In 1870 Dr. Robert Vance (William Berger) owns a rest home for psychiatric patients in a remote part of England. He lives at the clinic with his wife Lizabeth (Mary Young). Mary (Barbara Wilson) is a new nurse at the clinic. She is caring and treats the patients with respect. On her first day she reads to a mute patient named Janey (Anna Maria Polani).
That night a sinister figure creeps into Janey’s room and tries to slash her with a straight razor. Janey runs out into the night but the figure runs after her and eventually catches her. Janey is slashed to death. The next day Dr. Vance tells Mary that her family came for her and Janey left early in the morning. The head nurse, Sheena (Harriet Medin), takes Mary around to meet the patients. One of them is Fred (Massimo Righi). Most of the time Fred is normal but occasionally he has fits of temper and could be dangerous.
Suddenly footsteps can be heard above. It sends Fred into a fit and he must be calmed down. Vance goes upstairs to where the footsteps came from on the third floor. In a room is a woman who hides. She is disfigured and blames the doctor. Vance says he can cure her but she doesn’t believe him.
Meanwhile in the forest, a carriage carrying Marc de Brantome (Philippe Hersent) and Gisele de Brantome (Francoise Prevost) hurdles along a winding road. When the carriage breaks down Marc gets down to fix it. Gisele takes the opportunity to bludgeon her husband to death. It scares the horses and they run away. Walking through the woods Gisele comes upon Vance burying Janey’s body. She says nothing.
Later Vance finds Gisele pretending to be hurt. She tells him her driver was killed and the carriage ran away. Vance takes her to the clinic to recover. Gisele takes the opportunity to snoop around. She is attacked by Fred. Later she snoops some more and finds the woman in the attic. Vernon is ready to kick her out. Gisele then blackmails Vernon about him burying Janey in the woods. Gisele is the next to go.
Mary is ready to call the police but Vance is not. Vance has his reasons. He tells her about the woman in the attic. But there is still a slasher running around and there is no shortage of suspects.
“The Murder Clinic” AKA “La lama nel corpo” or “The Knife in the Body” was released in 1966 and was directed by Elio Scardamaglia. It is an obscure Italian French gothic horror giallo.
Although the movie is part of the giallo genre it’s not steeped in the genre. There are murders but not as much blood as you would normally see. There also isn’t as much sex as the usual giallo. Part of the reason could be because it came along early in the genre. On the plus side it does have the hooded mysterious killer that is not revealed until the end. I wouldn’t say there was a clear protagonist in the film. I suppose Mary is the closest one available. Usually the protagonist in the giallo genre is a male but Vance is far from helpful in that department. He has his own secrets that he would just as soon keep hidden.
It may not follow all the giallo tropes but it is still a murder mystery. As a murder mystery it was average. Not because of what it’s missing as far as the genre is concerned, it’s because the story was a little weak. The movie seemed to try to point to everyone as being the killer instead of delivering a good murder mystery. It’s not a bad movie, I still enjoyed it, but it’s just not as exciting as I expected. Then again giallo's are not known for their first-rate plots.