A Killer 13!
Lisa Mandel (Patty Shepard) is a rich widow and she’s invited a group of guests to come spend the weekend at her estate in the countryside. The group, totaling 13 in all, assembles there, far away from the city or any prying eyes, and are a combination of older people, younger folk, married and single. None of them really know one another and they are all a bit confused as to why Lisa would be inviting them out for this little retreat. Most of them hardly know her or haven’t spoken to her in years. At their big dinner on the first night, Lisa reveals why they are gathered: she suspects that one of them is responsible for the murder of her rich husband, and she is going to reveal the killer! Thought to be an accident, the death of her husband was actually a planned event, and Lisa will get to the bottom of it. What follows is soap opera intrigue, as we are introduced to the large cast of characters and what could be their various motivations. While all of this is happening, a black-gloved killer is on the loose, and with the tires on all the cars slashed, no one can escape. Who is the murderer and who will survive?
Even though the genre had only been around for close to ten years at this point, this Spanish production plays out like an old-fashioned Giallo. There’s lots of convoluted, twisted mystery, so much so it’s easy to get lost in the details and the dozens of red herrings. Not a lot happens, as what plays out is more Agatha Christie than, say, Dario Argento. It takes almost a full hour before the first murder happens. And while the killings are brutal and a bit bloody, you’re in the wrong place if you’re looking for a lot of action. This is a slow, smoldering study of the decadent rich, all wrapped up in gorgeous early-70’s fashion. The women are striking, the men are piggish, and the mystery is elaborate. Fans of drawing room murder mysteries will like this, as the cast really carry the day, but those who like the more prurient aspects of the Giallo will no doubt be bored senseless.
The Killer is One of 13 is a good film, quiet and restrained. All the actors are great, and it’s always fun to see Jack Taylor do his thing. But don’t expect wild camera shots, any nudity, or stylized violence. There’s dribs and drabs here and there, but for the most part, this is a restrained Giallo, more a product of the 60’s than the swinging 70’s.