Reputedly the work of Media Publications mogul Trevor Barley (although Trevor strenuously denied any involvement in an e-mail to myself a while back!), Fantom Kiler is the first of a series of 'extreme erotic' gialli supposedly shot in Poland, featuring a string of drop-dead-gorgeous women losing their clothes in various improbable situations before, erm, dropping dead. The architect of their collective fate comes straight out of Bava, his chosen blank white mask offset by dark clothing being instantly recognisable to admirers of Blood And Black Lace, and director 'Nowicki' achieves a fair measure of style and tension during the frequent murder scenes, designed to appeal to the sleaze junkie rather than the gore hound - the Fantom is big on humiliation and punishment, and the film revels in this at the expense of the flowing blood you might usually anticipate in fare of this nature.
So, why does Trevor B want us to believe that Fantom Kiler and its sequels originate from Eastern Europe? What's with the weirdly-dubbed dialogue and purposely mis-spelt subtitles? Why are 3 costume designers credited on a production where barely anyone wears clothing? What connection does the film's Super Mario-lookalike mild mannered janitor share with the mysterious, possibly ethereal Kiler? And why does the odd subplot concerning the investigating detective's red-herring, halfwit brother fizzle out almost as soon as it emerges? Most odd.
The Fantom Kiler movies mark one of the strangest episodes in the convoluted history of the British horror film, though it certainly is encouraging to see one of our own having a stab at the giallo. If you're as much a fan of Benny Hill as you are Dario Argento, you'll find plenty to your liking here, but if violence of a particularly sexual nature turns you off, steer clear. Those who recall the notorious 'poker' sequence in Patrick Vive Ancora will be thrilled by the echoes found during Fantom Kiler's climax - a scene which also highlights what has to be a cinematic first, a point-of-view shot from within a female rectal passage...
[Note: this review originally said Trevor Barley was from Midnight Media. This is incorrect, Midnight Media is run by Paul Brown which is in no way connected to Trevor Barley - Ed]