After the macabre death of ex insurance adjuster, Vincenzo Paradisi (Francesco Di Federico) — decapitated by a dredging digger! — mild-mannered cop, Inspector Luca Peretti (George Hilton), traces the crime back to the victim's final investigative case: the kidnap of the infant daughter of rich industrialist, Alessandro Moroni, and the subsequent murder of both she and her father after a police trace on the ransom money went disastrously wrong. It appears that Paradisi uncovered a vital clue as to the identity of the perpetrator of this dreadful crime but, in offering his services for cash to every member of the Moroni family, he also inadvertently revealed himself to the killer, thus provoking desperate measures from said maniac in an effort to make sure his/her identity remained a secret. When Peretti himself takes up the Moroni case, also hoping to find out what it was that Paradisi discovered, he unwittingly catalysis a further string of murders, as the black gloved assailant starts knocking off in grizzly fashion, anyone who might have information that will lead to the revelation of Paradisi's original clue.
"My Dear Killer" stands as one of the finest of the post-Argento gialli. Coming a couple of years after "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" it identifies and latches onto key elements in Argento's armoury of tropes (the shiny black mask and black gloves of the killer) and seems to anticipate ideas which Argento himself would go on to utilise effectively, in later years, in films such as "Profondo Rosso" and "Tenebrea". A child's drawing turns out to play a big role in revealing the killer's identity, just as it does in Argento's 1975 masterpiece, and a sequence where Paradisi's widow (Helga Line) is attacked and strangled by the killer at a post office, looks, shot for shot, like it could have been plucked straight from "Tenebrea", not directed by Argento until another ten years hence! Director Tonini Valerii, more usually associated with Spaghetti westerns, seems to have a vivid feel for the genre, utilising the full 1:23.1 aspect ratio to create a succession of dynamically shot set-piece murder and stalking sequences which are as effective as anything the master ever concocted, including one lovingly rendered killing involving a circular saw which has since become infamous among fans of the genre.
The film differs somewhat from Argento's "formula" by following a standard police procedural line, but it is notable that the investigation leads directly to the deaths of all the murder victims! with the killer even sneaking up outside inspector Luca's house and listening in behind the blinds while he discusses the case in bed with his girlfriend! Although the script is shot through with a rich vein of cynical humour, there is a more serious side to the plot, which does involve cruelty to and the murder of, an innocent child; there is even the suggestion of pedophilia in the character of the artist, Beniamino (Alfredo Mayo), who likes to paint child nudes! The film veers into Agatha Christi territory at the conclusion by having Peretti assemble the entire Moronoi family (all of whom are, of course, more than a little suspicious) in one room to reveal the vital clue — a picture scribbled by the child before her death that will tell which of them murdered her — but this is an enjoyable giallo entry with a satisfying multilevel plot and plenty of well choreographed murder scenes, Valerii often switching to a first person (from the killers point of view) perspective to both bump up the tension and implicate the viewer in the crimes (another trick from Argento's filmography).
UK label, Shameless, provide a decent transfer which although it has a few scratches and a soundtrack than can be a bit crackly, does, at least finally enable UK viewers to see the circular saw attack in all its bloody glory (unlike the pan & scan VHS from Redemption which was censored by the BBFC). This is a definite must-have for all fans of gialli. the more fun. Even if you already own the movie on DVD, this extended version is an essential addition to any slasher fan's library.