Luciano Morelli (Leonard Mann) is a photographer working with his ditsy Swedish girlfriend model Ingrid Stelmosson (Vera Krouska). They are traveling on the Istanbul to Athens express train. In the same compartment with them are a priest, Omar Effendi (Antonio Maimone), a bitchy disgruntled wife, Ida Tuclidis (Barbara Seidel), a squirrely man named Ben Amuchin and very nervous French woman named Annie (Anthi Andreopoulou).
When Annie gets up to leave the compartment her pearl necklace breaks. Everyone begins picking up stray pearls. As the train goes through a tunnel the lights go out. When the train immerges into daylight again the French woman with the pearls is dead. Stabbed in the chest. The weapon is Luciano’s letter opener.
The police inspector (Robert Webber) questions everyone that was in the compartment at the time of the murder. Luciano is the main suspect since it was his letter opener that killed the girl. With nothing more to go on everyone is released.
The paper has pictures of the five suspects. Raul (Nikos Verlekis) remembers seeing one of them in the corridor of the train before the lights went out. The suspect had just come from the restroom and had dropped a pair of gloves on the floor. Raul picked them up and put them in his pocket. Raul’s girlfriend Ulla (Susy Jennings) also saw the suspect and remarked that the bathroom smelled like burnt rubber. Someone had short circuited the lights so they wouldn’t go on in the tunnel. Thus giving the killer cover for the stabbing. Realizing they had seen the murderer Raul and Ulla are ripe for a little blackmail.
Raul leaves a blackmail note with one of the gloves in the killer’s mailbox. He wants ten thousand dollars for the return of the other glove. What he gets when he goes to pick up the ransom is a straight razor to the neck. Ulla still has the other glove. She picks up where Raul left off.
With the police looking for any excuse to arrest him Luciano goes underground. Seeing Ulla’s picture in the paper for a publicity photo op Luciano remembers her and Raul as being on the train. He confronts Ulla at the nightclub she works at but is interrupted by the club owner. Ulla calls her lesbian lover to go get the glove from her house and hide it somewhere else. Unfortunately the killer is also aware of Ulla and kills both her and her lover but the glove was already stolen by the club owner. Luciano is running out of time and the killer is still killing. Luciano devises an elaborate plan to catch the murderer.
“Death Steps in the Dark” AKA “Passi di morte perduti nel buio” was released in 1977 and was directed by Maurizio Pradeaux. It is an Italian-Greek horror thriller comedy and a giallo.
There is a fair amount of gore and nudity. Be warned, if you’ve never seen tongue on tongue action in ultra close up before it can be startling. There are also close ups of the throat slashings as well. As typical with gialli, all the suspects have something to hide but what that something is unfolds throughout the movie. Some of the red herrings are obvious and some are not. As for the movie itself I was entertained. I had my suspicions as to who the murderer was but I kept it to myself until the end. (By the way, I was right.)
Vera Kruska as Ingrid is the main comic relief. She is alternately cute, funny and annoying depending on the situation. Another comic relief person is Luciano’s friend Salvatore, played by Anestis Vlahos. Luciano in drag is also part of the comedy. A lot of people had issues with not only the comedy but the amount of comedy in the film. I was OK with it. It broke up the intensity of the murders and sex scenes. Some of the comedy was lame but not all of it and yes gialli can have comedy in it. Robert Webber, who plays the police inspector, is an American. His voice was dubbed for the American release.