A curse has cast its shadow over castle Dragonstone, for it is said that should one MacGrieff end the life of another MacGrieff, then the entire clan will fall victim to a merciless and bloody vengeance.
With titles such as Antonio Bido’s chilling Bloodstained Shadow (1978) and Aldo Lado’s tense Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971), just to name a couple, 88’s Italian range is building up quite an excellent collection of gialli. And this interesting little installment is no exception.
Seven Deaths is unlike any giallo I have seen so far, except maybe Sergio Martino’s feline-themed Your Vice Is A Locked Room and Only I Have The Key (1972). And while the presence of a cat makes it hard not to draw comparisons with earlier adaptions of the Edgar Allen Poe short story, it is the film’s strong leanings towards Hammer Horror that set it apart.
From the spine-shattering explosions of brass in the movie’s soundtrack to the gothic set design, to its atmosphere, honey-thick with suspense. Add a story about a family curse to the mix and it’s nearly impossible not to reference the Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee starring Sherlock Holmes classic, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). Even as you watch our troubled cast wander the castle of Dragonstone, the shadowy hallways even start to look like Baskerville hall.
And if that’s not enough for you, the final revelation will leave no shadow of a doubt which classic tale really influenced this movie.
The story’s mixture of legend and the bizarre had me drawing on some of the silliest conclusions. A smokescreen perhaps to better hide the culprit, or just a mess of strange ideas that somehow fell together rightly enough? Whatever the case may be, the fusion of Hammer and giallo is just too delicious to condemn.