It’s incredible how much more creative the Italian giallo films I’ve seen are compared to the American slasher film, and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is another fine example of just that.
This is Dario Argento’s debut film, and some of the exact same techniques he uses in his later masterpiece, Deep Red, can be seen here. He also begins his fascination with gloved hands.
Crystal Plumage tells the story of Sam, an American writer living in Rome, who witnesses the attack of a woman in an art gallery. The woman manages to survive, and is believed to be the only living victim of a local serial killer. Sam becomes addicted to finding out who this attacker/serial killer is, and his life is consumed by the investigation. The truth, for Sam, turns out to be much more complicated than he could’ve ever imagined.
Though this is nowhere near as solid a film as Deep Red, it is still a great giallo. What I love most about Argento is that the viewer takes the exact same ride as the main character who is trying to discover the identity of the killer. Just like I had to do with Deep Red, as soon as Crystal Plumage ended, I had to go back to the start to see if things really were as the ending states.
There is a lack of gratuitious violence, and very little of the sex the sub-genre is known for, but it’s still a solid mystery being told. Argento definitely “had it” back then, and his debut effort is better than 90% of the debut outings one will see. Crystal Plumage is another solid horror film.