Gialloween Day 14: Death Walks on High Heels
The other half of the Death film duo by Luciano Ercoli, Death Walks on High Heels is the sleazier, yet more grounded and straightforward of the two films. Exotic dancer Nicole is stalked by a blue-eyed killer demanding to know the location of her father’s diamonds. A chance meeting allows her to escape to a small town in England. Despite her efforts, it seems as though death stalks her at every corner.
Nieves Navarro’s performance as female lead Nicole is stellar. Like Death Walks At Midnight, she possesses the composed, self-assured nature that sets her apart from most female giallo leads. This is joyously apparent during ther initial contact with the killer. Using an electric larynx to disguise their voice, the killer threatens Nicole if she does not tell them the location of her father's diamonds. Without missing a beat, Nicole promptly d tells the person to fuck off (in so many words) mocking the killer’s robotic voice. After about 13 days of screaming females, It is a pleasure to see such defiance early on in the film.
In addition to sharing the strong female characterization with its companion piece, the film’s fashion and soundtrack are just as good, if not better than its counterpart. The music in this film shares the same Bossanova like lounge qualities along with a healthy dose of cooed female vocals. The main theme is probably the breeziest giallo theme I’ve yet to hear— so much so that it would be right at home within any yacht party get together.
Because of the main characters profession as an exotic dancer, the amount of tasteful (and distasteful) outfits are almost double. Since we only have the introductory death in the first half, one can say that most suspense comes from anticipating which outfit our Nicole will change into next.
Unfortunately, the film makes a choice around half-way through the film that disrupts the fun and enjoyment described thus far. Jet-set fashion fanfare is replaced with a hard-boiled police procedural / mystery. Luckily the end brings it all together with a clever mix of red-herrings and a reveal that will probably fool even the most stead-fast giallo fans.
Ercoli’s Death series is definitive in demonstrating what the giallo genre is all about. Together they illustrate the great visual aspects we crave in the form of beautiful women, clothes, sets, with the evocative soundtracks to back them. Each film utilizes clever reveals and twists to add that extra kick near the end . Under appreciated, I hope to see the day where fans will recognize Ercoli’s entries on the same level as the must-see films when introducing others to the genre.