A chemist has received another threatening letter and he is justifiably concerned - what could he have possibly done to deserve this kind of treatment? It must be something bad because he burns the letter to dispose of it and refuses to let on to his staff that there is anything wrong, allowing them to leave so he can lock up. However, it seems he has a late customer and he walks out to the front of the shop to meet them, but they have gone - except they haven't, they have crept up behind him and knocked the chemist out, then kill him by slitting his throat...
It's giallo time again, but this one is a little different. The first effort from occasional director Antonio Bido, this diversion from the usual pretty girls being bloodily bumped off can be explained by the fact that he wanted to make a work closer to an art film about war guilt, so the victims in this are either middle-aged or elderly. Bowing to pressure from the producers he had to make a bid to be more of a Dario Argento-styled filmmaker, so there is plenty of shots of the black-clad killer skulking about, from his point of view or otherwise.
Our hero is a detective called Lukas (Corrado Pani), who is drawn into investigating the killings (of which there are hardly an abundance) by his relationship with a woman who lives in the apartment block of a couple worried that someone is threatening them, too. The woman is a dancer, Mara (Paola Tedesco), and at first we think she is going to be the next victim, but this is actually misdirection (what exactly was the killer doing in her apartment anyway?); at least she provides the impetus for Lukas to make like a bloodhound and solve the mystery.
Bido says he was influenced more by Alfred Hitchcock than Argento, which is fair enough as Argento pretty much had the same disposition, so for example we get what is essentially a variation on the famous shower scene from Psycho for one of the murder scenes, only instead of an attractive lady falling foul of the villain, it's an old bloke, which might not carry the same charge for some viewers but is fairly unsettling in the way that the Italian director intended. Just as good are the sequences where Lukas visits a largely empty Padua to do more snooping, and encounters curious and never explained people and occurences.
But it's the war guilt that fuelled Bido's original screenplay that gives Watch Me When In Kill, aka Il Gatto dagli occhi di giada in its native tongue, its edge, and as a mystery it is not easy to guess who the killer will turn out to be, even armed with the information that someone is out for revenge rather than out to satisfy twisted desires. For this reason there's a muted feel to the film that offers it an interesting mood which some may find slow and confusing, and others may decide is not half as exploitative as they were hoping for. In some ways this is the giallo for fans of Murder She Wrote, a neat(-ish) little puzzle with a twist in its tale that ends up being oddly gloomy when you might have expected a triumphant reveal. Music by a group calling themselves Trans Europa Express.