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Dead Are Alive, The

Review by: 
L'Etrusco Uccide Ancora
Release Date: 
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Armando Crispino
Samantha Eggar
Alex Cord
Bottom Line: 

 “Come on baby, doesn't the idea of an Etruscan burial ground turn you on?”, spouts the inebriated Alex Cord to Samantha Eggar in Crispino's much maligned thriller. The criticisms heaped on the film by various genre reviewers are difficult to fathom at times, because the film itself, while nothing outstanding, does contain some suitably bizarre moments, and some strangely off-kilter characters to make it worthy of your attention.
A young couple are beaten to death and their bodies are laid out in an old Etruscan tomb, which is being excavated by Professor Jason Porter (Alex Cord ) and his team. Cord was involved with Myra (Samantha Eggar), who left him because of a drunken attack (which Cord can't remember because he was so drunk). She is now seeing a domineering composer, Nikos (John Marley), whose excessive demands annoy everyone, from the effete choreographer of the composers show, through to his son and his personal assistant.
A policeman appears on the scene, and proceeds to make it clear to Cord that he is his number one suspect, but he also feels sorry for him due to their shared alcohol problem. Add into the mix a security guard who burns insects alive, and a scarred woman who may have some sort of relationship with one of the main characters and you have a suitably long list of suspects to take up your attention throughout the films overlong running time.
A couple of the set pieces are impressive, and there is an amusing car chase/police pursuit through a picturesque Italian town, but overall the film is a slight disappointment when compared to Crispino's other giallo, the superlative Autopsy.
At first the film appears to be about to take a supernatural turn, but it quickly settles down into a typical giallo scenario, along with the usual staples of a flawed male lead, various illicit sexual trysts, and the occasional well staged murder set piece capped off by the earsplitting use of Verdi's Requiem at various moments during the film.
Crispino didn't make many films in the horror/thriller genre,  but, at times, he does give the impression that he knows what he is doing, and could have possibly built up a decent body of work if he had stuck to the genre instead of becoming something of a jack-of-all-trades, hopping from genre to genre depending on the current American box-office trends of the time.
A word on the DVD release in the States on the Eurovista label - it's awful. The picture is the tiniest widescreen ratio of any DVD I've ever seen, has obviously been mastered from a VHS print despite claims to the contrary, and even switches itself off about ten seconds from the end of the film! It is, however, just about the best way of seeing the film (unless you prefer to track down the Luminous release on VHS).

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