Color, 1975, 98m.
Directed by Andrea Bianchi
Starring Nino Castelnuovo, Edwige Fenech, Femi Benussi, Solvi Stubing
Blue Underground (Blu-Ray & DVD) (US R0 NTSC), Shameless (UK R0 PAL), X-Rated Kult (Germany R0 PAL) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)
Tacky, profane, and crammed with gratuitous skin from start to finish, Strip Nude for Your Killer was directed by genre-hopper Andrea Bianchi, whose career spans all the way from Burial Ground to hardcore porn. Fortunately this outing is a bit slicker than usual thanks to the visual sheen of cinematographer Franco Delli Colli, whose colorful, shadowy scope compositions manage to make this look like a first-class affair even when busty, naked women are being groped by hairy, overweight men in baggy underwear.
Once the boyish star of films like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Camille 2000, Castelnuovo is virtually unrecognizable here as the slimy "hero" who chauvanistic treatment of women is so ludicrous it can't even be classified as offensive. Meanwhile the women all perform their duties as required by the film, though as usual Fenech (with a short, boyish hairstyle) injects more charm and pluck into her role than anyone probably expected. Underrated composer Berto Pisano also contributes a fun, funky score that sorely deserves a CD release. Giallo fans may be disappointed in the thriller aspects here; the storyline's not that involving and any bloodshed consists mainly of a few unconvincing splashes of red paint and the occasional body part flopping onto the ground. Still, most will be having too much fun to notice. Will you respect yourself in the morning after watching it? Probably not, but the ride's certainly fun while it lasts.
For years after its release, most viewers had to seek this film out in unsubtitled Italian bootleg tapes though an English dub did circulate throughout Europe briefly in the '70s. The English track first appeared on DVD via Germany's X-Rated Kult label in an adequate transfer, though any curious parties were better served by Blue Underground's attractive DVD which sports a much cleaner English audio track and a steadier anamorphic transfer. Unlike the phony video-generated "trailer" on the German DVD, the Blue Underground disc also sports a genuine international trailer that's far more entertaining, with a ridiculous Marquis De Sade quote thrown in for good measure. The only other extra is a 12-minute featurette, "Strip Nude for Your Giallo," in which co-writer Massimo Felisatti and actress/victim Solvi Stubing talk about the making of the film. (Note that the featurette is in Italian, and the English subtitles wouldn't activate on some DVD players on the first pressing of the disc.) It's a fun but brief short, complete with a look at Stubing's extra-giallo career and coverage of the filmmaking scene at the time. A subsequent DVD followed in the UK from Shameless, uncut and apparently taken from the same English-language source with a handful of their usual trailers as extras.
Most people probably wouldn't peg this as a likely title for a Blu-Ray upgrade ahead of pivotal thrillers by directors like Argento, Bava, and Fulci, but sure enough, Blue Underground decided to deck it out in high style as a 2012 release anyway. This one's a little tricky to evaluate visually since the standard def versions all had a blown-out, grainy quality and dull black levels; the Blu-Ray features smoother gradations during brightly lit scenes (faces don't bloom into pure white anymore), though it still has that odd overlit, chalky quality. Detail increases substantially across the board (especially those shots of Stubing's fur coat, which now looks like it's actually made of animal hair), and while the dark stalking scenes still don't look dynamic by a long shot, at least you can finally tell what's going on all of the time. Colors are also more intense and have a pleasant mid-'70s gloss. Not surprisingly, there's also what appears to be a pass or two of digital filtering of some kind; there's still film grain, but it looks like some of the film has been cleaned up and doesn't look quite natural. Basically it's a couple of notches more artificial looking than Torso but nowhere near as extreme as the most disastrous examples of Italian HD transfers gone wrong. (It's probably safe to say the Arrow Blu-Ray of Tenebrae still holds that dishonor.)
While the image quality is a happy albeit imperfect jump forward compared to the DVD, the real value here lies on the audio end. The Blu-Ray thankfully contains not only the English dubbed track (with optional subtitles in English, Spanish, and French) but also the Italian language track with an optional English subtitle translation from that version as well. The comparisons are fascinating, to say the least, and both are presented in DTS-HD mono. While Carlo sounds like a nasally Catskills dinner theater comedian in the English version, he has a much more natural, deep voice in the Italian one, which also contains far more incidental dialogue that was simply never recorded for the English track. Much of the dialogue also differs quite drastically in meaning between the two, and while it's probably a stretch to say the Italian version with subtitles makes the film more "respectable," at least it goes some way to taking it at least semi-seriously as a thriller with a bit of literacy and wit about it. On the other hand, the English dub is still just stupid, goofy fun. It's worth noting that in either audio version, the final scene remains one of the most unexpected, bizarre wrap ups in Euro cinema history; exactly what the filmmakers were going for there is anyone's guess, but you'll have trouble scooping your jaw off the floor after seeing it for the first time. Both the featurette and English trailer have been carried over here, along with a newly added Italian trailer (essentially the same content-wise but with a much wilder title treatment) and an HD poster and stills gallery, which is about as lurid as you'd expect. Whatever twisted movie gods have decided to release films like this in high definition for our viewing pleasure, let's hope they keep doing it for several more years to come.