Patrick Davenant (Chris Avram) is a rich man who comes from a long line of English aristocracy and today is his birthday. As part of the celebration Patrick and his friends explore an old theater that belongs to Patrick’s family but hasn’t been entered for a hundred years. They are greeted at the theater door by the caretaker (Luigi Antonio Guerra) who has been maintaining the theater.
Patrick’s entourage includes his current fiancé Kim (Janet Agren) and her ex-lover Russell (Howard Ross), his ex-wife Vivian (Rosana Schiaffino) and her new husband Albert (Andrea Scotti), his daughter Lynn Davenant (Paola Senatore) and her boyfriend Duncan (Gaetano Russo), his sister Rebecca Davenant (Eva Czemerys) and her lover Doris (Lucretia Love). One other person in the group is a mysterious man who is wearing a Nehru jacket (Eduardo Filipone). For some reason these people are his friends. Of course everyone hates Patrick and most of them are cheating on each other. Quickly everyone begins to criticize everyone else and insults are flowing fast.
When a rope is cut sending a wooden beam crashing down and just missing Patrick he believes someone is trying to kill him. Then Kim is actually stabbed on stage while performing a soliloquy from “Romeo and Juliet”. The ensemble find that the phone doesn’t work and all the doors are lock. Someone among them is a murderer and the accusations begin to fly. Soon there are more murders.
Patrick eventually reveals that there is a secret and a curse from his family’s past. A curse that comes to fruition one day every one hundred years and today is the day. Patrick is beginning to believe that, because of the family curse, he is the killer but doesn’t remember. Others are convinced that the mysterious man who entered the theater with them is the culprit. Even more clues point to a supernatural cause for all the murders. No one knows if any of them will ever find a way out or if they will all be dead by morning.
“The Killer Reserved Nine Seats” AKA “L'assassino ha riservato nove poltrone” was released in 1974 and was directed by Giuseppe Bennati. It is an Italian giallo encompassing mystery, thriller and horror aspects with some paranormal tossed in. It is director Bennati’s only giallo film.
It’s not the best giallo out there but it’s not horrible either. It’s a little slow at times but there is sex and naked women if you’re interested and varied killing methods. There are also some interesting visuals but it’s a little on the talky side. One other note, the dubbing in the version I saw was a little inconsistent. There were a few points in the film where it revered back to Italian. This interrupted the flow of the plot a little.
By the time you are familiar with the characters of the film you hate them all and are more than happy to see each one done away with. They are all greedy hangers on full of arrogance and conceit. The only one that is really rich is Patrick but everyone else acts like they are well-to-do. Most of the time they are either sniping at each other, or are sneaking around having sex with each other.
The double plot gives the film an ambiguous feel. There is a masked killer and a supernatural agent involved so the two elements together make it a little difficult to know what’s going on. In my opinion it didn’t add mystery to the movie only confusion. The film has been compared to Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians” 1965 and in some respects that sounds reasonable but we’re talking giallo here so emphasis is not on the plot or the mystery but on the ambiance. The characterization of the victims/suspects in “Ten Little Indians” is also different. In Agatha Christie’s story each person is an individual with their own personality. In “Killer” they are all basically the same, entitled, brash and rude.