My own discovery of this film came during 1997 when my Dad took me to a car boot sale in Tuebrook, Liverpool. Most of my youth was spent tracking down old C64 cassette tapes but during this trip I would discover a film that, unknown to me at the time, would become one of my all time favourite giallo’s. Hidden within a milk crate amongst a number of other assorted VHS tapes I found two titles I just had to take home with me. The first was Dennis Donnelly’s THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978), a film I was aware of due to the ‘Video Nasty’ scare of the mid-eighties. The second was Benito Robinsoni’s NEON KILLER (1986).
Neon Killer is a film that I must admit was pretty much an impulse buy based upon the cover art. The original big box UK release by World Of Video 2000 featured a smattering of neon colours punctuated with blood red atop of a partially nude female chained to a wall. At only 11 years of age it took some severe persuading (and unfortunately some kicking and screaming) to get my Dad to agree to the purchase of these two titles.
I still have strong memories of my initial first viewing upon arriving home… I had been misled! The film was terrible and featured none of the glorious crimson red the cover art had hinted at. Nothing really caught my attention and the slow pace of the film did nothing to build up the suspense. I was severely disappointed…
It wasn’t until 8 years later that at the age of 19 I became reacquainted with the work of Benito Robinsoni after discovering SLASH HIVE. Produced in the early eighties and released originally in the UK under the title SIX DEATHS IN A WASPS EYE, Slash Hive forces the unsuspecting viewer to watch as a maniac with a giant wasp’s head terrorizes women across the city in grotesque fashion. “The first thing you hear are the wasps. The next thing you see is the blade. The last thing you feel is the sting!” Not only was Slash Hive everything I had expected from Neon Killer all those years ago and more, it also happened to be it’s predecessor.
Curious as to why the sequel had failed in almost every aspect I decided to give Neon Killer another viewing. Storage however had not been kind to the old World Of Video 2000 release and the tape was deemed ultimately unwatchable. Undeterred I attempted to find another copy from a respectable online retailer and when I refused to pay the high asking price for a third generation VHS tape I downloaded a copy off of the internet. I thought there was no harm in obtaining a bootleg seeing as how I already owned a copy of the tape in my collection, albeit an unwatchable one!
That night my second viewing of Neon Killer proved to be a hyper-stylised excess of brightly coloured neon lighting and violence. Under it’s original title POLIZIA DI MORTE Detective’s John Balmoral (Roger Robinson) and Barry McClagen (Louise Raynes) are investigating an ongoing series of horrific murders perpetrated by a sadistic and brutal serial killer. The majority of the film presents itself as a series of flashbacks in which old partners John and Barry try to understand the motives of the killer and remember the poor victims (73 in total) they were unable to save. One flashback in particular features the young Jennifer Marshall (Axelle Carolyn) awakening to find herself strapped to a makeshift electric chair. The scene itself is punctuated with neon lights that add a level of sleaze to the torturous preceding. Ultimately (and without spoiling the incredible ending) John concludes that he is getting too old and announces his intention to retire from active duty despite the successful capture of the killer. Barry however can’t walk away from all this death too easily…
Neon Killer is Benito Robinsoni’s greatest achievement! A masterclass of sleaze, hyper-violence and neon. As a squeal to SLASH HIVE this highly recommended and severely underrated giallo incorporates every aspect that made it’s predecessor so entertaining to watch and turns it up to 11!
I later discovered that the original UK release by World Of Video 2000 had used a heavily censored print of NEON KILLER and no subsequent attempts have been made to release this film unscathed in the United Kingdom.
I now have the uncut Danish VHS tape I bought a couple of years back from William Lustig.
News From Benito Robinsoni Himself!
I have my new film coming out soon: COSMIC PHOENIX. Trailer here in case U haven’t seen it: http://vimeo.com/38555820. This time i’m exploring the world of Arabic B-Movies.
Next year I’ll be doing something Ghostly, gothic and ghoulish, latin, with a twist…