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Phantom Of Death A.k.a.: Off Balance, Un De litto Poco Comune
Directed by Ruggero Deodato Made in Italy in 1987
Vidmark video

Starring: Michael York, Donald Pleasence

Review: One of Ruggero Deodato's lesser known suspense/thriller entries has its moments and that's about it. Deodato who is responsible for some great Italian fare as Cannibal Holocaust, Jungle Holocaust, Cut And Run and House On The Edge Of The Park enters into mediocre territory with this one. It seems like he was trying to cross over into the giallo genre and the outcome wasn't all that spectacular. Even with veteran actors Donald Pleasence (R.I.P.) and Michael York who give decent performances the film does not function as highly entertaining fare.

The acting is there but the plot which is much too thin left me really bored while watching. It has York as famous pianist Reort Dominici, Dominici finds out he has a very rare aging disease and he goes crazy. I was expecting him to go on a gory killing spree but he gets all of two people, both are female. One is slashed in the throat with a sword causing a gushing wound and another is stabbed repeatedly until she smashes through a window, a very Dario Argento-esque type murder.

Donald Pleasence is Inspector Downy (Datti in the Italian version) who makes the case personal when Dominici starts calling Pleasence making taunts to catch him. Dominici finds out that his lover is pregnant and due to his desperate insanity plots to kill her and his unborn child thinking that it will have the same aging disease when it is born.

York's character undergoes a metamorphosis in appearance as he ages rapidly finally turning into an old looking monster. The less than explosive conclusion tries to make the viewer feel sorry for York's character or level with his desperate and pathetic situation but the guy is a cold, snobby and selfish pianist, someone I or any other normal person cannot feel sorry for.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

Richard Taylor