21 July 2024

Alongside Susan Scott and Edwige Fenech, Swedish-born lovely Anita Strindberg rounds out the First Triumvirate of 1970s Giallo Queens. Equipped with an angular beauty and soft spoken charm, Strindberg's genre appearances nearly always distinguish her from Scott's brassy verve and Fenech's vixenish sexplay.

Strindberg's first horror outing was the psychedelic-flavored 1971 giallo A Lizard in a Woman's Skin directed by Lucio Fulci. Strindberg features tangentially as the mysterious seductress Julia, neighbor to a disturbed Florinda Balkan (star of 1972's excellent Don't Torture a Duckling). Only problem? Balkan may be a deranged murderess responsible for slashing Strindberg to ribbons. Yikes.

Her next giallo was 1971's Case of the Scorpion's Tail. Directed by Sergio Martino, Strindberg this time takes full lead as Cleo, a photographer who joins handsome detective George Hilton to investigate a mysterious murder related to insurance fraud. But will a shadowy black-gloved killer dispatch these two overly curious nuisances before they can uncover the truth?

The following year saw Strindberg star in two different gialli: Your Vice is a Locked Door and Only I Have the Key directed by Martino and Who Saw Her Die? directed by Aldo Lado.

A reworking of The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe, Your Vice has Strindberg as Irina, a tortured wife abused by her alcoholic husband Oliviero (expertly played by genre regular Luigi Pistilli). Precocious relative Floriana (Edwige Fenech) turns up to make things more troubled. But things really start to unravel when bodies begin turning up dead...who could the killer be?

Strindberg's other giallo from 1972 was Lado's Who Saw Her Die? - an exceptional example of the subgenre and a near perfect melding of style and suspense. A child killer is on the loose in Venice, stalking his diminutive prey and murdering them with little remorse. A bereaved father (George Lazenby) and his estranged wife Strindberg hope to uncover the truth behind their daughter's death...before the madman strikes again.

La Strindberg wasn't above dabbling in pure exploitation, either. In 1973, she took work in Women in Cell Block 7 directed by Rino Di Silvestro. And in 1974 she appeared in The Antichrist, a notorious Exorcist ripoff directed by Alberto De Martino.

Fear (1980) was Strindberg's final feature and certainly a decent enough watermark on which to depart. Directed by Riccardo Freda and co-starring Martine Brochard and Joe D'Amato skin maven Laura Gemser, Fear (aka The Wailing) may be standard enough stuff - but it's all enjoyably done.

In it, working actor Michael (played by Stefano Patrizi) returns to his mother (Strindberg) and their family home for a little rest and relaxation. But soon someone is stalking and gruesomely killing those around Michael. Who could the killer be...and what secret from the past could drive the bloody carnage?

The era and subgenre in which Strindberg flourished is admittedly long gone - but her striking good looks and statuesque presence continue to underscore the thrillers and horrors she so thankfully graced.

The Antichrist 1974
Case of the Scorpion's Tail 1971
A Lizard in a Woman's Skin 1971
Fear (aka The Wailing) 1980
The Salamander 1981
Two Faces of Terror 1972
Who Saw Her Die? 1972
Your Vice is a Locked Door and Only I Have the Key 1972
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