Going into the film I was really excited to sit down and watch it because I was already familiar with the director Aldo Lado. See "Short Night of the Glass Dolls" was his first film and I was already a big fan of his movie "Night Train Murders" which is an effective and haunting rip-off of Wes Craven's "Last House on the Left". I'm a huge fan of giallo's and this was one that I've always heard about but it had always escaped me. But now Blue Underground is reissuing this one to DVD and bringing it back out for all of those that may have missed it on prior DVD releases as it's been out of print for years.
"Short Night of the Glass Dolls" is the story of American journalist Gregory Moore who is found in a unconscious state in a set of bushes in the town square. He doesn't seem to be totally dead, but he has no sign of a heartbeat and isn't breathing. But Gregory somehow has managed to stay warm and the usual rigor mortis hasn't set in on him, which is puzzling the doctors to say the least. They have no idea what is going on and why the body is showing the signs that it is. From here we are taken through the journey that Mr. Moore went on before ending up in that set of bushes.
After we see that Gregory is apparently dead there is still something strange going on as we can hear what he's saying in his head. Also we get imagery that is imperative to how he got there in the first place. But as Gregory lays on the gurney in the coroner's office we see everything leading up to that point in which he was involved in investigating the disappearance of his young girlfriend even though people in power had told him several times to leave well enough alone. But he manages to get himself wrapped up in a lot of things that can be considered bad for your health and ultimately bad for his own as well.
First and foremost there is something that I think giallo fans should know going into this one. This is very different from any giallo that I had seen before, as it takes the conventions of the giallo film and chops it to pieces. Not that it's a bad thing that this is done it's just going to give you a very different film than most of the other ones. There are no on screen death scenes or person running around with those oh so sexy black gloves that all of us fans have come to know and love. This time Lado is playing with the aspect of how the government and its authorities simply can't be trusted. The movie starts out confusing and as it moves on sheds light on things only to confuse you again. This was something that I thought worked very well in the grand scheme of things and really differentiated it from movies cut from the same cloth.
Actor Jean Sorel plays the role of Gregory Moore and does a great job as the lead in this one. He's convincing playing the hungry ladies man of a reporter and is the perfect hero for this type of film. Plus there has to be some conviction to the role because pretty much in the first few moments of the film you know how his character is going to end up. Although that's not the point as it is to see how he gets there more so than what happens to him in the end, he still manages to carry the film with a certain charisma that makes you root him on throughout the film. Plus, he's the guy getting all the good tail and who wouldn't want to be that guy?
This one is lacking the scantily clad women and gore that we've come to expect from the standard giallo but it's something that I have to give director Aldo Lado credit for. He was trying to do something different and wasn't trying to recapture what people like Bava and Argento already had done at the time. The story is effective and manages to have enough twists and turns to keep you happy to go along with an excellent climax. So overall I would recommend it to fans of the giallo subgenre, but I don't know how much anyone will like this movie if they aren't already into movies of this sort. I just think it will be a little on the slow side for them, but I know people that are into thrillers would be fulfilled by this one. It's a very unique and strange film but I say check it out for the fact that it's very different from the rest of the pack.
Rating - ***