By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Killer targets tour group.
A group of visiting Americans (at least they’re supposed to be American even though they sure don’t seem like it) traveling around Spain on a tour bus find themselves targeted by a killer in a red cape that gouges out the eyes of each of his victims. Suspicion soon centers on the culprit being one of the members of the tour group, but who could it be? Maybe it’s businessman Mark Burton (John Richardson) whose wife (Marta May) was suspected of a similar crime back home, or maybe it’s the elderly reverend (George Rigaud) who’s always spotted at the wrong place whenever the crimes are committed. Inspector Tudela (Andres Mejuto) has his hands full as the list of suspects keeps mounting almost as fast as the body count.
This film is a variation of If it’s Tuesday This must be Belgium, which involved a tour group from America going around Europe, but there it was played for laughs with no killings or mystery while here it tries for horror even though it would’ve worked better had some comedy been thrown as the dialogue gets very soap opera-like. The characters are a problem too as their reactions to the murders gets underplayed, which becomes unintentionally funny, and the way they blissfully continue on with the tour after each killing and acting like it’s no big deal makes them seem cold and inhuman.
The gore is cheesy particularly the fake looking gouged out eye sockets of the victims. In reality eyeballs are more oval shaped, but here they resemble ping-pong balls and the scene where the inspector takes out a small case in his office where he has collected each eyeball from each of the victims to show it to one of the witnesses comes off as being truly twisted.
On the positive end Bruno Nicolai’s bouncy musical score is distinctive and the sunny scenery, which was shot on-location in Barcelona, Spain, is scenic and helps add a visual appeal. The mystery at least on a minor level has intrigue and is full of all sorts of clues, which allows the viewer to play along and try to figure out who did it before the authorities do.
Usually I’m able to guess the identity of a killer long before anyone else does, but in this case I was honestly shocked, so in that regard it was fun even though the motivation for why the individual does it was over-the-top. If you’re looking for 90-minutes of a whodunit, which is ultimately all this thing really is, with just enough tacky gore thrown in for cheap laughs, then it might be worth considering.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: January 24, 1975
Runtime: 1Hou 31Minutes
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Studio: Estrela Films
Available: DVD-R (as The Secret Killer)