Director: Antonio Margheriti
Dark Sky Films/MPI

Director Mario Bava pretty much invented the “giallo” genre with THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (aka THE EVIL EYE) (1963) and BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964). Released in 1968, Antonio Margheriti’s NAKED YOU DIE was a precursor to the more explicit giallos that would follow in the early 1970s, and is much restrained in comparison to what would be the standard in just a few short years. Based on a story credited to Bava himself (an unfilmed script which reportedly also had contributions from the late Tudor Gates), the movie was shun of much of its running time and released in The States as THE YOUNG, THE EVIL AND THE SAVAGE, playing on a late summer double bill with THE CONQUEROR WORM. Dark Sky Films’ DVD not only presents the film on home video for the first time here, but it’s also the uncut original Italian version.

In a city apartment, a redheaded woman is strangled and drowned by an unseen assailant while taking bath. Her body is tossed in a trunk and is shipped off to an elite girls’ school, where it will remain unopened. Presently at the school, most of the teachers have just arrived back from their vacations while only a handful of students are present. As young and excitable Lucille (Eleonora Brown) is in the midst of a budding romance with riding instructor Richard Barrett (Mark Damon) a fellow student disappears, and another one is found brutally murdered. Now, the entire school is panicked and no individual is exempt from being a suspect, including the very active gym teacher, the stern and humorless Ms. Clay, an elderly bird-obsessed professor and the peculiar peeping tom gardener (played by Alan Collins, aka Luciano Pigozzi, in one of his typical creepo roles).

NAKED YOU DIE (the actual translated Italian title) refers to at least two victims in the film, the one during the impressive opening bathtub murder and another who is done in during a nighttime shower at the school. Aside from these sporadic glimpses of backside female nudity, the film is rather tame and bloodless, almost looking out-of-date by 1968 standards and certainly a far cry from such giallos as WHAT HAVE THE DONE TO SOLANGE? (also set in a girls’ school) and LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN which would soon follow. That’s not to say that the film is not enjoyable, as it’s still a worthy (and early) giallo which beholds beautiful cinematography and some quirky characters. The suspense is also adequate, with enough red herrings to keep it from becoming too predictable. The score is a bit too fluffy and cheerful at times, but the opening theme tune "Nightmare" (sung as a Bondesque Shirley Bassey number) is pretty amusing.

American actor Mark Damon started out with AIP, and then went to Italy to start in a string of exploitation films, most notably Bava’s BLACK SABBATH. Adding his boyish and heroic charms to the proceedings here, Damon is currently a very successful Hollywood producer. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL star (or ASSIGMENT TERROR star, depending on your state of mind) Michael Rennie plays the inspector brought in to solve the murders. British-born Rennie is in a deadpan state for most of the running time and shows little personality until the final minutes (in all fairness though, only the Italian language version is included here, as Rennie dubbed his own voice for the U.S. release which we don't get to hear). One of the film’s most noteworthy performances is that of British-born Sally Smith as flirty student Jill, a sleuth wannabe who toys around with walkie talkies and thrives on the element of murder in an innocent kind of way. With her short hair and wide eyes, Smith sort of resembles Joanna Lumley as Purdy in “The New Avengers” series.

Dark Sky Films’s presents NAKED YOU DIE uncut in Italian with optional English subtitles. It’s presented here in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, and truly looks gorgeous. Colors are distinct and bold, and detail is sharp, and aside from a few splashes of speckling damage, the print source is impeccable. The Italian mono soundtrack plays excellently and the subtitles are easy to read. Extras on the disc are the original Italian trailer and a still gallery which not only contains foreign marketing materials, but also the original U.S. lobby cards under its THE YOUNG, THE EVIL AND THE SAVAGE moniker. (George R. Reis)