(A.k.a. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO KILL A NICE GIRL LIKE YOU?)
The onscreen title is A TASTE OF EXCITEMENT.
Jane (Eva Renzi) drives alone in her mini along a lonely cliff-side highway in France. Suddenly a white Mercedes accelerates from behind her, and attempts to run her off the road. The police come to her rescue, and quiz her about the attempt upon her life: it transpires that it's one of several ... and she claims to have no idea who is behind them, or why.
Later, Dr Forla (George Pravda) pays a visit to Jane at her hotel and claims to have become interested in her story after overhearing her plight at the police station. He freaks her out with probing questions such as "have you ever thought of committing suicide?".
A taunting telephone call to Jane's hotel room that evening has her even more upset, with a curious repeated shriek down the line being the stuff of nightmares. The following morning, she visits the zoo and recognises the sound as that of a gibbon braying in its cage. Convinced that the beast has unlocked itself from its confines and is about to attack her, she flees - straight into the arms of Forla. He claims to be at the zoo by pure coincidence, to study the animals' behaviours.
This is enough to make Jane sprint in the opposite direction. She runs into the street and literally into Paul (David Buck) and his speeding car. He's an ever-so-English painter staying in France (calls everyone "chap", speaks to women as if they're idiots, is casually racist). After telling him of her fears, he's initially sceptical along with the police - but becomes convinced when he witnesses Jane's next close shave with the white Mercedes.
Paul, forsaking the solitude he'd been hoping to find in Nice, invites Jane to stay with him for safety at his luxury beachside retreat. Meanwhile learn that the driver of the Mercedes is an Italian named Alfredo (Peter Bowles). But why is he seemingly intent on killing Jane?
It all starts to become a little clearer when Paul is lured to former client Hans' (Paul Hubschmid) chateau under false pretences. The wealthy businessman is an acquaintance of Alfredo's and sheds some light on Jane's profession, and why it is that she is being so hotly pursued ...
TASTE OF EXCITEMENT is a 1970 curiosity from Don Sharp (PSYCHOMANIA; RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK), based on Ben Wheatley's novel. It carries an interesting premise and attractive locations, arousing interest from the off-set with minimal exposition and the focus instead being on non-stop intrigue. Imagine a tame giallo entry, filtered through a heavy nod towards Hammer's A TASTE OF FEAR.
The action is slickly staged but sporadic; the script never quite providing the thrills needed to make this one a must-see genre title. It's quaint fun, mildly amusing, but rarely nail-biting.
Renzi, best known to genre fans from her stint in THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, makes for an alluring lead actress. She's pretty, she's good at playing scared, and is just about resourceful enough to avoid becoming annoyingly vulnerable. Bowles is hilarious trying to cope with his dodgy Italian accent, while Buck fails to convince as the male hero - and looks more and more like a young Roddy MacDowall as the film progresses. Elsewhere, it's fun to pick out familiar faces from cheesy British TV dramas of yesteryear.
Keith Mansfield's score is all big brass sections, funky bass and spastic drum rolls - it wouldn't sound out of place in 70s cop shows such as 'Starsky And Hutch'.
TASTE OF EXCITEMENT comes uncut in an anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer. Opening with the old BBFC "X rated" title card, it's immediately apparent that this comes from a well-preserved print with very little in the way of debris. Colours are a tad faded and the image is never pin-sharp, but it's all amazingly clean and film-like. Nice.
English audio is provided in 2.0 mono and is good from start to finish.
Odeon's disc opens with an animated main menu which plays on the TV serial-esque score and car chase scenes to make this look like a more action-packed film than it actually is.
Beyond that, an animated scene-selection menu allows access to the main feature via 6 chapters.
DVD extras are limited to a gallery of 9 stills (lobby cards etc) that play out silently, and trailers for other titles in Odeon's 'Best Of British' range: BRASS MONKEY, CANDLELIGHT IN ALGERIA, FORBIDDEN, FOUR IN THE MORNING, HELL IS SOLD OUT, LIGHT UP THE SKY and THE SEVENTH VEIL.
The best extra is as 4-page booklet containing excellent liner notes from Alan Byron.
All in all, TASTE OF EXCITEMENT is an agreeable if not altogether remarkable relic and will doubtlessly be an essential addition to the DVD collections of serious Euro-crime fans.
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Odeon Entertainment Ltd|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|