An Ideal Place to Kill [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Mondo Macabro
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (30th August 2020).
The Film

Umberto Lenzi was a phenomenally successful director of various genres of films, however Lenzi was known for much more than just cranking out slasher films. He also directed the comic strip influenced "Kriminal" (1966); he also made some of the earliest Italian-made Euro-spy films like "The Spy Who Loved Flowers" (1966), and he helped usher in the ever popular Italian cannibal cycle of films as well with "Man from Deep River" (1972). Lenzi dabbled in many types of genre bending films and he was extremely productive in the 60ís and 70ís. The Italian genre of Giallo films is usually loaded with trademark icons: black gloved hands usually holding a straight razor, a high body count, JB Scotch, questionable scripts, red herrings, etc. but Lenzi took this stereotypical iconography and threw them out the widow by directing a film that pushed the boundaries of the Giallo into a new and different direction. Is it successful you ask? I am still on the fence regarding whether or not I agree, but letís take a closer look at "An Ideal Place to Kill" and see what develops.

That happy bopping music on the soundtrack is the title track ďHow Can You Live Your LifeĒ by II Leon and we will hear more of it later on, but it definitely established the mood of the film as we see two sappy teenagers as they run around with a useless red umbrella over their heads. Apparently, they are in Copenhagen, Denmark because they are shown going into a sex shop and loading up on hardcore pornography; their plan is to sell the illegal material in prudential Italy in order to finance their trip across Europe.

Lenzi is heard complaining about this plot line in the accompanying interview in the extras, porn smugglers, and he states that originally the duo were scripted to be smuggling drugs into the country, but the filmís producer ixnayed that idea. Essentially what we have is two groovy young souls that are looking to spread a message of sexual liberation to anyone that is interested. Hey, man, itís the 70ís; donít be so uptight! They are shown driving a mod yellow roadster convertible that has flowers painted on the side; can you dig it? So, if you are like me, youíre probably wondering what the hell is being served up? Where is the moody Ennio Morricone score? Where is the menacing killer at? Well, guess again because this ainít that type of film.

Lenzi takes his time establishing the vibe and time; this is the age of free love, of hippies with bad haircuts, and ultra-short skirts. Our protagonists are Dick (Ray Lovelock) and Ingrid (Ornella Muti) and they are on a mission across the country to see the sights, to let it all hang out, to indulge their Dionysian appetites wherever they may strike. We see Ingrid, who looks no more than sixteen, luring older men into purchasing her illicit goods with typical bait and switch tactics. It certainly doesnít hurt that she is braless and wearing a pair of tight shorts. No man is invulnerable to her charms it seems. Yes, the two are living large as long as the cash supply stays strong, but after a run in with a maniacal biker, the duo are forced to find some way to make some easy dough. There is a bizarre scene where Dick stands lookout as Ingrid poses naked in a photo booth and with the black and white snapshots in hand, they try their luck with the populace. Unfortunately, they run into a square cat and they are promptly hauled off to the station house where they are given 24 hours to vacate the city. The duo shrug off the cops and instead jump into their roadster and head for the country. This is where things slowly start to come into focus.

Running out of fuel, the two push their vehicle to a luxurious villa where they spy an open garage door. Quickly siphoning some gas from the car parked there, they are interrupted by the lady of the house, Barbara Slater (Irene Papas) who seems to have come from an entirely different script. At first, she is upset that the hippies would have the nerve to pull something so bold, but she quickly changes her mind and puts out the welcome mat to the strangers. There is something off with Slater: she seems preoccupied with her husbandís impending arrival, and there are a series of mysterious phone calls from another gentleman whose identity has not been revealed to us yet. Slaterís emotions seemingly turn on a dime as she is simultaneously both warm and cold and this does manage to trigger a nervous undercurrent to the players.

Lenzi really heaps on the psychedelia with some wacky camera effects as Dick and Slater cut a rug to some hip music on the hi-fi while Ingrid watches jealously from afar. The sexual tension starts to climb as Dick and Ingrid display some dominant/submissive behavior with Ingrid remaining cool as she orders Dick to kiss the homeowner. Dick just doesnít give the lady of the house a brief kiss, but a long sensuous lip lock. The viewer will start to wonder if more advanced sexual hijinx arenít forthcoming? We get a chance to ogle Ingridís body double as she discards her skimpy top and performs a sexy slow dance to an Arabic sounding record. The two head for the bedroom where they are to stay the night, but donít hold your breath because Dick immediately makes tracks to Slaterís room where she drops to her knees to show her gratitude. Again, another body double is employed because Papas wasnít agreeing to show the goods off, but whomever the double was she is lovingly gazed on from behind by the camera. The next morning Slater is up early, and she immediately starts acting strange looking the visitors in their rooms. Athletic Dick easily scrambles out the window and confronts Slater downstairs. Slater is on the phone with the police and the set up is clear: she is reporting the two to the authorities since there is a BOLO for them and she will lie about the consensual lovemaking that happened. There is also an issue with a pistol with Dickís fingerprints on it from the previous night.

This plot copies the plot of "Last House on the Left" (1972) where criminals break into a house only to be framed for a murder that has already occurred. And sure enough, while trying to switch license plates on Slaterís car with theirs, the teens find the body of the husband in the trunk of the car. We are shown through a flashback that Slater has lied to the cops and that she is the killer. The two visitors play a game of ďwhoís on top nowĒ as the sides switch roles repeatedly with the duo digging a shallow grave and burying the husband. This element may account for the lingering effects of the Manson family murders back in the states; we see Ingrid writing the word Pigs on a mirror with ketchup, but no reasonable explanation is provided. We also have a brief Argento inspired scene as Slater and Dick have a struggle in an aviary with many close-up shots of owls and other birds squawking and flying about. Sure, none of this really works, but it makes for some interesting developments. One gets the feeling that Lenzi was simply frustrated in trying to deliver a hard edge product, but the producer Carlo Ponti kept on getting involved and thus watering down the final result.

The pair finally decide to bail on this adventure after too many people decide to come calling on Slater and acting nosy. They paint their vehicle black with what appears to be house paint and leave their hostage in a drugged induced slumber. Now sensible criminals would have hit the road and be gone from the crime scene, but since this is a ďhippie GialloĒ Ingrid pleads that she simply must have a chance to take a swim in the ocean and Dick stupidly agrees with her. We are treated to some seaside frolicking by the two until they are spied by the highway patrol. This, of course, leads to an ineffective high-speed chase where the happy go lucky pair meet their deaths on the rocks below after their car goes over a cliff. Cue the bouncy theme song and show me the exit! Roll the credits!

Video

Presented in widescreen 2.35:1 high definition 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression. Mondo Macabro has made an exceptional showing with this product and for a film from the 70ís, there is none of the speckling and scratches that one has come to expect. Fans of Lenziís work should be impressed.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included in English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono and original Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono, both presented in 16-bit. I selected the Italian selection and it was fine. As a reminder, everything was handled in a post-production recording, so it really comes down to an issue of preference. Everything is subtitled in English as well.

Extras

Audio commentary from Troy Howaarth and Mondo Digitalís Nathaniel Thompson and both men know their stuff as they talk about the genre in general. Bouncing all over the place, the two men are clearly uber fans as they talk at large about the production values, the director and his career and overall, this feature is clearly entertaining.

ďPorn Smugglers: Umberto Lenzi Talks About The FilmĒ (23:44) is an interview with Lenzi talks about how the producers effected the directorís vision and ultimately compromised the final product. Lenzi wanted to produce an "Easy Rider" (1969) like product with a couple of hippie kids smuggling in drugs to fuel their adventure but instead we ended up with a mishmash of a film that seemingly didnít work overall.

X-rated Inserts, freeze frame grabs so that you canít complain that you missed anything, there are four in total:
- "1" (0:44)
- "2" (0:09)
- "3" (0:11)
- "4" (0:10)

Original theatrical trailer (4:07)

"More From Mondo Macabre" trailer reel (13:50)

Packaging

Packaged in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

Overall

I grudgingly give "An Ideal Place to Kill" an "A" rating for the overall production design, but a "B" rating for the goofiness of the plot. Mondo Macabro comes through with an eye popping newly-remastered 2K Blu-ray. The color palette is extremely colorful with generous use of reds and yellows. The presentation looks gorgeous with a crisp presentation and richly detailed film stock. Unfortunately, the plot didnít impress me as it did other reviewers. However, this is a neglected film and hopefully it will get a larger audience, just donít come looking for the usual Giallo trademarks. Highly Recommended for collectors.

The Film: B Video: A Audio: A Extras: A Overall: A-

 


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