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L'Iguana dalla Lingua di Fuoco

The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire
L' Iguane à la Langue de Feu / Die Bestie mit dem feurigen Atem

Italy / France / West Germany / Ireland 1971
produced by
Les Films Corona, Oceania Produzioni Internazionali Cinematografiche, Terra-Filmkunst
directed by Riccardo Freda (as Willy Pareto)
starring Luigi Pistilli, Dagmar Lassander, Anton Diffring, Arthur O'Sullivan, Werner Pochath, Dominique Boschero, Renato Romano, Sergio Doria, Ruth Durley, Valentina Cortese
screenplay by Riccardo Freda (as Willy Pareto), Sandro Continenza, Günter Ebert, based on the novel A Room Without Door by Richard Mann, music by Stelvio Cipriani

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The dead body of a young woman is found in the trunk of ambassador Sobiesky's (Anton Diffring) car, and when inspector Lawrence (Arthur O'Sullivan) investigates, he soon has to realize the ambassador's diplomatic immunity, paired with his arrogance, makes it impossible to somehow uncover what's behind everything. So he comes up with an original idea and hires none other his predecessor on the job, Norton (Luigi Pistilli), to investigate. Norton has been unstable ever since his wife was killed (the movie doesn't dig any further there) and got fired when he interrogated a suspect that brutally that the suspect killed himself before his very eyes. And now Lawrence thinks Norton's unorthodox ways might make him perfect for the job. Norton soon makes headway in the case hooking up with Sobiesky's stepdaughter Helen (Dagmar Lassander), and through her finding his way into the Sobiesky family, also consisting of the ambassador's wife, a drug addict deeply unhappy with her life as madam ambassador - and with her husband to begin with -, and then there's also Helen's brother Marc (Werner Pochath), who has long turned his back on the family and remains elusive throughout. Thing is, while Norton's investigations are still in their infancy, another murder happens, and it's soon revealed that both victims had affairs with Sobiesky. As Norton trails on, more murders happen, and attempts are made on both Sobiesky's and his wife's lives, both of whom survive rather by luck, but it soon becomes clear that Norton is absolutely on the right track, as the killer starts to murder witnesses and even breaks into Norton's home to kill his cat as a warning. Even Helen isn't safe from whoever it is, and she too only survives thanks to pure luck. Things come to a head when, while Norton's out, the killer enters Norton's place again to try to kill his mother and daughter as an ultimate warning. So will Norton be back in time to prevent this, and if so, will he be able even?

 

So ok, the killer in this movie is really pulled out of the hat at the ending, so much so that he hardly factored in the preceding story and Norton actually has to tell the audience who it is when unmasking him. But that's about as far as flaws go with this film, a movie that does not hang all its weight on its resolution, but that tells an exciting and tense story that keeps one on the edge of one's seat throughout, and keeps one guessing what's about to come and marvel at the many bizarre ideas and novel plottwists. And of course, a giallo of this ilk is in safe hands with genre veteran Riccardo Freda, who makes the most of the film's Irish and Swiss settings without ever forgetting to deliver in the suspense and atmosphere departments, and he has a first class cast on hand to carry the thing through. So basically, if you can forgive the ending (and you should), there's more than enough to like in this one to make it worth your while.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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