A Knife for the Ladies (1974)

A giallo-style murder mystery with a wild West setting, Knife For The Ladies stars Jeff Cooper as private detective Burns, who is hired to investigate the murder of several prostitutes in the once prosperous mining town of Mescal. Wild-eyed Jack Elam plays the town’s gruff sheriff Jarrod, who initially isn’t best pleased with Burn’s appointment, but who eventually teams up with the private eye to find out who has been slicing up the working girls.

Knife For The Ladies has received some fairly scathing reviews here on IMDb, but I fail to understand why: fans of gialli should find plenty to enjoy about this murder mystery, the unseen killer wearing regulatory black gloves to kill the victims, with several deaths, and a suitably macabre revelation (I love the lurid ending!). The western setting is refreshingly different from the usual giallo Euro locale, and allows for a fun sub-plot with Burns and Jarrod having to contend with a lynch mob who wrongfully hanged a man for the murders.

Admittedly, the film isn’t as stylish as many a giallo, director Larry G. Spangler failing to wow with the visuals, but on the whole I think this is a pretty entertaining movie with a decent plot and well-drawn characters – far better than the other reviews would have you believe.