The best thing about Mario Bava's formulaic body count thriller is the decor, from the riotous, ultra-modern house that serves as the primary set to the swinging '60s fashions. It's clearly a work for hire: Bava came onto the project mere days before the start of production, and though there are a couple of strikingly beautiful images like a cascade of glass balls rattling down a staircase before coming to rest in the chilly marble bathroom where one character has apparently committed suicide overall the film lacks the lush atmosphere of his seminal BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964). Three amoral couples gather at the island home of wealthy George Stark (Teodoro Corra) and his wife, Jill (Edith Meloni) for the weekend. The only other inhabitants are an old couple who are away and their nubile daughter, Isabel (Ely Galleani). One of the guests, Professor Fritz Farrell (William Berger), has developed a formula for an industrial resin, and George and his equally rich friends, Nick Chaney (Maurice Poli) and Jack Davidson (Howard Ross), want to buy it. But Fritz isn't sure he wants to sell, so the three men plot and scheme, individually and as a group. Nick sends his luscious wife, Marie (Edwige Fenech) who's dallying with Jacques (Mauro Bosco), the Starks' houseman to try some tender persuasion; Fritz's wife, Trudy (Ira Furstenberg), meanwhile, is carrying on with Jill. The weekend takes a sinister turn when Jacques is stabbed to death. Because George gave his yacht crew the weekend off and only Jacques could operate the launch, everyone is now trapped on the island with a killer. Fritz is the next to die, followed by Jack's wife, Peggy (Helena Ronee). The survivors wrap each corpse in plastic and hang them in the walk-in freezer downstairs, which looks increasing like a cross between a hospital morgue and a pop-art installation. One by one the beautiful people fall, each death leaving the remaining guests more suspicious of the others, building up to the kind of preposterous double-twist ending typical of this kind of Italian thriller. Though far from the high water mark of Bava's career, it's a must-see for his fans and for anyone enchanted by the excesses of sixties-era design.
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