"Death Walks on High Heels" and its companion piece "Death Walks at Midnight" by director Luciano Ercoli make a perfect pair, featuring almost the same entire cast, in particular Susan Scott as the heroine both times. In "Death Walks at Midnight", she plays a model called Valentina who agrees to take a new drug as part of a medical experiment. Her initial trippy giggling soon gives way to horror as she witnesses an apparent vision of the brutal murder of a woman carried out by a man in sunglasses, using a spiked metal glove. When her head clears, no-one believes her, and to her dismay the story of her experience is reported and published in a newspaper. The result of this is of course that the murderer reads it and comes after Valentina.
What's most refreshing about the film is that Valentina is such a great character. She's feisty and confident, often in peril but always resouceful. Susan Scott gives a delightful performance and steals every scene she is in. The film also looks gorgeous and the No Shame DVD showcases it in stunning widescreen. It's also stuck well and truly in the seventies, and the collection of outfits and wigs that Valentina sports are a constant supply of amusement. The complex story takes a lot of concentration to figure out, and it can get a bit slow in the middle of the film, but luckily the viewer is most likely to remember the opening (the murder) and the climax (a rooftop brawl where the whole cast seems to muck in and slug it out with each other), and forget the draggy middle section. The spiked glove killing is the most extreme sequence in the whole film. Seemingly inspired by a similar weapon in "Blood and Black Lace", the scene gives the viewer a powerful jolt with it's unflinching depiction of the assault (although the victim here takes a battering to the side of the head whereas the poor girl in "Blood And Black Lace" takes a full whack in the face!), and the rooftop fight sequence also features detailed depictions of pummelling that look pretty painful, so the bloodthirsty viewers out there should be satisfied.
The second film, "Death Walks on High Heels" features Scott as the heroine once again, but this time, her role is that of a stripper named Nicole which means we get to see more of her naked than we did in "Midnight". Scott is able to carry the film effortlessly once more, even though her character here is rather more hard-edged, and she still steals the show, especially in a couple of pretty loopy striptease numbers, as well as the many changes of costume and wigs she sports throughout. And although once again in peril, Nicole is a character tough enough to take what's thrown at her with panache.
The complicated plot this time involves a missing hoard of stolen diamonds that is being sought after by various greedy people. Nicole is the daughter of one of the original criminals responsible for the theft, so she soon finds herself threatened over the phone and then again in person by a masked attacker, who is sure that she can lead him to the jewels, even though she says she knows nothing. She flees Paris and makes her way to England with a rich admirer who promises to protect her - even her French boyfriend is one of the suspects in this mystery where no-one can be trusted. From here on, the plot becomes even more tangled and you'll need your wits about you to make it to the end knowing exactly what's going on. It's a credit to the writers that thay are able to carry on pulling new surprises out of thin air right up to the very last moments of the story, and Ercoli is able to keep you hooked due to the marvellous cinematography, and of course the beautiful women who populate the film, namely Scott and Claudie Lange. While the film is fairly low on action and long on conversations, it does dish up one particularly vicious murder in which the female victim is repeatedly sliced with a switchblade knife (This idea was taken to a far more nauseating extreme much later by Lucio Fulci in "The New York Ripper"). Ercoli also stages another spectacular punch up towards the end, in a similar vein to the roof top climax in "Death Walks at Midnight" ...when Ercoli films a fist-fight, his men hit HARD!
Speaking of those conversations, I watched both films in English, and the dubbing probably does the atmosphere a real dis-service, as none of the English script seems to adequately match the emotions the actors are trying to portray. Luckily the No Shame discs allow you to choose the Italian soundtrack with subtititles and I have a feeling that the translation might be quite a lot better in the subtitles than in the English dub, which probably robs the films of some of the subtler script nuances, and also makes the twists and turns harder to keep up with.
Getting these two together makes for an excellent purchase as they really are a pair. Giallo fans will be happy with the sleek violence on display, and retro fans will revel in the lurid fashions of the era and the sumptuous lounge/kitsch musical soundtracks of both films. Susan Scott is a statuesque beauty who throws herself into the proceedings with vigour, and I enjoyed both films on acoount of her performance, without which they would probably be only half as entertaining! Its very impressive to see two formerly very obscure European movies like these from the 1970's getting such a good DVD release by No Shame. Recommended.