Ferdinando Baldi – Nove ospiti per un delitto AKA Nine Guests for a Crime [+commentary] (1977)

Nine members of the same family go to an island, where nobody lives – but the head of the family owns a nice house there. Problem is that he and his three sons keep a dark secret, and this dark secret begins to haunt them as soon as they are on the island. One by one falls victim to a mysterious killer.

Another day, another giallo gem from Camera Obscura. This time Nine Guests for a Crimeout we have one of the later twists on the whole “group of people getting knocked off in a beautiful location” formula, churned out as the genre was getting sleazier and cheaper in the latter half of the ’70s. Nine Guests for a Crime is the handiwork of the late Ferdinando Baldi, a director best known for his spaghetti westerns like Blindman and Comin’ at Ya! However, as he proved with the ultra-sleazy Terror Express, he could splash around in sleazy waters as well as anyone, and this one definitely fits in that category.

This time out, a prologue involving man getting attacked and buried in the sand while still alive sets the tone for this sun and surf slasher film in which rich, older businessman Ubaldo (Living Dead at Manchester Morgue’s Kennedy) hauls his family to an isolated villa on a rocky island. On the boat ride over they swap observations like “My dear, why don’t you think about all the times you betrayed your husband,” just the first of many catty, sex-obsessed exchanges during the running time. Once they arrive the squabbling escalates, the blouses start falling off, and important pistols get tucked away for safety in metal boxes we just know will come in handy later. Then a killer in a scuba outfit pops up to to fire a flare gun into one of the family’s nameless sailors and stashes the yacht out of sight, leaving everyone stranded on the island to swim, fish, and die. Meanwhile one of Ubaldo’s sons, Michele (Jungle Holocaust’s Foschi), keeps making the movies on his dad’s Nine Guests for a Crimesexy new wife (Persichetti) while his own “frigid” and “stupid” spouse (Emmanuelle 2’s Laurence) turns a blind eye. Michele’s two brothers, Lorenzo (Torso’s Richardson) and Walter (City of the Living Dead’s Venantini), have their own domestic issues to deal with, but that all falls by the wayside when the bodies start piling up (and disappearing at random). Then the survivors stumble on a literal skeleton in their closet connected to Ubaldo’s spinster sister, Elizabeth (Ghia), and all hell really breaks loose.

Though too formulaic to be a classic, Nine Guests for a Crime is a lively and entertaining offering crammed with some surprisingly vicious murder scenes (one character getting wrapped in a net and set ablaze is particularly harrowing). The ridiculously overqualified cast easily elevates the script by Fabio Pittorru, the scribe behind the very similar The Weekend Murders as well as other gialli like The NIght Evelyn Came Out of the Grave and The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, while composer Carlo Savina drapes it all in a slinky score complete with liberal quotations from his work on Lisa and the Devil. Basically imagine a much raunchier, bloodier remake of Mario Bava’s Five Dolls for an August Moon, and you’ll get the idea.

— Nathaniel Thompson (Mondo Digital).

1.03GB | 1 h 23 min | 855×364 | mkv


Subtitles:English, German (muxed)

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