Director – Aldo Lado
Cast – Jean Sorel, Ingrid Thulin, Mario Adorf, Barbara Bach, Fabijan Sovagovic, José Quaglio, Relja Basic, Piero Vida
Release Year – 1971
Reviewed by John of the Dead
After watching Who Saw Her Die? I decided to catch up on giallo director Aldo Lado’s other works, which lead me to Short Night of Glass Dolls. Once again providing us with the usual giallo format, we are given a strong mystery thriller that provides for some unique ideas I had never seen used in the giallo sub-genre. However, despite these cool writing ideas the lack of kills and excitement left this one a borderline enjoyable flick at best that left me disappointed with the end result.
When Gregory Moore, an American journalist in Prague, awakens to learn of the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend Jessica he embarks on a mission to find her at all costs – only to awaken in a morgue unable to speak or move. With time running out before an autopsy is performed on him, guaranteeing his death, Gregory was piece together the mystery in his head and rely on a local friend, Mira, to save him from his doomed state.
Remember that shitty movie from 2007 that starred that one guy who replaced Sebastian Shaw as Annakin Skywalker during the closing sequence of George Lucas’ “remastering” of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi? The movie was called Awake, and it sucked. Anywho, much like in Awake this storyline focuses on Gregory Moore after he is found “dead” and transported to the local morgue. When the doctors realize that there is something odd going on given he has yet to succumb to rigor mortis and has a much higher body temperature than that of a dead person, they begin running tests to determine if he may in fact be alive, providing him with borrowed time to get to the bottom of what happened to him and Jessica. The rest of the film is told in both the past and present, with the past consisting of Gregory investigating Jessica’s disappearance and the present consisting of his current dire situation, a situation that results from his earlier investigation. I enjoyed being thrown back and forth between the two connected storylines, with the earlier investigation obviously being the more interesting of the two as we follow Gregory deal with scared witnesses and hostile policemen who seem to be covering up for a strange sex club Gregory suspects has something to do with Jessica’s disappearance. While the mystery element was there I feel that the storyline was too slow for a film of its runtime (92 minutes) and left me bored on numerous occasions. There is only one real kill sequence in the film, which for a giallo effort means that the storyline must be dead on and brilliantly written in order to come off enjoyable, and that was not the case here despite one of the more horrific climaxes I have seen in the giallo sub-genre.
Director Aldo Lado did a decent job with this one, giving us good atmosphere and the usually enjoyable sets we find in giallo films. The acting performances were worthwhile and the overdubbing in my version did nothing to detriment from the film. His execution of the horror was decent I guess, only because there was very little horror for me to marvel at. The few scenes of horrific elements that we do get are great, especially the closing sequence that I feel will leave an impact on the viewer, but only until they see another film with more horror.
Overall, Short Night of Glass Dolls is another giallo films that despite a cool storyline ultimately suffers due to the story not providing enough “goods” to make for a positive watch. The direction is good and so is the horror when it is present, but indicating this film has “horror” is an overstatement in this effort that I can only recommend if you need a giallo fix at all costs.