The Suspicious Death of a Minor is an absolute stinker of a film, and makes most other Giallos seem like they have a cohesive narrative by comparison. It’s directed by Sergio Martino, who directed loads of other Italian exploitation films, including the infamous rip-off of Escape From New York entitled 2019, After the Fall of New York. Martino did a bit of everything, though, from Spaghetti westerns to comedies to war films, and that’s partly where the problems with the film lie.
The film is an incomprehensible melange of the Giallo, broad comedy, and the burgeoning genre later known as the Poliziotteschi. It has prostitutes, drugs, corruption, car chases and a silent assassin, but nothing adds up, and it all becomes increasingly convoluted. It’s narratively baffling, and let’s be honest: the Giallo was a genre for which strong narrative was never the key point.
I’m sure that hardcore fanatics of the Giallo will lap up the obscure narrative, but give me an Argento or Bava Giallo any day of the week, or the truly surreal Spasmo, over this. The film’s one redeeming factor is probably the extremely derivative but awesome Goblin rip-off score, a feature that was very common with the Giallos of the time but also with any Italian exploitation films from the ’70s. Claudio Cassinelli is perfectly fine as the lead character of an undercover cop, but the rest of the characters are so bland that despite his perfectly decent performance you just don’t care.
The disc includes the film in both Italian and English in their original mono dubs. The special features include a commentary from Troy Howarth, who wrote a book on the Giallo. The disc is rounded off with interviews with Martino with the film’s cinematographer, Giancarlo Ferrando. The release also includes a booklet with new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw.