorgeous scenery on view here, a gripping car-chase and some beautiful old buildings (pensiones) that have clearly been around since before the Second World War and
which have maybe even withstood a few stray Allied bombs in their time.

Pale, faded yellow (giallo?) chipped paint and pretty wooden shutters perpetually open to admit the light, window boxes filled with a sunburst of glorious blooms and big front doors standing hospitably- or carelessly!- open because nobody needed to close 'em in those days.

It's so very Italian. You half expect to see Sophia Loren come out onto a balcony with clothes-pins between her teeth, a child on one hip and a basket of washing on the other, talking animatedly all the time in fabulous sexy fluid Italian. The whole feel of the film is so Italian. So beautiful. So nostalgic. It makes you want to go there. And with this film, you can.

THE SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF A MINOR is available to buy now from ARROW VIDEO.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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