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SMILE BEFORE DEATH (1972) Reviews of Giallo soon on Arrow Blu-ray


Smile before death is a 1972 Italian Giallo thriller film about a teenage girl who suspects her stepfather of having killed her mother.

Directed by Silvio Amadio (Amuk!) from a manuscript written with Francesco Orazio Di Dio and Francesco Villa, based on a story by Amadio and Francesco Merli.

The Domizia Cinematografica stars Jenny Tamburi alias Luciana Della Robbia (The mental; Frankenstein, Italian style; Suspicious death of a minor), Silvano Tranquilli (The black belly of the tarantula; Spider web; So sweet, so dead), Rosalba Neri (The devil’s wedding night; Lady Frankenstein) and Hiram Keller (Life; Seven deaths in the cat’s eyes).

The soundtrack was composed by Roberto Pregadio [as Bob Deramont] (The last house on the beach; Death carries a cane; King of King Island).


Blu-ray release:
Smile before death published by Arrow Video as part of Giallo Essentials: Black Edition collection on July 26, 2022. The other two films in the box are The weapon, the hour, the motive and The Killer reserved nine seats.

Limited edition content:
Brand new 2K restorations from the original camera negatives of Smile before death and The weapon, the hour, the motive
2K recovery from the original camera negative off The Killer reserved nine seats
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of each movie
Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks on Smile before death and The Killer reserved nine seats
Original lossless mono Italian soundtrack on The weapon, the hour, the motive
English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
Rigid box wrap with original poster artwork in a Giallo Essentials Collection slipcover with window
Reversible sleeves for each film with original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais, Peter Strain and Haunt Love

Disc One: Smile Before Death
Brand new audio commentary by writers and critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
Original Italian and English pre- and final titles
Smile of the Hyena, a brand new video interview with Stefano Amadio, film journalist and son of director Silvio Amadio
Never-before-seen extended nude scenes, not used in the final film
Photo gallery

Disk two: The weapon, the lesson, the motif
Brand new audio commentary by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
A Man in Giallo, a brand new video interview with actor Salvatore Puntillo
Pre- and final titles for the lost English-language dub
Photo gallery

Disk three: The Killer reserved nine seats
Brand new audio commentary by author and critic Kat Ellinger
Hanging with Howard, a video interview with actor Howard Ross
Writing with Biagio, a video interview with screenwriter Biagio Proietti
Italian cinema trailer (in Italian and English)
Photo gallery

First printing only: Individual illustrated collector’s booklets for each film, with new authorship by Rachael Nisbet, Barry Forshaw and Peter Jilmstad

A middle-aged woman, Dorothy Emerson, is seen suffering a violent death in a bathroom. A police report concludes that she committed suicide by cutting her own throat with a shard of glass because she had drunk a lot and the door was locked from the inside.

A teenage girl, Nancy Thompson (Luciana Della Robbia), unexpectedly arrived at the deceased mother’s country villa. She meets Gianna (Rosalba Neri), a photographer and Dorothy’s former best friend (who had lived in the villa as a long-term guest), and they end a friendship.

It quickly becomes clear that Gianna and Marco (Silvano Tranquilli) have a relationship. The teenage girl’s natural charm intoxicates both the older couple, and blinds develop rapidly. More importantly, Nancy, after being alerted by housekeeper Magda (Dana Ghia), begins to suspect that her mother’s death may not have been suicide …


Clearly influenced by deceptive erotic thrillers such as Paranoia and A quiet place to killSilvio Amadio’s Smile before death is an object lesson in how audiences should never trust what they see and hear in Gialli.

A detailed review would reveal for many other pleasing twists and turns that await viewers. Suffice it to say that this is an alluring cinematic treat that benefits from an underlying sense of kinkiness, including some eyebrow-lifting interactions. The ending may be a little too neat, but it is certainly not predictable.


The three leads are all excellent – Tranquilli has never been slimmer and Neri proves once again that she can act the pants of most Euro femme fatales – and special mention should be given to Luciana Della Robbia, who convincingly goes from being a seemingly sweet innocent to a predator with a surprising agenda.

But what really does Smile before death such compulsive entertainment is Roberto Pregadio’s infectious soundtrack score, featuring some groovy organ buzzing with delicious vocals by Edda Dell’Orso – though it should be noted that some may find the repeated use of variations of the same musical motif more insane than captivating.

Other reviews:
“Silvio Amadio just made another Giallo and it would be Amuk! Like that movie, this one also proves that Silvio was perhaps more interested in filming beautiful women who behaved badly when he showed the killings when it came to Giallo. Does not matter. This movie has lots of plot to go around and I was genuinely surprised by the conclusion of this hijacker. “B&S about movies

“A return effort that is more focused on the dingy gait and the intricate double crosses than actually stalking and slashing, this has a lot to hold for fans of this format.” Don’s world of horror and exploitation

“A mild recommendation, this well-played Giallo with lots of nudity and a decent mystery is more than OK for genre fans. However, the hint of confidentiality to Amuk! and a terrible theme song threatens to derail it a bit. Rosalba Neri is a clear standout, but Jenny Tamburi is also fine. ” Shameless self-expression

Smile before death essentially revolves around the premise of Amadio’s more famous Giallo Amuk! (1971) […] the film comes out with a rather silly and intricate case of karmic retaliation. A reminder that no matter how weak-minded, the Giallo genre often found itself accustomed to square bourgeois morality. “The whirling image

Smile before death turns out to be far more exceptional than originally thought, the gradual, almost dull opening that ultimately serves a specific purpose and with each twist gets better and better. Neri is as amazing as ever, her presence a blessing for any image, even though Robbins almost steals the show as the intrigued daughter. “The narrative mind

“What makes this a pleasure is the amazing soundtrack, flashy shagadelic decor and fashion, constant nudity from Jenny Tamburi and a high tempo. Thank God there are not the typical Giallo police detectives who boringly put the pieces together. No sir, no this movie.” Video Zeta One [includes a slew of salacious images from the movie]

Selection dialog:
Marco [Silvano Tranquilli]: “Be careful. With all your traps you will fry yourself like a chicken.”




Cast and characters:
Luciana Della Robbia … Nancy Thompson
Silvano Tranquilli … Marco
Rosalba Neri … Gianna
Hiram Keller… Dorothy’s lover
Dana Ghia… Magda
Zora Gheorgieva … Dorothy
Luigi Antonio Guerra … Giovanni
Fabio Garriba

Technical details:
1 hour 24 minutes
Kodak Eastmancolor Technochrome

Original title:
The Smile of the Hyena “Hyena’s smile”

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