1973, 92 mins. 12 secs.
Directed by Eloy de la Iglesia
Carmen Sevilla, Vicente Parra, María Asquerino, Antonio Casas, Tony Ibsert
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD), Divisa (DVD) (Spain R0 PAL) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
Hot off of his deliberately controversial horror film,The Cannibal Man, Spanish director Eloy de la Iglesia and star Vicente Parra joined forces again for another suspense film, No One Heard the Scream (Nadie oyó gritar), this time dispensing with most of the overt gory shock value and instead drawing on both the popular Italian giallo wave of the early '70s (which impacted Spain with many imitators during the decade) and that old Alfred Hitchcock standby, the transference of guilt thriller. The result is a highly entertaining and twisty little chamber piece that unfortunately got little traction at the time outside of Spain, but Severin has given it a warm welcome at least in 2021 with Blu-ray and DVD editions that mark not only its North American debut but its first English-friendly official release anywhere.
One weekend each month, Elisa (Sevilla, star of Igelsia's excellent prior thriller, The Glass Ceiling), jets from Madrid to London to stay with her sugar daddy in his swanky penthouse. However, she decides to cancel her latest flight ticket and stick around at home where the apartment next door is being renovated for new tenants and her neighbor, Miguel (Parra), keeps fiddling with the elevator to the annoyance of his wife, Nuria (Asquerino). Coming out of the shower, she hears the couple next door arguing violently and, upon opening her door, sees Miguel dropping his wife's body down the elevator shaft. After much badgering and an attempted home invasion at gunpoint, he manages to get Elisa to help him get rid of the body thanks to cleaning supplies, a shower curtain, and a car. What starts off as a simple trip to the countryside to get rid of a corpse turns into a twisted tangle of passion and double crosses leading to a crafty twist ending.
Still relatively undervalued by international audiences, Iglesia managed to pull off a fun surprise with this film in what amounts to the conclusion of a sort of darkly comic thriller trilogy about the perils of modern apartment living (and being observed by your neighbors). Both leads offer strong performances and carry the bulk of the film, which features gorgeous, colorful cinematography by Francisco Fraile (The Killer Is One of Thirteen) and a nice, loungy score by Fernando García Morcillo (The Night of the Sorcerers). As far as giallo-influenced cinema goes, this one's closer to the classy, relatively restrained ones made by the likes of Umberto Lenzi than the flashy, blood-soaked hits by Dario Argento and his imitators that were more common at the time. There is a bit of gore here in brief doses, but the film isn't overly violent and, probably due to the restrictions in Spanish cinema at the time, the sexual content is limited to some steamy, not terribly revealing clinches. The director's fascination with the odd zigs and zags of human sexuality is still here, of course, and it's something that would become even more obvious in later films until the post-Franco era really opened the floodgates for the rest of his career including the quinqui cycle.
Featuring a fresh scan from the original negative, the Severin release simply looks stunning; anyone who saw the earlier Spanish DVD (which wasn't subtitled, though fan subs were floating around) will be amazed at the upgrade here. The colors in particular are vibrant and look wonderful here, while detail is impressive with fine film grain left intact. The DTS-HD MA Spanish 2.0 mono track (with optional yellow English subtitles) is also pristine; for some reason Sevilla's looped voice is only sometimes in sync, indicating she wasn't always speaking Spanish or had quite a bit of her dialogue reworked in post-production. The sole extra here is "Truth 24 Times a Second: Eloy de la Iglesia and the Spanish Giallo" (23m45s), with film studies professor Andy Willis sketching in the impact of Hollywood on the Spanish film community in the prior decade, the explosion of genre films despite Franco's restrictions, the heavy influence of the Italian influx of spaghetti westerns, and the Spanish quasi-giallo offerings of the time like this film, 7 Murders for Scotland Yard, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, and more. Of course, the bulk of the running time focuses on Iglesia's a unique spin through his overt male objectification, use of locations, and subversion of genre conventions, which ties it to other boundary-pushing films like The Blood Spattered Bride.
Reviewed on September 6, 2021