Directed by: Jean Josipovici, Ambrogio Molteni
Stars: John Drew Barrymore, Gloria Milland, Luisa Rivelli
Also known as: Delitto allo specchio, Sexy Party
Description: A party of young people gather in a mansion for an occult experiment in which deaths are predicted by a psychic. Soon it turns into more than an experiment .
Delitto allo specchio (literally, Crime in the Mirror, but known in English as Death on the Four Poster or Sexy Party) is one of those spiffy-cool Italian thrillers of the early 60’s, with a great jazz score and luminous, tactile b&w photography. Not only does it offer some wonderful camp appeal, but it also has historical significance. It possesses enough horror-fantasy elements to ally it with the Italian Gothic revival of the early 60s, and more urgently, it anticipates many of the crucial elements of the giallo thriller which would dominate the early 70s. The requisite stock characters are all on hand — neurotic playboys and dissolute gamblers, hourglass-figured temptresses with big hair, clinging designer gowns and gleaming jewels to match their smiles, a debonair psychic, an airheaded floozy, a resentful housekeeper and a creepy, voyeuristic half-wit caretaker.
The film establishes an erotically-charged, off-kilter atmosphere without resorting to explicit sex or violence (although the American TV print has clumsily been shorn of some possible nudity in one scene). Instead, it subtly arouses with innuendo, some highly-charged dancing, a “truth-or-dare”-style party game (leading to various betrayals and recouplings), and the doom-laden auguries of the psychic. Once the first murder occurs, the personal intrigues, forebodings-come-true, secret passages and disappearing evidence intensify the mysterious ambiance without being overly hokey or arbitrary. Clues to the satisfying resolution are craftily hidden early on.
The luscious Antonella Lualdi has never been so fetching or exotic as she masterminds the sexy games while holding a pivotal secret close to her ample bosom. And cult figures Michel Lemoine (as the highly neurotic heir who hosts the party in his lush château) and John Drew Barrymore perk up proceedings immensely. This one deserves to be much better known.