A film from the early 1970s set amidst the mist-shrouded canals of Venice, which features a dead child, two grieving, semi-estranged parents and a pervading atmosphere of unease – does this sound familiar? Surely I’m talking about Nicolas Roeg’s superb supernatural thriller Don’t Look Now, released in 1973?  Actually, these are also the distinctive elements of Aldo Lado’s little-known Italian chiller from the year before, Chi l’ha vista morire, known in English as Who Saw Her Die?

I don’t know whether or not Roeg had seen the earlier film, but the parallels between the two movies are uncanny. Not that Lado’s film is in the same league as Don’t Look Now – the risible English dubbing lets it down for a start – but it remains an intriguing example of the Giallo genre of mystery and suspense films that flourished in Italy in the 60s and 70s.

The movie stars former male model and one-time Bond George Lazenby, whose acting career failed to take off after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He’s not at all bad, though, in the role of a sculptor living a bachelor existence in Venice while his wife (played by Swedish beauty Anita Strindberg) and daughter (Nicoletta Elmi) remain in Paris. Unfortunately, his daughter pays him a visit just as a killer who targets red-haired young girls is on the prowl…

Who Saw Her Die? is undeniably dated, even cheesy in parts thanks to its supporting cast of kinky, Euro-trash suspects (including former Bond villain Adolfo Celi), and it’s hard to know what to make of its more surreal moments, such as the bizarre scene in which a witness threatens to take a pot shot at Lazenby with an air pistol and then challenges him to a game of ping-pong.

Yet what makes it well worth watching is the combination of Lado’s gliding camera and Ennio Morricone’s magnificently eerie score, which uses a children’s choir to unsettling effect whenever a victim is being stalked. Lado’s camera adopts the black-veil-wearing killer’s point of view and the children’s voices come in, rising in crescendo while an insistent foghorn-like drone sounds underneath. Brilliant!

Certificate 18. Runtime 90 mins. Director Aldo Lado

Who Saw Her Die? is available on DVD from Shameless.

Fans of Italian cinema’s Giallo genre will be thrilled by the Barbican’s forthcoming film season: 
‘She’s So Giallo – Women of 1970s Italian thrillers’.

Curated by Cigarette Burns Cinema, the season will season will feature four classic and under-screened examples of vintage gialli, presented on rare 16mm and 35mm prints.

Screening in June, the films are Dario Argento’s 1972 cult masterpiece Four Flies on Grey Velvet (7 June); Lucio Fulci’s rarely seen 1969 movie One On Top of Another (14 June); Piero Schivazappa’s 1969 pop-art thriller The Frightened Woman (22 June); and Sergio Martino’s gory 1972 mystery All the Colors of the Dark (28 June).