(Giuseppe Bennati, 1974)
Eight wealthy socialites are invited to party held in an abandoned theater owned by the family of their host, Paul. A sleazy lot they are, what with their many indiscretions and mutual financial reliance on Paul. When an attempt is made on Paul's life and one of the guests is found with a knife in her back, the others attempt to leave, only to find the doors locked and the keys missing. Patrick then tells the guests of the theater's dark history, that one hundred years prior another group had been locked in overnight and were all found mutilated the following morning.
To add to their confusion, an uninvited, enigmatic man in black appears to the group, only to disappear moments later. Then a disembodied voice performs to the empty theater as a draft blows the curtains about, despite the lack of windows or open doors. Furthermore, an assassin clad in a black cape and rubber Halloween mask starts offing the guests in often grisly (and misogynist) fashions.
TKR9S, though sleazy in the extreme, is a fascinating little giallo oddity in the vein of Something Creeping In The Dark. Yes, the characters all share a common idiocy and tend to split up when they know there's a madman on the loose, but what delightful deaths await them! Especially when one of the females is stabbed repeatedly in the crotch and she just writhes and looks like she's enjoying it, despite the fact that her hands are untied! Yup, brilliant.
On the technical side, TKR9S is a highly atmospheric, therefore creepy, film thanks to the obscured lighting and soundtrack. I had noticed, while watching, that Dario Argento must have seen this prior to making Inferno, as a few of the images in Inferno look eerily similar to those in TKR9S. Furthermore, George Eastman, who wrote Michele Soavi's Stagefright, must have seen it as well as the story seems to have been a little... "inspired" by Bennati's film. Recommended, but unreleased at this point. DL away!
6 months ago